IBM Launches Super Fast P6

IBM says it has the 'fastest processor ever built.'
Maybe IBM's new slogan should be "Got Speed?"

The computer giant yesterday launched Power6, the latest and clearly the fastest in its Power line of microprocessors. At 4.7 GHz, the dual-core Power6 processor doubles the speed of the previous generation Power5 while using nearly the same amount of electricity to run and cool it, according to IBM.

IBM (Quote) said the Power6 has achieved an unprecedented first place rank for four benchmarks, including TPC-C transaction processing benchmarks and SPEC results that measure Java performance.

"This is not about compiler tuning to get the best results, we have a very broad performance lead in industry standard applications like SAP," Brad McCreadie, IBM fellow and lead designer on the Power6, told

Starting June 8, IBM will ship mid-range System p 570 servers based on the Power6. P570 system pricing starts at $60,000. Over the next year IBM plans to ship both higher and lower end servers based on Power6 as well as a blade server.

As for competitive advantage, IBM said its new 2- to 16-core server offers three times the performance per core of the HP (Quote) Superdome machine, based on the TPC-C benchmark. The processor speed of the Power6 chip is nearly three times faster than the latest HP Itanium processor that runs HP’s server line.

Another performance measure IBM listed is that the processor bandwidth of the Power6 chip – 300 gigabytes per second -- could download the entire iTunes catalog of over 5 million songs in about 60 seconds – a speed it claimed is 30 times faster than HP's Itanium.

"It's the fastest out there and there's no increase in power requirements so that's two big check marks in IBM's favor," Nathan Brookwood, analyst with Insight64, told "This is absolutely a play by IBM to gain more market share."

IBM also hopes to tap the interest many companies have in saving on cost, energy and space by consolidation and virtualization. The 570 is being positioned by IBM as "the world's most powerful mid-range consolidation machine." In one example, IBM said it calculates 30 SunFire v890s could be consolidated into a single rack of the new IBM machine, saving more than $100,000 per year on energy costs.

But Sun officials said the v890 is an outdated model and not a fair example. "Our lower range systems are now faster than that," Tom Atwood, group manager of Sun's Sparc enterprise server group, told

Atwood give credit to IBM for its benchmark achievements, but said performance records are "a leapfrog game" that no one company tends to hold for long. He also said the value of consolidation is about more than performance.

For example, Sun's (Quote) own M8000 line developed with Fujitsu, has the ability to hot swap memory and add resources without bringing the system down first. "We can add four new processors without stopping the production environment," said Atwood.

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