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IBM begins third phase of Power5+ journey

Fewer cores, more options

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IBM appears set to underwhelm customers once again with a sprucing of its Power5+ - based server line.

The vendor has put customers on notice that its Power 285 workstation is now available with 1-core and 2-core versions of the Power5+ chip. Both versions run at 2.1GHz and ship with - wait for it - 36MB of Level 3 cache. We feel more manly just by writing that.

IBM is expected to offer up the one- and two-core versions of 1.9GHz and 2.1GHz chips across the low-end of its Unix hardware line over time.

On July 25, IBM should also announce faster versions of the Power5+ chip for its high-end System P gear, according to some reporter at IT Jungle. IBM's giant p5 590 and 595 boxes still run on 1.65GHz and 1.9GHz chips and could use the 2GHz+ products available elsewhere in the System P lineup.

"IBM's plan for the System p line apparently involves the use of 2.1 GHz multichip modules in the p5 590+ server, spanning from eight to 32 cores, while the p5 595+ machine will have from 16 to 64 cores, and will apparently have MCMs that run at two possible speeds, 2.1 GHz and 2.3 GHz," said the Jungle people.

Like rivals Intel and Sun, IBM has disappointed customers with the latest iteration of its high-end processor line. When IBM shipped the Power5+ chip last October, it did so without a speed bump at all. It took IBM until February to start shipping 2.2GHz Power5+ chips that surged past the old 1.9GHz Power5 products.

Beyond all that, customers had once been told that Power5+ would reach 3.0GHz. That hardly seems likely now. 2.3GHz will have to do.

Launching the new gear on July 25 lets IBM have the high-end stage to itself. Sun today unveiled fresh, high-end Opteron systems, while Intel and HP will celebrate the new dual-core Itanium chip next week. ®

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