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IBM readies Gigaprocessor PowerPC for server lines

But will it ever finish the PowerPC 620?

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In the months since IBM fell out with Motorola over the direction of PowerPC development, it has been busily working on a server-oriented version of that platform, it has emerged. Unimaginatively codenamed Gigaprocessor, the new design is set to replace the chips currently used in Big Blue's RS/6000 and AS/400 lines, and will be "optimised for the server environment", according to project chief Charles Moore. Moore wasn't exactly generous with details, but he admitted the chip would be binary compatible with current Power and PowerPC software. When quizzed about the difference between a server-oriented CPU and a more general microprocessor, Moore pointed to the former's high level of reliability, extended multi-processing capability, very high I/O bandwidth and focus on minimising memory latency -- the imbalance in speed between processor, system bus and RAM. While he didn't attribute these characteristics to Gigaprocessor per se, it would be difficult to imagine them missing from his project's checklist. Still, Big Blue's record on building server-oriented PowerPCs isn't too strong. Want to embarrass an IBM chip-chief? Just ask him about the PowerPC 620... Even if it does get the thing out of the door, the company has also committed itself to Intel's Merced, putting it on what semiconductor analyst MicroDesign Resources VP Linley Gwennap called "a slippery slope -- IA-64 could steal customers away from its Risc systems". ® Click for more stories

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