IBM this week launched the fastest microprocessor ever built together with a powerful new computer server that leverages the chip’s many breakthroughs in energy conservation and virtualisation technology. The new server is the first to hold all four benchmark speed records.
At 4.7 GHz, the dual-core Power6 processor doubles the speed of the previous generation Power5 while using nearly the same amount of electricity to run and cool it. This means customers can use the new processor to either increase their performance by 100% or almost halve their power consumption.
IBM’s new 2-core to 16-core server also offers three times the performance per core of supercomputer rivals, based on the key TPC-C benchmark. The processor speed of the Power6 chip is nearly three times faster than the latest Itanium processor. The processor bandwidth of the Power6 chip – 300 Gbps – could download the entire iTunes catalog in about 60 seconds.
The new server is the world’s most powerful midrange consolidation machine, containing special hardware and software that allows it to create many “virtual” servers on a single box.
The new IBM System p 570, running the Power6 processor, claims the top spot in the four most widely-used performance benchmarks for Unix servers: SPECint2006 (measuring integer-calculating throughput common in business applications), SPECfp2006 (measuring floating point-calculating throughput required for scientific applications), SPECjbb2005 (measuring Java performance in business operations per second) and TPC-C (measuring transaction processing capability).
The Power6 chip has a total cache size of 8Mb per chip – four times the Power5 chip – to keep pace with the awesome processor bandwidth. By contrast, many other servers concentrate mainly on processor performance, at the expense of the server’s ability to feed data to the chip at a rate that takes advantage of the processor’s speed.
The Power6 chip has also notched up a number of industry firsts. It is the first Unix microprocessor able to calculate decimal floating point arithmetic in hardware, which is an advantage for enterprises running complex tax, financial and ERP programs.
The Power6 processor is built using IBM’s 65 nanometer process technology.