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IBM smacks rivals with 5.0GHz Power6 beast

Then pours water on them

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The rest of the server world can play with their piddling 2-3GHz chips. IBM, meanwhile, is prepared to deal in the 5GHz realm.

The hardware maker has unveiled a Power6-based version of its highest-end Unix server - the Power 595. The box runs on 32 dual-core 5GHz Power6 processors, making it a true performance beast. This big box completes a protracted roll out of the Power6 chip across IBM's Unix server line.

Along with the big daddy, IBM revealed a new water-cooled version of the Power 575 server dubbed the Hydro-Cluster. In addition, it refreshed the existing midrange Power 570 server.

IBM's top Power executives showed off the fresh gear during a customer and press event here in San Francisco. They wheeled out three Power customers who were thrilled to be part of IBM's Unix experience. We guess that a disgruntled Power user or two could not be located on short notice to provide balance.

The Power 595 ships in a massive cabinet that looks just like that of its predecessors, except IBM has added a few green touches to the case. This green reflects the environmentally friendly nature of IBM's hulking metal tower, we're told.

The Power 595, available on May 6, relies on a series of four-socket "books" or boards. You can fill a system with between one and eight boards, using both 4.2GHz and 5.0GHz chips. This monster can hold up to 4TB of DDR2 memory. You'll find the rest of the specifications here where IBM details the various options with its I/O drawers.

Usually, IBM will hit customers with a massive TPC benchmark score when it rolls out a new 595-class system - just to let HP know how much it cares. Apparently, the company is saving that gem for a later date, opting instead just to show how the Power 595 wallops HP's Itanium gear and Sun's SPARC systems on SAP and SPEC benchmarks. We're told that IBM's new system beats out the rivals by 2x to 3x. We thought it rather sporting of IBM to include Sun's gear in the benchmarks.

The Power 575 is a different type of high-end creature with IBM characterizing the system as a supercomputing machine. As mentioned, IBM has layered water-filled coils over each of the boards in the 575, allowing it to create a more dense design.

Customers can fit up to 14 2U boards in the huge 575 case with 16 4.7GHz dual-core chips per board. You'll also manage to outfit each board with up to 256GB of memory. The rest of the rather complex specifications are here.

According to IBM, the water-cooling can reduce typical data center energy consumption by 40 per cent when compared to air cooled 575s. In addition, the refreshed box offers up 5x the performance of older 575 systems. IBM has benchmarked a single 575 board at 600 GFlops.

The system will ship in May, running AIX or Linux.

The refreshed 570 still runs on 3.5-4.7GHz versions of Power6, just as it has done since last year. Now, however, customers can tap a "hot node" feature that lets them add additional systems to an already running box for extra horsepower and storage. IBM has shipped 8,000 of the systems to date. ®

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