SAN JOSE, Calif. IBM Corp. rolled out Monday (May 21) a blazing 4.7 GHz Power6 dual-core processor and a new server based on it. The new chip bucks the trend of focusing on multiple cores rather than raw speed, but IBM claims its new system nevertheless outperforms rivals on four top computer benchmarks.
IBM said its new p570 system using the Power6 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.
The Power6 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, said Brad McCredie, a fellow in IBM's Systems and Technology Group. He would not disclose the CPUs exact power consumption.
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.
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, he said. The Power6 is IBM's first CPU made in its 65nm silicon-on-insulator process.
The Power6 sports 8Mbytes L2 cache and a 75Gbyte/second link to external memory. In addition, IBM claims it is the first Unix-based processor to support in hardware decimal floating point arithmetic, useful in many financial applications.
The company disclosed details of its Power6 plan last October, saying it would deliver a 4-5 GHz CPU to be used in new systems by June.