IBM has announced an open beta version of virtualisation software that lets x86 Linux applications run on Power processor-based IBM System p servers.

The IBM System p Application Virtualisation Environment, called informally System p AVE, lets thousands of Linux applications run unmodified on System p AIX servers. The software follows IBM's introduction of three System p servers designed to consolidate Linux workloads.

Nearly 2,800 applications already run natively on Linux, on System p servers. System p AVE will allow even more applications to run unmodified, as well.

p AVE creates a virtual x86 environment and file structure, and executes x86 Linux applications by translating and mapping x86 instructions and calls to the Power architecture. Because it uses caching, an application's performance can increase over time. While there is a performance penalty of about 10 percent associated with the use of p AVE for some applications, the caching capability lessens it.

IBM said that allowing Linux applications to run on the System p is important as the company's recent research showed that each pSeries server sold in the first quarter of this year had an average of 30 logical Linux partitions per server.

The System p server has over a 30 percent revenue share in 2006 among Unix servers according to IDC.

Interested parties can download and test the software . The software is expected to be available in the second half of this year.