New IBM Power chip breaks speed barriers, promises to be twice as fast as Sun, Intel, AMD chips

“IBM will unveil a new processor on Tuesday that will be twice as fast as those of competitors such as Sun, Intel and AMD when it appears in 2007, according to the group,” Chris Nuttall reports for The Financial Times. “IBM’s Power6 chip is a radical departure from the trend among microprocessor makers to produce more energy-efficient chips after their race to increase speeds created overheating problems. IBM said it had broken through energy and heat barriers with the Power6 to achieve speeds of between 4 and 5 gigahertz – more than double the performance of the next generation of Intel’s Itanium chip, planned at less than 2GHz. The processor will give IBM an edge in the high-end server market, operating faster in the same ‘power envelope’ as its rivals.”

“Richard Doherty, analyst with Envisioneering, a consultancy, said IBM achieved frequencies of 6GHz in their labs. ‘It’s our belief that this is going to be the fastest computing chip and family in the world for some time. A lot of people will be surprised by this. It will cause a lot of companies to go back to the drawing board,’ he said. IBM will make its disclosures about the Power6 at the International Solid State Circuits Conference in San Francisco,” Nuttall reports.

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews reader “Karl” for the link.]

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76 Comments

  1. “The Power6 Series are slated to also b the hottest processors on earth for quite some time. ‘We’ve tested it in our labs,’ Dhoerty says, ‘and found that just one of these processors will generate enough heat to simulate earth’s core temperature, and possibly even surpass that!'”

    SJ said they’ve seen IBM’s roadmap for the next few years (keyword: years), si I think he knew that they were going to go for this already, but didn’t because he was already unsatisfied with them.

  2. It’s a very hot server chip.

    All Universal apps run natively on Intel and PowerPC chips, so if there were a cool desktop version of the Power6, which there isn’t, Apple could easily use it if they choose to.

    Apple with Universal apps can have the best of both worlds.

    Lay off the FUD.

  3. This is the Power architecture that PowerPC follows. I have thought for years that Apple should have been making servers from the Power4 and Power5 architectures. I believe apple should continue to make servers based on PowerPC and even Power CPU’s to get the performance and to force people to keep making universal binaries so they always have the choice to move back and forth as market conditions warrant it.

  4. So?

    This changes nothing about the Intel switch. Apple needs an ENTIRE family of chips for its computers, not ONE big server chip. In order for Apple to be able to use these chips, IBM would have to develop many different variations with different power consumption/ performance ratios. As history has shown us, IBM likes to develop single designs (like the xBox CPU and then manufacture them in large quantities. They are not interested in spending a lot of R&D to develop some chips which will only see limited use throughout their lifespan. If Apple wanted a family of chips based on this chip, the would have to contribute heavily in the cost of development. Also, how long would it be before IBM would have both cosumer and professional derivatives ready based on the Power6 design? Would you be willing to wait that long and see your friends with powerful processors while you are still stuck with aging G5’s, which will never reach 3 Ghz anyhow? Would IBM be able to turn this server chip properly into dedicated consumer chips and not like that stopgap approach that they used for the G5? Too many questions, too few answers. Both Intel and AMD offer consumer-oriented chips for various uses, so this still seems to me a logical choice. Whether Steve knew is a different matter, I do not know what the impact of these chips would be on the so-called performance per watt graph. In any case, I don’t think it will be for long before Intel and AMD either license this technology, come up with something similar or develop something else that does the same thing. Now the barrier has been broken, we might see new chips in the future that once again climb the ladder of Mhz speed without losing performance as much as the Pentium IV did.

  5. who cares aboot mhz ?

    it’s multi-core that matters now

    i’d rather have a quad core intel @ 2 ghz that’s virtually silent and fanless than a overheating G6 @ 5 ghz , that needs a radiator from a car to cool it down

    ibm are crap , good riddance , intel are the way forward

  6. GHz ≠ performance
    IBM POWER ≠ PowerPC
    Server ≠ desktop

    IBM’s server and gaming chips will go on to great things, but the desktop market was too small for them to bother with. They followed the money, and are no longer relevant to us.

  7. This announcement is about a *future* POWER (Performance Optimized With Enhanced RISC) processor. It is quite a *LONG* way from a PowerPC processor. (The original PowerPC processor was a derivative of the combination of IBM’s original single chip version of the POWER processor [the original POWER processor was 7 chips just for the processor itself] and Motorola’s 88000 processor.)

    The media routinely confuses the POWER processor series with the PowerPC processor series. It’s almost as bad as confusing the Itanium series with the Pentium series. There are similarities, of course, but they are quite different and have radically different uses. The POWER processors are designed for servers and high end compute servers. It is extremely unlikely we will EVER see a POWER processor in a laptop.

    Besides, this is a projection… a road map. I’ll believe it when I see it.

    Motorola had 3 GHz PowerPC G5 chips running in the lab as far back as 2001. They had significant problems with it when they went to pre-production. It never materialized as a production chip.

    The PowerPC processor used in Apple’s G5 Mac systems is a derivative of the POWER4 processor. There was supposed to be a PowerPC derivative of the POWER5 processor already in the works back in 2003. Two years ago IBM said it was supposed to be shipping by now. Where is it?

    IF — HUGE IF — a 5GHz POWER6 shows up in 2007, I don’t expect a PowerPC derivative to show up until 2009 or later, if ever.

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