IBM powers world’s fastest chip

New Power6 chip offers environmentally-friendly computing with reduced power consumption.

IBM powers world's fastest chip

IBM claims it is not only the world’s fastest microprocessor but one also able to help cut electricity consumption of datacentres, which makes them more environmentally friendly.

The new Power6 processor clocks in at 4.7GHz and has 8MB of Level 2 cache. The chip has an internal bandwidth of 300Gbps, which IBM said would be fast enough to download the entire iTunes catalogue (20TB of data) in 66 seconds.

According to IBM, the new chip is also twice as powerful as the Deep Blue supercomputer that beat Gary Kasparov at chess in 1997. It also claims that the chip is 2.3 times more powerful than its nearest rival.

Speaking at the launch IBM general manager Larry Hirst said that the new chip manages to double performance ‘without increasing power and cooling requirements one iota’.

‘The issue in the boardroom is climate change, the world of IT needs to step up efforts to combat global warming,’ he said.

Hirst said that IT was often seen as the villain of the piece. ‘We have to use innovation to cut down carbon emissions.’

The company claimed that the equivalent of 30 SunFire v890s could be consolidated into a single IBM System p570, running the Power6 processor, and in turn this could save £50,000 on energy costs.

The 65nm chip also features improvements in the way instructions are executed within the chip. IBM says its researchers increased chip performance by keeping static the number of pipeline stages – the sets of operations that must be completed in a single cycle of clock time – making each stage faster, removing unnecessary work and doing more in parallel. This, said the company, cuts execution time in half or reduces energy consumption. The new chip can also power down memory in a system when it is not being used.

IBM also boasts a new method of chip design, which allows the processor to be used at low voltages as well as in high performance environments. Bradley McCredie, an IBM Fellow, said that the system would save ’90 per cent of floor space, 90 per cent of energy costs and 90 per cent per core software costs.’

IBM also unveiled the latest iteration of its Unix operating system Aix. Aix 6 promises new virtualisation and security features. A beta of the new operating system will available to customers and ISV to download this summer, according to the company.

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