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IBM's new Power6 CPU pushes 5GHz

updated 03:50 pm EDT, Mon May 21, 2007

New IBM CPU pushes 5GHz

In a bid to regain some lost ground to chip making industry-leaders Intel and AMD, IBM has announced that its dual-core POWER6 microprocessor -- due to ship next month -- will top out at 4.7GHz, but draws about the same amount of power as the company's previous generation processors. The new processors, designed for high-end servers, push IBM to the forefront of performance computing: while others have focused on multiple cores, IBM is offering megahertz performance in a dual-core chip. According to the company, the new processor boasts bandwidth of 300GB per second, offering the ability to "download the entire iTunes catalog in about 60 seconds - 30 times faster than HP's Itanium."

In shipping the new chip, IBM is hoping to buck the trend of decreasing or stagnant clock-speed in favor of more cores, and instead show that it can deliver more cycles per core while still conserving power.

Although the industry-leading performance of the new chips will lead some Mac users to lament the move to the Intel-based architecture, the new chips are not drop-in replacements for the legacy PowerPC chips produced by both Motorola and IBM. Those chips were used in legacy Macs since the mid-90s, but were dropped in favor Intel's more power-efficient Core architecture and due to future performance concerns. Since then, Intel has revved its Core-based chips twice and delivered quad-core Xeon chips for Apple's workstations.

While the PowerPC processor is based largely on the POWER architecture, and there is a high degree of compatibility between the two chip lines (POWER chips contain the a superset of the PowerPC instructions), PowerPC chips with specs matching those of their POWER counterparts generally lag significantly. Pricing is also a factor. Although IBM hasn't yet released exact details on the POWER6's price, IBM's high-end servers will purportedly fetch more than $50,000 at lauch.

by MacNN Staff




  1. gudin

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Uh oh

    Powerbook G5 at WWDC!

  1. dimplemonkey

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Reminds me of song...

    Too much, too little, too late, to ever try again...

  1. Zkatz007

    Joined: Dec 1969



    And just when I got a Mac Pro!

    @ gudin: Good one!

  1. Sosa

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I want my G6!

    This doesn't necessarily mean Apple's decision was bad, as there were many other factors involved switching to intel, such as portability, heat dissipation, etc.

  1. Glasspusher

    Joined: Dec 1969


    intel != power efficient

    If Intel's stuff is so damn power efficient, why is my MBP using 35 watts at idle, and 85 watts full out? Where is that Santa Rosa based MB? I wonder what Apple did with the first gen Macbooks, because they sure seem like power hogs compared to their old stuff and to other intel notebooks.

  1. Person Man

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Power6 != PowerPC G6

    'nuff said.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Gudin, this has nothing to do with a Powerbook G5! Will you people let that go! They said it was never coming, and they were right.

    This is about the Powerbook G6!!! Woohoo! Finally, in your face you Powerbook G5 rumor mongers! You missed this one completely!

    And sosa, this has nothing to do with Apple's decision. I guess they could have sat on their G5's for another year, maybe trying to push 4 of them into a Mac tower, and just hoping people didn't notice just how far behind the performance curve they were lagging. All for the hope of something better coming out (yeah, I think that's the kind of hope that had us stuck at 500MHz in the late 90s, wasn't it?).

    Finally, person man, of course the Power6 != powerPC g6. The Gx moniker was derived by Apple to label their computers/chips. It has/had no bearing on the actual chip or anything, just something apple started doing. In theory, Apple could have called their MacIntels G6's and been perfectly fine in doing it (of course, that's not saying every poster here wouldn't be up in arms of the naming, but its just a name). And the chip itself is priced right up Apple's alley. It'd be perfect for them to keep those prices high!

    And since this chip doesn't have Altivec, its really c*** anyway!

  1. benj

    Joined: Dec 1969


    PG G6

    Oh yeah, when you get your new PBG6 better buy a personal wind tunnel to keep it cool...

  1. lordarka

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Wrong Decision?


    "...because they sure seem like power hogs compared to their old stuff and to other intel notebooks."

    Macbook pros run some of the fastest Core 2 Duos on the market, and absolutely demolish any G4 notebook out there; using CS3 on my Core Duo MacBook at 1.83GHz is as fast as using it on a G5 DP 2.5. For so much more power, I can sacrifice the hour or so more battery life my G4 would give me.

    Of note is that, even with these fast CPUs, the MacBook and MacBook Pro get equal or better battery life than what my colleagues are using in the Windows world; AMD Turions in particular conk out within 2h of being away from a power cord.

  1. slider

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Lost Ground Just Deserved

    They had Apple computer, but Apple wasn't a big enough fish to develop efficient Power XX processors. I'm sure it cost verse benefit decision. One could argue that as Apple is not gaining markable market share IBM made a mistake, but I think a lot of the gain can be attributed to Apple switching to Intel. Lots of people liked Macs, but needed to run PC only programs like AutoDesk CADD, ArcView, etc. which they can with an Intel Mac with out the same performance hits of Virtual PC. Personally I like that the "processor" battle is off the table, it leads for a more constructive comparison of the OSs and yes, hardware.

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