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IBM's Power6 slaughters world+HP in transaction cranking

5.0GHz and $17m run to glory

When IBM started rolling out 5.0GHz versions of Power6, you knew it was only a matter of time before the vendor tried to usurp HP as the transaction performance king. And now it has done it.

IBM this week cleared a new TPC-C score that certifies its Power 595 server as the big daddy of transactions. Running on 32 of the dual-core 5.0GHz chips, the box clocked a TPC-C score of 6,085,166 transactions per minute (tpmC) at $2.81 per tpmC. That blows out a 64-processor (128 cores) Itanium system from HP that hit 4,092,799 transactions at $2.93 per tpmC.

Reality, as many of you know, is not the friend of these types of benchmarks. So, we'll note that the IBM set-up used in the benchmark cost $17m and that the system is not slated to be available until December, according to the TPC-C web site. (IBM, however, says that Power 595s with 32 chips are shipping now.)

That said, the score confirms what everyone expected, which is that IBM's Power6 chips can crank the hell out of business transactions.

"The performance of the Power 595 enables customers to replace three 128 core HP Superdomes (384 cores spanning six computer racks) with two 64 core Power 595 servers (128 cores spanning just two computer racks), reducing the number of processor cores by 66 percent, saving 20 percent on energy costs and 55 percent on software licensing purchased by the core, and reducing floor space by 59 percent," IBM boasted.

HP had owned the TPC-C crown since February 2007 and will certainly submit a new benchmark score once it gets the four-core Tukwila flavor of Itanium later this year. It'll be interesting to see if Tukwila is up to the expected public relations task of besting the 5.0GHz Power6. ®

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