IBM's Power5+ to hit 3GHz

Has nothing on Power6

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The road ahead for IBM's Power chip line is full of speed boosts with the Power5+ chip hitting 3.0GHz and its successor going well beyond that, The Reg can reveal.

Another handy NDA document has fallen into our hands, laying out the roadmap for IBM's Power5 and Power5+ processors along with some Power6 details. IBM has already struck fear in the hearts of its competitors with the dual-core Power4 chip and looks set to apply more pressure on rivals with the future processors.

The Power5 processor will first appear in 2004 at the heart of the Squadron family of servers. These systems will scale from 1 to 64 processors. IBM's current large SMP - the p690 - only makes it up to 32 Power4 chips.

The first Power5 chips will come in at 1.4GHz and make their way up to 2.0GHz before being replaced by the Power5+ chips. It's here that things start heating up with the Power5+ said to run between 2.0GHz and 3.0GHz.

With the Power5 family, IBM is looking to make a number of improvements. Of note, the company hopes to drive memory bandwidth to more than 800GB/s in an SMP, speed up buses and make it possible to run multiple partitions on a single CPU.

IBM plans to improve its floating point performance with the Power5 - a nice competitive boost against Itanium 2. In addition, IBM expects to see gains with its simultaneous multithreading (SMT) technology. IBM claims to be able to turn the SMT technology off and on as needed, depending on the software load.

With Power6, IBM boasts about "very large frequency enhancements," which is not a good sign for competitors. The chip is due out in 2006 or 2007 and will be used in all non-Intel servers. Yep, the zSeries, iSeries and pSeries will all run on the same chip. The Power6 chip appears to be known as the ECLipz project. Some kind of Sun reference?

While IBM has reluctantly started shipping Itanium servers, its heart and soul lies with Power. The company is proud of its high performance computing achievements and with good reason.

Itanic and Opteron can come along for the ride, but Power gets top billing.

This is a refreshing stance in a day and age when other once glorious technology companies have relegated themselves to the role of Intel assemblers. It's not quite time to throw out our rich technology heritage and give into the bottom line just yet. The U.S. still has some quality and expertise to hand out.

No matter how much information Intel shares with its respective OEMs about the Itanium architecture, companies such as IBM and Sun have an advantage in controlling all the parts of their SMPs. HP is the only Itanic vendor that can come close to matching Sun and IBM due to its close ties with Intel on the chip. If you're not HP, have a long, hard think about how much help you'll receive. There aren't all that many EPIC experts to go around. ®


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