IBM grills HP with 4.7GHz Power6-based box

But BBQ starts in November


IBM's protracted Power6 dance ended today with the revelation of a midrange server that shows blistering benchmark numbers.

Big Blue has announced a revamped version of its p 570 system that can hold one to eight of the new 4.7GHz dual-core Power6 chips. When running the TPC benchmark, an eight-way version of the p 570 reached a score of 1.6m, which IBM reckons is three times the performance per core of HP's top Itanium-based Superdome server. The bad news, however, is that customers won't be able to buy the exact IBM box and software used in the TPC test until late November. HP is expected to have updated its Itanium servers by then.

According to IBM, the TPC score stands as a one off anyway. The Nov. ship date is only the result of IBM using Rev 9 of DB2 for the benchmark. That database doesn't ship until November. In addition, the revised database has little effect on the total system performance, according to IBM.

In the meantime, customers can purchase the p 570 in volume with 3.5GHz, 4.2GHz and 4.7GHz chips, starting June 8.

The 4.7GHz chips, in particular, should allow IBM to capture a number of top benchmark scores. IBM has focused on upping the GHz of its high-end server processors at a time when rivals such as HP, Sun Microsystems and Fujitsu have concentrated on making lower power, multi-core processors.

"The processor speed of the Power6 chip is nearly three times faster than the latest HP Itanium processor that runs HP's server line," IBM said. "Even more impressive, the processor bandwidth of the Power6 chip - 300 gigabytes per second - could download the entire iTunes catalog in about 60 seconds - 30 times faster than HP's Itanium."

The Power6 chip had once been scheduled to arrive in 2006.

Despite the delay, IBM thinks it remains poised to beat up on HP and Sun.

"I think we actually have a situation here right now when we look at the broad, competitive landscape where both Sun and HP are starting to fall back in the Unix market," said Brad McCredie, IBM's lead engineer behind Power6.

From Power5 to Power6, IBM moved from an out of order design to an in order design - a drastic change which should require software recompilation for top performance. McCredie, however, downplayed the shift, nothing that the 4.7GHz parts allow IBM to beat rivals today using a standard, older version of AIX and other standard software.

IBM did confirm that it will ship AIX 6 in November, specifically for the Power6-based servers. The company also plans to spread Power6 across its p and i Series server lines in the coming months.

McCredie denied speculation that IBM will struggle to produce enough of the 4.7GHz chips to satisfy near-term demand.

"We have been enjoying very good yields and supply capability," he said.

Both Sun and HP have reported strong, recent high-end server sales. Sun currently competes against IBM with its own UltraSPARC IV+-based servers and a new line of systems built with partner Fujistu. HP goes at IBM with servers based on Itanium chips from partner Intel.

It looks as if Sun and HP will have to rely on basic speed boosts and minor chip tweaks throughout 2007. Neither company has a major chip overhaul planned until 2008, when Sun will pick up its 16-core Rock chips, while HP will move to a four-core version of Itanium.

IBM will likely enjoy a healthy performance lead over Sun and HP until they move to those next-generation products. ®

Broader topics

Narrower topics


Other stories you might like

  • Bipolar transistors made from organic materials for the first time
    Move over silicon – digital circuits have a flexible new friend

    Scientists in Germany claim to have developed bipolar transistors from organic materials, opening a path for flexible and transparent electronics.

    The study, led by Shu-Jen Wang, post-doctoral researcher Technische Universität Dresden, built an organic bipolar junction transistor using doped rubrene. That could help the semiconductor industry to make the switch to organic materials, increasing access to a wide library of materials for building electronic devices.

    Transistors are the basis of today's digital circuits and, at a simple level, allow one signal to control another. They can amplify a signal, or switch between 'on' and 'off' states, through control of a current of charge carriers – which are either electrons or their positive counterpart (holes), or both.

    Continue reading
  • Who's growing faster than Nvidia and AMD? Rising datacenter star Marvell
    Of the top 10 fabless chip designers, the Big M soared in Q1 thanks to switch ASICs

    In the world of fabless chip designers, AMD, Nvidia and Qualcomm usually soak up the most attention since their chips are fueling everything from top-end supercomputers to mobile devices.

    This hunger for compute is what has allowed all three companies to grow revenue in the high double digits recently. But there's one fabless chip designer that is growing faster among the largest in the world and it's far from a household name: Marvell Technology.

    Silicon Valley-based Marvell grew semiconductor revenue by 72 percent to $1.4 billion in the first quarter, which made it the fastest growing out of the top 10 largest fabless chip designers during that period, according to financials compiled by Taiwanese research firm TrendForce.

    Continue reading
  • Semiconductor average lead time breaks half-year barrier
    Ukraine invasion, two Chinese lockdowns, Japanese earthquake cited by financial analysts in supply report

    We all know the global chip shortage has been bad, though here's a new data point: semiconductor lead times grew to an average of 26.6 weeks in March.

    For those who have, in this era of perpetual pandemic, understandably forgotten how calendars work, this means it now takes chipmakers more than half a year, on average, to deliver a variety of semiconductors, from memory and power management chips to microcontrollers to clock and timing electronics to analog and discrete components.

    This figure came from a privately distributed April 5 report on semiconductor lead times from financial analyst firm Susquehanna, which compiles data from the industry's largest distributors. It said that after two months of chip supplies improving, the average lead time increased by two days in the last month.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022