IBM's juiced Power6 stomps poor, old Power5+

A 2x joint


ISSCC At a time when rivals have given up on juicing their processors, IBM plans to crank the heck out of Power6. The dual-core chip due out by mid-2007 will come in "just shy" of 5GHz and flaunt double the performance of today's Power5.

"We are showing that we're really doing twice the speeds and feeds of Power5," IBM's chief engineer Brad McCredie told us in an interview at ISSCC. "As usual, I think we are out there leading the industry."

The leadership claim came easier back when IBM beat competitors to the dual-core arena with Power4. But here we are in 2007 with IBM still sitting on dual-cores and a chip once meant to ship in 2006. In addition, IBM plans to take Power6 beyond 5GHz, while the entire industry scales back on pure speed in favor of numerous lower power cores that can digest more software threads.

IBM scoffs at suggestions that it has misread the market with Power6. The company preaches balance, balance, balance with a processor that can crush single threads while keeping overall system power consumption low.

Evidence of IBM's system balance can be seen via the servers planned for Power6. For the first time, IBM will push Power6 into its blade server lineup, replacing PowerPC chips. IBM plans to craft a special low voltage version of Power6 "in the lower 4GHz range" for such compact boxes. Power6 will then scale all the way up to a 64-socket beast - twice the size of the biggest Power5-based system shipping today. [IBM also plans to ship one-core versions of Power6.]

"We are able to scale the design pretty well," McCredie said.

"We are putting dual-core up and down the product line," he added, making sure we were paying attention.

While Sun bangs on about software threads with its upcoming 16-core Rock chips, IBM maintains that a more balanced - now we're making sure that you're paying attention - approach makes sense at this time. Customers still need strong single thread performance, and IBM still needs to pummel competitors on benchmarks.

Tradeoffs? What tradeoffs?

At 5GHz, you might expect Power6-based systems to make their way into the office kitchen for egg sandwich cooking duty. That's not the case, according to IBM, which has added a number of power management features to the chip.

With Power6, you get double the frequency and double the bandwidth but the same power threshold as Power5.

Customers will also find new tools for controlling how much power a server consumes. Using IBM's management software, a customer can set a wattage threshold policy for a system. Additional tools provide customers with data on how much power their servers consume.

"If they have all this information, a lot of customers will actually find they do have power to spare," McCredie said. "They just needed to know where it is."

Power6 has tool for tweaking the voltage and frequency of the chip, depending on demand, and has a "nap" mode that can lower power consumption by up to 35 per cent.

Looking forward, IBM plans to slot Power6 into midrange systems first and then scatter the chip into lower- and higher-end boxes. It's also considering a four-core version of the chip once IBM moves to a 45nm manufacturing process.

"We are exploring those options," McCredie said. ®


Other stories you might like

  • Chip shortage forces temporary Raspberry Pi 4 price rise for the first time

    Ten-buck increase for 2GB model 'not here to stay' says Upton

    The price of a 2GB Raspberry Pi 4 single-board computer is going up $10, and its supply is expected to be capped at seven million devices this year due to the ongoing global chip shortage.

    Demand for components is outstripping manufacturing capacity at the moment; pre-pandemic, assembly lines were being red-lined as cloud giants and others snapped up parts fresh out of the fabs, and the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak really threw a spanner in the works, so to speak, exacerbating the situation.

    Everything from cars to smartphones have been affected by semiconductor supply constraints, including Raspberry Pis, it appears. Stock is especially tight for the Raspberry Pi Zero and the 2GB Raspberry Pi 4 models, we're told. As the semiconductor crunch shows no signs of letting up, the Raspberry Pi project is going to bump up the price for one particular model.

    Continue reading
  • Uncle Sam to clip wings of Pegasus-like spyware – sorry, 'intrusion software' – with proposed export controls

    Surveillance tech faces trade limits as America syncs policy with treaty obligations

    More than six years after proposing export restrictions on "intrusion software," the US Commerce Department's Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) has formulated a rule that it believes balances the latitude required to investigate cyber threats with the need to limit dangerous code.

    The BIS on Wednesday announced an interim final rule that defines when an export license will be required to distribute what is basically commercial spyware, in order to align US policy with the 1996 Wassenaar Arrangement, an international arms control regime.

