IBM just launched the dual-core 64-bit POWER6 processor
running at 4.7 GHz, which doubles the speed of the previous generation POWER5
while using nearly the same amount of electricity to run and cool it.
The POWER6 processor is a result of a five-year R&D
period, is composed of 790 million transistors and is built using IBM’s 65nm
process technology. IBM scientists targeted the way instructions are executed
inside the chip to improve performance. For example, in the POWER6, the number
of pipeline stages – the chunks of operations that must be completed in a
single cycle of clock time – are kept static, but each stage is made faster,
removing unnecessary work and doing more in parallel. As a result, execution
time is reduced.
Earlier this year, IBM hinted that its new POWER6 architecture may hit frequencies higher than 5 GHz.
The POWER6 chip has a total cache size of 8 MB per chip –
four times the POWER5 chip – to keep pace with the processor bandwidth. With 300
GB/s on tap, IBM boasts that its processor has so much bandwidth that the
POWER6 chip could download the entire iTunes catalog in about 60 seconds. IBM
believes that it has designed the POWER6 chip with a balanced amount of
bandwidth and processing power.
“Like the victory of IBM’s Deep Blue chess-playing
supercomputer 10 years ago this month, the debut of POWER6 processor-based
systems proves that relentless innovation brings ‘impossible’ goals within
reach,” said Bill Zeitler, senior vice president, IBM Systems and Technology
Group. “The POWER6 processor forges blazing performance and energy conservation
technologies into a single piece of silicon, driving unprecedented business
value for our customers.”
To facilitate the lower energy demands of the new chip, the
POWER6 designers separated circuits that can’t support low voltage operation
onto their own power supply “rails,” allowing IBM to dramatically reduce power
for the rest of the chip. IBM engineers also used a new method of chip design
that enables POWER6 to operate at low voltages, allowing the same chip to be
used in low power blade environments as well as large, high-performance
symmetric multiprocessing machines.
In another design to reduce energy consumption and heat
production, processor clocks can be dynamically turned off when there is no
useful work to be done and turned back on when there are instructions to be executed.
Also, the chip has configurable bandwidth, enabling customers to choose maximum
performance or minimal cost.
Parts of the memory not being utilized are dynamically turned
off and then turned back on when needed. In cases where an over-temperature
condition is detected, the POWER6 chip can reduce the rate of instruction
execution to remain within an acceptable, user-defined temperature envelope.
The chip is fast too, as a server built by IBM using the
POWER6 architecture is the first ever to hold all four major benchmark speed
records for business and technical performance. IBM says that its new 2- to
16-core server is multiple times faster than the HP Superdome or Itanium machines.
The POWER6 chip is also aimed as being a midrange
consolidation machine, containing special hardware and software that allows it
to create many virtual servers on a single box. IBM calculates that 30 SunFire
v890s can be consolidated into a single rack of the new IBM machine, saving
more than $100,000 per year on energy costs.
IBM plans to introduce the POWER6 chip throughout the System
p and System i server lines. The POWER6 chip in the new IBM System p 570 server
is the first UNIX microprocessor able to calculate decimal floating point
arithmetic in hardware. Until now, calculations involving decimal numbers with
floating decimal points were done using software. The built-in decimal floating
point capability gives tremendous advantage to enterprises running complex tax,
financial and ERP programs.
quote: The trend to multicore processors is clearly the future but "not all customer workloads are multithreaded yet," said McCredie, explaining why the company pushed speed over cores with Power6. The CPU supports two threads on each of its two cores.
quote: SAN JOSE, Calif. — IBM Corp. will go back to the future with its next-generation Power6 design by pushing raw speed rather than trying to pack more cores on a die.
quote: Actually from rythie's post, a 4.7 GHz POWER6 running a single thread seems to be ~= 3.5 GHz Core 2 in integer, and ~= 4.2 GHz Core 2 in floating point. That's pretty good IPC.
quote: Add in the second thread on that core and the per-core IPC might even be higher than Core 2 in floating point, although this is purely speculative and assuming that there is an overall improvement of 20% when running the second thread (no way do I think IBM's SMP implementation is going to suck like HyperThreading).
quote: "The transition to multicore is happening even faster than the move to 64-bit, and Windows Server 2008 is multicore-ready. Microsoft is also licensing by socket, not cores, on a chip," said Bill Laing, general manager for Microsoft's Windows Server division, told attendees here at WinHEC on May 16.
quote: While PowerPC is POWER-derived
quote: IBM boasts that its processor has so much bandwidth that the POWER6 chip could download the entire iTunes catalog in about 60 seconds.
quote: This is also the first time that IBM is rolling out a new software virtualization capability that allows customers to move live virtual machines from one physical Unix server to another while maintaining continuous availability. Called the Power6 Live Partition Mobility function, the technology allows a system administrator to move active virtualized partitions without temporarily suspending them. Previously, the same action would have required a reboot of the Unix system and software stack. IBM said the software is in beta with general availability planned for later this year.
quote: Power6 has a total of 20 different virtualization enhancements that Mauri said will be fully realized once the update version of AIX is released later this year
quote: IBM executives also announced that an updated version of the company's AIX operating system, called 6.1, will be available in the fourth quarter of this year. IBM said customers can start downloading the beta of its new Unix OS in July.
quote: POWER6 chip could download the entire iTunes catalog in about 60 seconds
quote: Analyst firm IDC (IDC) estimates that roughly 50 cents is spent on energy for every dollar of computer hardware. This is expected to increase by 54% to 71 cents over the next four years.
quote: an IDC survey of chief information officers and facilities managers found providing power and floor space are becoming increasingly important
quote: The Nielsen Norman Group, a Fremont, Calif., company that focuses on user experience and helping companies design human-centered products, defines user experience as encompassing "all aspects of the end user's interaction with the company, its services and its products. The first requirement for an exemplary user experience is to meet the exact needs of the customer, without fuss or bother. Next comes simplicity and elegance that produce products that are a joy to own, a joy to use. True user experience goes far beyond giving customers what they say they want, or providing checklist features."
quote: the new IBM System p 570 server is the first UNIX microprocessor able to calculate decimal floating point arithmetic in hardware
quote: The first public indication of IBM's Power6 muscle has arrived courtesy of Oracle.
quote: IBM makes damn good processors and its a damn shame us PC users cannot directly benefit from their great products.
quote: All Mac's used IBM's Power5 processors until the switch to Intel's Core.
quote: Power6 sounds impressive, but is not in any way trying to compete with "windows" systems.
quote: An IBM Workstation/Gaming rig would be super sweet to own.
quote: you will NEVER see this on the desktop
quote: It won't even compete much with Xeon nevermind C2D
quote: (you will NEVER see this on the desktop)
quote: Its not using the x86 instruction set, it uses IBMs POWER architecture and instruction set.
quote: so 43% and 19% speed ups respectively.