IBM Powers Up Dual Core

The new PowerPC 970MP chip offers twice the power of the PowerPC 970FX yet manages to conserve energy.
IBM is getting into the dual-core processing game, with the announcement of its new PowerPC 970MP chip, the dual-core version of the PowerPC 970FX.

Code-named Antares, the 970MP yields more than double the performance of its predecessor and is designed for customers who require 64-bit symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) in a small, entry-level embedded system ranging from 1.4 to 2.5 gigahertz.

IBM officials announced the chip at an event in Tokyo last week. IBM would not say if Apple, which uses the 970FX in its Macintosh computers running G5 chips, has been testing the PowerPC 970MP after a recent pledge to work with Intel over IBM.

IBM said in a statement each of the two 64-bit PowerPC 970MP sockets, or cores, has its own dedicated 1 megabyte L2 cache, making it much more powerful than the 970FX. Double cache also means customers benefit from a range of operating points that can be matched to system processing needs.

In true dual-core fashion, the PowerPC 970MP is designed to conserve energy despite its higher performance levels. The frequency and voltage of both sockets can also scale downward to reduce the power during periods of reduced workload. Each socket can be placed in a state called ''doze''. This utility saves power while the other core continues running. Also, one of the cores can be shut down during periods of less traffic.

Dual core chips have been popular in 2005 since AMD and Intel began trotting out their offerings for PCs, servers, workstations and other devices. The idea behind dual-core technology is that it provides tremendous performance increases while only consuming the power of a single-socket processor.

As a testament to the ability to make money from products with the nascent chip technology, Dell announced the PowerEdge SC430 server as the first machine to use the technology.

Meanwhile, Big Blue also unveiled new low-power extensions to its PowerPC 970FX, targeted for customers using embedded applications for imaging and networking.

This is targeted for customers who require a 64-bit processor with a sub-20 watt power envelope and SMP. The new offering can operate at 13 watts at 1.4 GHz and 16 watts at 1.6 GHz.

In related news, IBM announced that three additional companies have agreed to join the development community: Denali Software; HCL Technologies Ltd.; and Xilinx.

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