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IBM releases "world's most powerful" 5.5GHz processor

IBM releases "world's most powerful" 5.5GHz processor

IBM's zEC12 mainframe uses hexa-core chips running at 5.5GHz, with IBM claiming they're the most powerful processors around.

IBM claims to have created the world's most powerful microprocessor, a hexa-core design running at 5.5GHz and found at the heart of its new zEnterprice EC12 high-performance mainframe system.

An application-tuned out-of-order superscalar chip, the unnamed zEC12 processor includes some serious technology beyond its eyebrow-raising stock clock speed. Perhaps its biggest improvement over IBM's previous processors - and those from competing companies - is support for transactional execution, a system which treats system resources in a similar manner to a transactional database system to eliminate the overhead of software locking systems.

Although this requires software support - with IBM declaring that it will be adding support for the transactional execution facility of the new chip in an upcoming update to its Java runtime environment - it promises to seriously improve the efficiency of many-core systems. With the top-end zEC12 system packing a whopping 120 cores, that's something which is key to keeping things ticking over.

While IBM's zEC12 chip's transactional execution support makes the server the first general-purpose enterprise-scale system to include such a feature, similar technology is being adopted elsewhere. Intel's upcoming Haswell processor family, for example, will include Transaction Synchronisation Extensions (TSX) for much the same reason.

The zEC12 processor also includes an Enhanced-DAT2 facility, allowing languages to exploit 2GB page frames for more efficient use of vast quantities of memory, along with a decimal-to-floating point zoned conversion facility which will be supported in IBM's next PL/I compiler release.

Outside the processor, the zEC12 includes support for Flash Express memory. Designed for systems where bursts of activity are expected - such as a banking or retail system, where certain times of day result in a massive increase in demand - Flash Express memory is claimed to improve availability compared to traditional memory systems. Finally, the zEC12 is also the first of IBM's high-end mainframes to support operation without a raised floor, thanks to a new overhead power and cabling layout system.

While likely out of the reach of most of our readers - with pricing being very much only on formal application - IBM's zEC12 is nevertheless important: with support for transactional memory, it's validation for Intel's decision to add the same technology to Haswell - and suggests that software support will be forthcoming, initially for server applications but later for client software too.

It also gives chipmakers a new target for which to aim - and we're expecting both Intel and AMD to do their damndest to release 5.5GHz parts of their own for the high-performance computing markets - and what starts in the HPC and supercomputer markets trickles down to the data centre and, inevitably, to the desktop, meaning faster chips for all.

19 Comments

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Guinevere 29th August 2012, 11:30 Quote
But will it play cr...

Sorry, I completely forgot it's 2012 and we've all moved on.
r3loaded 29th August 2012, 11:36 Quote
^^ Good. I was just about to start lecturing you on systems architecture :D
towelie 29th August 2012, 13:35 Quote
How are these board of chips cooled anyone?
Gareth Halfacree 29th August 2012, 13:42 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by towelie
How are these board of chips cooled anyone?
Watercooling, same as most mainframes.
proxess 29th August 2012, 14:14 Quote
But will it play Crysis 3?
Sylvester20007 29th August 2012, 14:42 Quote
^^ It can play Pong, problem is only Chuck Norris can play pong that fast!
fallenphoenix 29th August 2012, 16:30 Quote
Transactional memory gives me the warm and fuzzies.
Mongoose132 29th August 2012, 16:52 Quote
I know some of those words.
Tibby 29th August 2012, 17:11 Quote
Yet I still have a Thinkpad with an Intel Centrino, and have to wait 2 more years till a tech re-fresh. Eugh.
Virus44 29th August 2012, 18:09 Quote
*Meanwhile truegamer pulls out his wallet* :D
Santa-san 29th August 2012, 20:54 Quote
Lol.
It's always fun to read this kind of news, where development is at. Something people might have at home one day. Who knows? :-)
xxxsonic1971 30th August 2012, 00:24 Quote
Will it play 'world of tanks' and facebook at the same time? Or will have to be overclocked?
yougotkicked 30th August 2012, 01:37 Quote
I would be interested in some figures to support their claim. sure 5.5 ghz is unmatched by any competitors, but it's 'only' a 6 core chip, while intel has 8 core xenons with hyperthreading, so for these chips to be the most powerful the transactional execution must bring something really substantial to the table.
fluxtatic 30th August 2012, 06:19 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sylvester20007
^^ It can play Pong, problem is only Chuck Norris can play pong that fast!

