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IBM Chip Claims To Crush Itanium to Bits

IBM says it's got the fastest chip ever built and a box to put it in

IBM says it's got the fastest chip ever built and a box to put it in.

The 65nm widget, which IBM hails as being three times as good as the latest enemy Itanium, is a contrarian tour de force 4.7GHz dual-core Power6 processor that doubles the speed of the current Power5 while keeping inside the same power envelope. Users can either up their performance 100% or cut their power consumption in half.

The Power6 chip's 300 Gbps bandwidth makes it capable of downloading Apple's entire iTunes catalog of five million songs in 60 seconds, IBM says, 30 times faster than the Itanium, which currently tops out at 1.66GHz.

IBM is putting the device, with its eight megs of cache, in a new two- to 16-core p 570 server that's supposed to trash the per-core performance of HP's rival Itanium-based Superdome three times over.

IBM expects the box to be used for mid-range consolidation and the virtualization that the company is counting on significantly upping its profitability in the years ahead. It estimates that 30 SunFire v890s could be consolidated into a single IBM machine, saving around $100,000 a year on power.

IBM is going to send System p and eventually i boxes out to do battle against the forces of Dell, Sun and HP and, as a confidence builder, remembers that IDC has upped its revenue share of the Unix market by 10.4% in the last five years versus HP's loss of 5.3 points and Sun's loss of 1.4.

The machine is supposed to be the first to walk off with the four most widely used Unix performance benchmarks, SPECint2006, SPECfp2006, SPECjbb2005 and the old TPC-C.

The p 570 can run SUSE Linux 10 SP1 or later and sometime in Q3 Red Hat 4.5 or later as well as AIX 5.2 or later.

The chip itself, which also itself comes in 3.5GHz and 4.2GHz versions, is supposed to be the first MPU that can calculate decimal floating-point arithmetic in hardware, a task generally done by software.

IBM says the Power6 can also move live virtual machines from one physical Unix server to another while maintaining continuous availability, a unique feat - albeit in beta - that it calls Power6 Live Partition Mobility. Other people have to reboot the system and software stack. The feature's general availability is planned for later this year.

Otherwise deliveries begin June 8. The box starts at $60k.

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