Feeds

IBM gives birth to 'wire-speed' processor

Neither server fish nor network fowl

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

ISSCC IBM has introduced a new chip design that sits somewhere between a network processor and server processor.

Dubbed the Wire-Speed Power Processor, the chip is aimed at what IBM calls "new, evolving markets in the system industry." Applications include edge-of-network processing, intelligent I/O for servers and network attached appliances, distributed computing, and network streaming.

"I think this product is one of the most complex chips we've ever done in the history of IBM," said IBM's chief wire-speed architect Charlie Johnson while presenting his paper on the chip at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) Monday in San Francisco.

The paper describes wire-speed processors as being "not network endpoints that consume data, but inline processors that filter or modify data and send it on."

"If you look into a typical tiered data center," said Johnson, "what you'll find is there's a range of systems in there, ranging all the way from the network to the file servers and database servers. And so wire-speed processing is at the convergence of network processing and database-server kinds of server processing."

IBM's new processor, said Johnson, is "sort of a blurring of the two different worlds." A wire-speed processor, he explained, is neither a network processor nor a server processor, but has attributes of both.

To that end, the first-generation IBM wire-speed processor described by Johnson not only includes 16 quad-threaded cores, but also a battery of task-specific, multi-engine accelerators to handle crypto, XML, compression, and RegX duties, along with four 10 gigabit-per-second Ethernet and two PCIe Generation 2 channels.

The processor's A2 cores are small, 64-bit PowerPC cores based on IBM's embedded architecture - "a little bit different from our server architecture," said Johnson. Full vitualization and hypervisor support is also included, along with some new instructions that allow for low-latency interaction with the processors' accelerators.

The chip's 16 cores run at 2.3GHz, although Johnson pointed out that they can be run up to 3GHz, but "the power-performance efficiency isn't as good up there, so that's not really interesting to us." The accelerators and I/O channels run at a variety of speeds, with some of the accelerators able to match the cores' clock speeds.

The chip is built using 45nm SOI technology, contains 1.43 billion transistors on its 428mm2 die, and depending upon how many cores are active will consume between 20 and 65 watts, with typical usage being in the 55W range.

But don't expect to plop a device with one of these processors into your data center next week. IBM's Wire-Speed Power Processor is still in the developmental phase. When showing a photo of the chip die at the end of his presentation, Johnson said: "I just pulled this one out of the fab on Thursday." ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
729 teraflops, 71,000-core Super cost just US$5,500 to build
Cloud doubters, this isn't going to be your best day
Want to STUFF Facebook with blatant ADVERTISING? Fine! But you must PAY
Pony up or push off, Zuck tells social marketeers
Oi, Europe! Tell US feds to GTFO of our servers, say Microsoft and pals
By writing a really angry letter about how it's harming our cloud business, ta
SAVE ME, NASA system builder, from my DEAD WORKSTATION
Anal-retentive hardware nerd in paws-on workstation crisis
Microsoft adds video offering to Office 365. Oh NOES, you'll need Adobe Flash
Lovely presentations... but not on your Flash-hating mobe
Cray heaves out even mightier, Lustre-ous Sonexion 2000
Met Office and Los Alamos bomb boffins are apparently among its fans
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence
Download Choosing a Cloud Hosting Provider with Confidence to learn more about cloud computing - the new opportunities and new security challenges.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.