Eh, it was better originally, when it was Vin Diesel. Chuck Norris may very well be the world's biggest douchebag (and a sellout - I bet he's getting a cut of the box office and wanted to ensure he'd make as much money as possible - he make more with PG-13 than R.) Vin Diesel, on the other hand, is a pretty cool guy. Eh plays D&D and doesn't afraid of anything.

On topic, though, I think it's funny that one of the advances is overhead cabling - 50-ish years and you're just now getting around to not requiring raised flooring?

I dig these articles - it's unlikely I'll ever work around machines like this, but I like to know what' going on on the other side of the computing world. Plus it explained TSX - I'd seen the initials, but had no idea what it was about.

And yougotkicked - pay them no mind. It's PR hyperbole either way. It isn't as if these run the x86 instruction set, so there's no apples-to-apples comparison to be made.
mm vr 30th August 2012, 10:12 Quote
IBM already released 5.0GHz POWER6 chips in 2007. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/POWER6
Star*Dagger 30th August 2012, 15:47 Quote
We want a 10 Ghz X86 proc that we can overclock to 15Ghz.
Gradius 30th August 2012, 22:55 Quote
Give me a 1THz processor already!
modfx 1st September 2012, 19:20 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by fluxtatic
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sylvester20007
^^ It can play Pong, problem is only Chuck Norris can play pong that fast!

Eh, it was better originally, when it was Vin Diesel. Chuck Norris may very well be the world's biggest douchebag (and a sellout - I bet he's getting a cut of the box office and wanted to ensure he'd make as much money as possible - he make more with PG-13 than R.) Vin Diesel, on the other hand, is a pretty cool guy. Eh plays D&D and doesn't afraid of anything.

On topic, though, I think it's funny that one of the advances is overhead cabling - 50-ish years and you're just now getting around to not requiring raised flooring?

I dig these articles - it's unlikely I'll ever work around machines like this, but I like to know what' going on on the other side of the computing world. Plus it explained TSX - I'd seen the initials, but had no idea what it was about.

And yougotkicked - pay them no mind. It's PR hyperbole either way. It isn't as if these run the x86 instruction set, so there's no apples-to-apples comparison to be made.

I'm watching Pitch Black right now :D
modfx 1st September 2012, 19:23 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by modfx
Quote:
Originally Posted by fluxtatic
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sylvester20007
^^ It can play Pong, problem is only Chuck Norris can play pong that fast!

Eh, it was better originally, when it was Vin Diesel. Chuck Norris may very well be the world's biggest douchebag (and a sellout - I bet he's getting a cut of the box office and wanted to ensure he'd make as much money as possible - he make more with PG-13 than R.) Vin Diesel, on the other hand, is a pretty cool guy. Eh plays D&D and doesn't afraid of anything.

On topic, though, I think it's funny that one of the advances is overhead cabling - 50-ish years and you're just now getting around to not requiring raised flooring?

I dig these articles - it's unlikely I'll ever work around machines like this, but I like to know what' going on on the other side of the computing world. Plus it explained TSX - I'd seen the initials, but had no idea what it was about.

And yougotkicked - pay them no mind. It's PR hyperbole either way. It isn't as if these run the x86 instruction set, so there's no apples-to-apples comparison to be made.

I'm watching Pitch Black as I type :D
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