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IBM shows-off world’s fastest CPU

by Pete Mason on 26 August 2010, 13:47

Tags: IBM (NYSE:IBM)

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Intel and AMD may be battling for the desktop-performance crown, but believe it or not IBM holds the record for the CPU with the highest clock-speed.  Even though it was announced back in July, the company has been going into more detail on the processor at the Hot Chips conference this week.

The quad-core z196 runs at an astonishing 5.2GHz, taking the title from IBM's own 4.7GHz Power6 CPU.  The new chip contains 1.4 billion transistors - 300 million more than Intel's six-core desktop CPUs - on a 512mm2 package made using a 45nm manufacturing-process.

Each core has been given 1.5MB private L2 cache as well as access to 24MB shared L3 eDRAM cache.  Somewhat uniquely, the z196 also has access to a fourth layer of cache off-chip.  Six of these CPUs can be installed into a multi-chip module (MCM) and will connect to each other through two controllers with a total of 192MB shared L4 cache via a 40GB per second link.  Apparently the processors are so fast that this extra level of memory is necessary to ensure that they are constantly fed with data.

Another relatively unusual feature is the use of the CISC-based z/Architecture, as opposed to a more common RISC ISA.  CISC has largely been superseded by RISC, but is still useful for certain operations that require very large amounts of memory to properly run.

According to the presentation, the z196 will find its way into IBM's Z-series mainframes and should start shipping at some point in September.



HEXUS Forums :: 10 Comments

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Another relatively unusual feature is the use of the CISC instruction set, as opposed to the more common RISC or x86 ISAs

Without meaning to sound too pedantic, CISC isn't an instruction set, it's a type of instruction set and x86 is a complex instruction set. This type of CPU uses the z/architechture.
IBM has made some interesting CPUs, including the Xenon and Cell for the 360 and PS3 respectively, I think it would be interesting if they decided to have a go at desktop/workstation CPUs too.
watercooled
Without meaning to sound too pedantic, CISC isn't an instruction set, it's a type of instruction set and x86 is a complex instruction set. This type of CPU uses the z/architecture.

Please, be pedantic all you like. To be brutally honest, this is far from my area of expertise, so corrections are always appreciated. I'll do my best to fix the line.
watercooled
IBM has made some interesting CPUs, including the Xenon and Cell for the 360 and PS3 respectively, I think it would be interesting if they decided to have a go at desktop/workstation CPUs too.


Me too. When I first heard about Cell and then read extensive reviews about it with the PS3 release I was excited at the possibility of it becoming the main processor in PC's as well.

I would expect that IBM are currently doing lots of R&D with Cell, being such a young processor type. Considering the difficulties of PS3 game development I would imagine Operating Systems and other applications would have much more difficulty adapting to the processor.

I do hope they can find a way to get the Cell chip into PC's as it will improve gaming a hell of a lot.
I thought the Cell was something of a white elephant and will only be made as long as Sony (I know there are other customers) need it ?
You can get a modified Cell in your PC with the Leadtek video transcoder card: http://www.legitreviews.com/article/1134/1/ [legitreviews.com]