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IBM Almaden Preps Spinoff

The IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM) Almaden Research Center is preparing what appears to be its first spinoff, a data center play possibly aimed at storing or delivering massive quantities of video over the Internet.

Seval Systems Inc., based in Palo Alto, Calif., is being led by Winfried Wilcke, the founding chief technology officer and acting CEO, who's a program director at Almaden.

A spinoff would be a milestone for the research center. But it's got a long way to go to catch up with the Xerox Corp. (NYSE: XRX) Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) , which has had at least 15 spinoffs -- including SynOptics Communications, which eventually became part of Nortel Networks Ltd. (NYSE/Toronto: NT), and ContentGuard, a joint venture with Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) that got acquired by Microsoft, Thomson (NYSE: TMS; Euronext Paris: 18453), and Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX).

Almaden is keeping Seval under wraps for now, but Wilcke tells Light Reading the spinoff is based on Almaden's Intelligent Bricks hardware, a project nicknamed IceCube.

Publicly demonstrated in 2003, when it was in the prototype stage, IceCube involves modular units of storage -- black boxes, literally -- that can be stacked into a big ol' cube. The idea is to build a large-scale server that's made up of cheap, modular pieces that are networked together.

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