    The rule [PDF] – which spans 65 pages – aims to prevent the distribution of surveillance tools, like NSO Group's Pegasus, to countries subject to arms controls, like China and Russia, while allowing legitimate security research and transactions to continue. Made available for public comment over the next 45 days, the rule is scheduled to be finalized in 90 days.

    Continue reading
  • Global IT spending to hit $4.5 trillion in 2022, says Gartner

    The future's bright, and expensive

    Corporate technology soothsayer Gartner is forecasting worldwide IT spending will hit $4.5tr in 2022, up 5.5 per cent from 2021.

    The strongest growth is set to come from enterprise software, which the analyst firm expects to increase by 11.5 per cent in 2022 to reach a global spending level of £670bn. Growth has fallen slightly, though. In 2021 it was 13.6 per cent for this market segment. The increase was driven by infrastructure software spending, which outpaced application software spending.

    The largest chunk of IT spending is set to remain communication services, which will reach £1.48tr next year, after modest growth of 2.1 per cent. The next largest category is IT services, which is set to grow by 8.9 per cent to reach $1.29tr over the next year, according to the analysts.

    Continue reading
  • Memory maker Micron moots $150bn mega manufacturing moneybag

    AI and 5G to fuel demand for new plants and R&D

    Chip giant Micron has announced a $150bn global investment plan designed to support manufacturing and research over the next decade.

    The memory maker said it would include expansion of its fabrication facilities to help meet demand.

    As well as chip shortages due to COVID-19 disruption, the $21bn-revenue company said it wanted to take advantage of the fact memory and storage accounts for around 30 per cent of the global semiconductor industry today.

    Continue reading
  • China to allow overseas investment in VPNs but Beijing keeps control of the generally discouraged tech

    Foreign ownership capped at 50%

    After years of restricting the use and ownership of VPNs, Beijing has agreed to let foreign entities hold up to a 50 per cent stake in domestic VPN companies.

    China has simultaneously a huge market and strict rules for VPNs as the country's Great Firewall attempts to keep its residents out of what it deems undesirable content and influence, such as Facebook or international news outlets.

    And while VPN technology is not illegal per se (it's just not practical for multinationals and other entities), users need a licence to operate one.

    Continue reading
  • Microsoft unveils Android apps for Windows 11 (for US users only)

    Windows Insiders get their hands on the Windows Subsystem for Android

    Microsoft has further teased the arrival of the Windows Subsystem for Android by detailing how the platform will work via a newly published document for Windows Insiders.

    The document, spotted by inveterate Microsoft prodder "WalkingCat" makes for interesting reading for developers keen to make their applications work in the Windows Subsystem for Android (WSA).

    WSA itself comprises the Android OS based on the Android Open Source Project 1.1 and, like the Windows Subsystem for Linux, runs in a virtual machine.

    Continue reading
  • Software Freedom Conservancy sues TV maker Vizio for GPL infringement

    Companies using GPL software should meet their obligations, lawsuit says

    The Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC), a non-profit which supports and defends free software, has taken legal action against Californian TV manufacturer Vizio Inc, claiming "repeated failures to fulfill even the basic requirements of the General Public License (GPL)."

    Member projects of the SFC include the Debian Copyright Aggregation Project, BusyBox, Git, GPL Compliance Project for Linux Developers, Homebrew, Mercurial, OpenWrt, phpMyAdmin, QEMU, Samba, Selenium, Wine, and many more.

    The GPL Compliance Project is described as "comprised of copyright holders in the kernel, Linux, who have contributed to Linux under its license, the GPLv2. These copyright holders have formally asked Conservancy to engage in compliance efforts for their copyrights in the Linux kernel."

    Continue reading
  • DRAM, it stacks up: SK hynix rolls out 819GB/s HBM3 tech

    Kit using the chips to appear next year at the earliest

    Korean DRAM fabber SK hynix has developed an HBM3 DRAM chip operating at 819GB/sec.

    HBM3 (High Bandwidth Memory 3) is a third generation of the HBM architecture which stacks DRAM chips one above another, connects them by vertical current-carrying holes called Through Silicon Vias (TSVs) to a base interposer board, via connecting micro-bumps, upon which is fastened a processor that accesses the data in the DRAM chip faster than it would through the traditional CPU socket interface.

    Seon-yong Cha, SK hynix's senior vice president for DRAM development, said: "Since its launch of the world's first HBM DRAM, SK hynix has succeeded in developing the industry's first HBM3 after leading the HBM2E market. We will continue our efforts to solidify our leadership in the premium memory market."

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021