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IBM: Power5 four times faster than Power4

Big Blue Boasts as chip runs in lab servers

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IBM told the world today that servers based on its upcoming Power5 processor are now working away in servers in the company's labs. And it boasted that they're up to four times as powerful as the first generation of Power4 CPUs.

Since Power5 isn't due to ship until next year, today's 'announcement' is all just press-release posturing, of course. Indeed, IBM said earlier this year that it expects such a quadrupling of performance. And since the calculations were made according to IBM's "internal performance measures", there's little anyone can do but take Big Blue's word for it.

But IBM's announcement may at least serve to help convince customers that everything's OK on the OS front. Power5-based will run AIX, it says, which "is the fastest growing Unix operating system", apparently. Is IBM trying to turn anti-SCO sentiment into an AIX install fest?

Power5, like Power4, is a dual-core processor, packaged into units containing four processors. The new cores will not only deliver higher clock speeds, but support Intel HyperThreading-style simultaneous multi-threading (SMT) technology. SMT can be disabled on a per-application basis, according to whether it is likely to boost the performance of a given app.

Each Power5 contains its own memory controller, which can talk to the L3 cache now integrated into the multi-chip unit. Each core on the Power5 die has its own L2 cache, which will be larger than the Power4 core's. Like the Power4+, the Power5 will be fabbed at 0.13 micron. It is expected to ship at 1.4GHz to 2GHz, taking it above the Power4+, which will probably peak at 1.8GHz.

The chip will also feature IBM's eLiza self-management and fault-correction technology. So when a Power5 system detects repeated errors it moves the workload to another part of the machine.

Power5 is likely to be offered to customers in eServer pSeries and iSeries machines, and IBM's TotalStorage enterprise storage server. ®

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