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Mainframe runs 50B instructions/sec

Posted: 06 Sep 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:mainframe? computer? microprocessor?

IBM Corp. will begin shipping a new mainframe computer capable of 50 billion instructions per second, powered by 96 microprocessors with clock speeds up to 5.2GHz.

The company says the z196 processor is a four-core chip that contains 1.4 billion transistors on a 512mm2 surface. The chip was designed by IBM engineers in Poughkeepsie , N.Y. , and was manufactured using IBM's 45nm silicon-on-insulator process at the company's 300mm fab in East Fishkill , N.Y., IBM said.

The mainframe processor uses IBM's embedded DRAM technology, which enables the placement of dense DRAM caches or components on the same chips as high-speed microprocessors, thus improving performance according to the company.

A spokesperson said IBM is not disclosing other z196 benchmark data at this time.

The new mainframe is called the zEnterprise System. IBM says it is the company's most powerful commercial system ever, capable of executing roughly 17,000 times more instructions per second than the most advanced system available in 1970.

The z196 processor features new software to optimize performance of data-heavy workloads, including up to a 60 percent improvement in data intensive and Java workloads, according to IBM.

The zEnterprise System offers 60 percent more capacity than its predecessor, the System z10, using about the same amount of electricity. Energy efficiencies were achieved through advances in microprocessor design, 45nm silicon technology, more efficient power conversion and distribution and advanced sensors and cooling control firmware that monitors and makes adjustments based on environmental factors such as temperature and humidity levels and air density, according to IBM.

IBM says the speed of the zEnterprise System is needed to support businesses with large workloads, such as banks and retailers. Citing a study conducted by Berg Insight, IBM notes that the number of active users of mobile banking and related financial services worldwide is forecasted to increase from 55 million in 2009 to 894 million in 2015.

Pricing information for the zEnterprise System was not disclosed.

IBM has invested more than $1.5 billion in R&D on the zEnterprise line, including more than three years of collaboration with some of the company's top clients around the world.

IBM labs in Austin , Texas , Germany , Israel and India made major contributions to the development of the z196 processor, the company said.

- Dylan McGrath
EE Times

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