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IBM details 5.2GHz processor

IBM details 5.2GHz processor

IBM's Z-series mainframes can really pack a punch, thanks to the new z196 5.2GHz CPU.

IBM has released details of what it claims is the fastest single CPU in the world, which clocks in at 5.2GHz - but Intel et al needn't worry just yet, as the company isn't exactly aiming for mass-market adoption.

The Z196, which PC Magazine reports was announced by IBM at the Hot Chip conference earlier this week, is designed for use in the company's Z-series mainframes - which tend to cost several hundred thousand pounds and are the playthings of major government departments and oil companies, rather than the sort of thing on which you'll be installing Crysis.

The processor is a CISC design with RISC elements based on a 45nm PD SOI process, and features a 64KB L1 instruction cache, a 128KB L1 data cache, and 1.5MB L2 cache per core alongside a shared 24MB L3 eDRAM cache - and the option to configure a 196MB shared L4 cache, too. Interestingly, IBM has also fitted a pair of cryptographic co-processors to the design, which allows the Z196 carry out encryption and decryption operations in hardware without loading the main cores.

The processors are designed to be fitted to a Multi-Chip Module, or MCM, along with a storage control chip, which allows for communication between modules - with each module featuring six Z196 processors and up to 24 active processing cores. As you can fit four such modules to each mainframe, it's unlikely that anyone will be complaining about the lack of power available.

Well, unless we're talking mains power: each individual MCM - and there can be four in each system, remember - is rated to draw around 1.8KW at full load, meaning a top-end mainframe based around the Z196 could draw up to 7.2KW just for the processors.

In short, yes, IBM has the processor performance crown - but unless you're seriously well connected, you're probably never going to get to play with one.

Are you pleased to see that IBM can still give Intel a run for its money in the HPC stakes, or is any processor that has such a small target market by definition a failure - no matter how well it performs? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

26 Comments

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liratheal 26th August 2010, 11:08 Quote
I want one >.>

They look so nice!
r3loaded 26th August 2010, 11:09 Quote
And it actually won't play Crysis *at all* ;)
MaverickWill 26th August 2010, 11:16 Quote
Quote:
The Z196, which PC Magazine reports was announced by IBM at the Hot Chip conference earlier thi week, is designed for use in the company's Z series mainframes which tend to cost several hundred thousand pounds and are the playthings of major government departments and oil companies installing Crysis.

Fixed! ;)
StoneyMahoney 26th August 2010, 11:49 Quote
My big bro works for IBM and probably gets to at least see this kinda stuff in-the-flesh all the time, if not actually use it. I sooo hate him right now....
borandi 26th August 2010, 12:11 Quote
Not x86/x64 compatible. Probably be a bitch to write software for it.
Dr. Strangelove 26th August 2010, 12:18 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by r3loaded
And it actually won't play Crysis *at all* ;)

well if you can get a windows emulator running on it.. it could probably run Crysis in "software" although I guess its been a long time since a game has had that option
Elledan 26th August 2010, 12:29 Quote
POWER 7 is actually pretty nice from the looks of it. They finally changed to an out-of-order execution system, giving a very nice performance boost over POWER 6. They also went with an obscene amount of L3 cache thanks to the use of eDRAM instead of the much larger (physical space-wise) than the SRAM used by Intel and others.

POWER is also a pretty nice architecture to write software for, especially in comparison with x86/x64. It does have a lot features which would be kind of overkill or useless for a desktop system, though :)

Also, there are cheaper versions of the POWER 7 available, where cheap means 'only a few multiples of $1,000' :p
Astatine 26th August 2010, 12:41 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Elledan
POWER 7 is actually pretty nice from the looks of it.

Err, correct me if I'm wrong, but AFAIK this isn't POWER 7. Or indeed POWER at all. It's the Z-Machine, a completely different architecture specifically made for these mainframes. IBM really are mad enough to maintain *two* of their own chip architectures and build small-run, high-cost chips for both...

Although it shares stuff with the current POWER chips, like the eDRAM cache.
GravitySmacked 26th August 2010, 12:52 Quote
Wonder if it overclocks ;)
Mister_Tad 26th August 2010, 13:05 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by liratheal
I want one >.>

They look so nice!

You really don't.

Z-Series machines are massive, heavy, power hungry and I'd be impressed if you managed to get through an IPL, let alone do anything on one :D
cgthomas 26th August 2010, 13:18 Quote
I think I'm well connected......
Unknownsock 26th August 2010, 14:40 Quote
Someone needs to 'somehow' get one of these clock it like mad and do some benchies!
Few years at the top?
CharlO 26th August 2010, 14:44 Quote
I actually get to play... Wait, I work with one. Believe me, I love my phenom 1055 @ 4.2 twenty times what I aprecciate this machine.

