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IBM readies super-fast Power6 chip

Posted: 25 May 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Power6 chips? dual-core processors? 65nm SOI process?

IBM Corp. is set to unveil its new p570 system using the 4.7GHz Power6 dual-core processor. The chipmaker said the server offers the best performance currently available on SPECint2006, SPECfp2006, SPECjbb2005 and TPC-C benchmarks. The tests measure integer, floating point, Java and transaction performance, respectively.

Brad McCredie, a fellow in IBM's Systems and Technology Group, said the Power6 microprocessor has a power consumption "just a few percentage points" higher than the Power5 it replaces, a chip that ran at half the current data rate.

He explained why the company pushed speed over cores with Power6, saying that while the trend to multicore processors is clearly the future, "not all customer workloads are multithreaded yet." The CPU supports two threads on each of its two cores.

IBM kept a lid on power consumption on the part through a wide variety of techniques. Power-hungry parts of the chip were put on a separate power supply rail from the rest of the logic, and designers aggressively gated all the chips clocks, McCredie said. The Power6 is IBM's first CPU made in its 65nm silicon-on-insulator process. It sports 8MB L2 cache and a 75GBps link to external memory. In addition, IBM claims it is the first Unix-based processor to support hardware decimal floating-point arithmetic, useful in many financial applications.

- Rick Merritt
EE Times

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