IBM claims doubling of Power processor speed

IBM has revealed that it has developed a new chip manufacturing technology that will enable the next version of its Power processor to run twice as fast as its predecessor.

The Power6 is due to begin shipping in the middle of next year and will perform at between 4 and 5GHz, according to IBM’s chief technologist Bernard Meyerson. It is reported to have hit 6GHz in lab tests.

‘You literally can squeeze silicon, and thereby give it properties to make it faster. The thing that is making it run faster is not just that it’s smaller but because you’re changing its basic physical properties,’ he told Reuters.

Rather than make the processor faster simply by making the transistors smaller – though the new chips will use 65nm process technology – Meyerson explained that IBM can change how the silicon behaves by inserting a layer of insulator between the layers of silicon.

‘There’s nobody looking at anything like this,’ Meyerson told the FT. ‘We have a more highly integrated chip that is multi-core and we are increasing the frequency – we are turning up both knobs at once when the industry is going the other way and turning [the frequency] knob down.’

The Power6 is designed for the server market, now that IBM no longer has Apple’s needs to worry about.

IBM Research announced a Strained Silicon breakthrough back in 2001 and boasted of the improved results for PowerPCs in February 2004.

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