Aaand besides, it's far from AMD 7.x record...
Mister_Tad 26th August 2010, 14:47 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Unknownsock
Someone needs to 'somehow' get one of these clock it like mad and do some benchies!
Few years at the top?

I think it needs to be pointed out that THIS is just about as exciting as it gets on these machines.

Despite what IBM would have you believe with the shiny enclosures - Z/Series is not, and never will be sexy
Elledan 26th August 2010, 15:10 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Astatine
Err, correct me if I'm wrong, but AFAIK this isn't POWER 7. Or indeed POWER at all. It's the Z-Machine, a completely different architecture specifically made for these mainframes. IBM really are mad enough to maintain *two* of their own chip architectures and build small-run, high-cost chips for both...

Although it shares stuff with the current POWER chips, like the eDRAM cache.

Yeah, you're right: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_z196_%28microprocessor%29

I honestly didn't know they actually had a second architecture on active duty
liratheal 26th August 2010, 15:19 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mister_Tad
Quote:
Originally Posted by liratheal
I want one >.>

They look so nice!

You really don't.

Z-Series machines are massive, heavy, power hungry and I'd be impressed if you managed to get through an IPL, let alone do anything on one :D

Yeah, but they're pretty! Just because I'd never be able to turn it on, lift it, move it, or use it is irrelevant >.>
Jerz 26th August 2010, 17:29 Quote
When you buy one of these mainframes, do they come with the SDK and support to program on it?
mctigger 26th August 2010, 17:45 Quote
I've been working with IBM mainframe for a well known bank for the last 3 months, Z-OS is nasty to use.... but it could churn through data like nobody's business! however glad the project is finished!
[- pio -] 26th August 2010, 19:28 Quote
Wow, these machines are beasts! And the redundancy built into the z/Enterprise series is jaw-dropping: Each operation is computed simultaneously by two separate cores, then the results are cross-checked. If they don't match, it tries again, and if it still doesn't work, it automatically sends out a service call so that the IBM guy can come over and hot-swap(!) the processor module without interrupting operations... Even the RAM has a parity table, so the machine can survive the failure of a chip or even an entire memory channel! Of course, the power, cooling and I/O are fully redundant as well. You've gotta love that kind of engineering! (wiki)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerz
When you buy one of these mainframes, do they come with the SDK and support to program on it?
I'd think so, seeing what these things cost.. You can probably get them delivered with software specially tailored for your computational needs, for that matter.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mister_Tad
I think it needs to be pointed out that THIS is just about as exciting as it gets on these machines.
No, no, no! Just look; you can get ASCII art!
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/9/94/ZOS_welcome_screen.png
HourBeforeDawn 26th August 2010, 20:00 Quote
you know Im starting to get tired of the Crysis ref. yes it was a poorly coded and bloated game so it caused people to have highend systems to play it but really can we move on now ~_~
CowBlazed 26th August 2010, 20:31 Quote
Thanks for the z-os tidbits, sounds like some heavy duty stuff.
Cthippo 26th August 2010, 21:46 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mister_Tad
I think it needs to be pointed out that THIS is just about as exciting as it gets on these machines.

Despite what IBM would have you believe with the shiny enclosures - Z/Series is not, and never will be sexy

Which one of those options actually runs a program?
javaman 26th August 2010, 22:49 Quote
I wish IMB would enter the mainstream market again =(
MAXDEST 26th August 2010, 23:02 Quote
I work on these machines (not these specific ones, but mainframes in general) and whilst the green screen presented above is about as 'fun' as they get, you can't deny the processing power. They are a lot more powerfull than a straight clock speed comparison to PC's as well, given to the low level operating systems, nearly unlimited storage and communication pipes and software that is sometimes still hand-crafted in assembler (something that hasn't happened on PC's since the heyday of original quake).

As for the chips, even selling the hardware at the massive prices they do IBM probably don't make a huge profit. However the software charging model on mainframes is generally on the basis of either the max CPU speed or CPU seconds used (MIPS). If you have one of these beasts running licenced software IBM, CA and the other big mainframe software people basically have the business on a massive WoW style subscription plan.
_Metal_Guitar_ 27th August 2010, 16:03 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by HourBeforeDawn
you know Im starting to get tired of the Crysis ref. yes it was a poorly coded and bloated game so it caused people to have highend systems to play it but really can we move on now ~_~

And I'm getting tired of people saying it's poorly coded when they have no idea if that's the case. Crytek made it pretty clear they wanted to make a game that would scale just as well on future hardware as it did on older hardware. I can't understand PC enthusiasts bashing the only game in the past 5 years that's actually required an upgrade.
LordPyrinc 28th August 2010, 02:12 Quote
If nothing else, most PC gamers know of Crysis even if they never played it. References to it are everywhere. 10 years from now people will still be making jokes about Crysis and how it would take a whole network of computers to run with all the bells and whistles turned on to the maximum.
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