IBM’s New CPU Clocks Just Shy Of 5GHz

Putting the gigahertz fun back into processors.

There’s something I miss about raw clock speed. Hearing that a CPU had broken 100MHz or 1GHz gave a genuine sense of advancement that a Core 2 Duo E6400 (2.13GHz) or other simply can’t match. IBM has plans to change that…

With the announcement of the dual core ‘POWER6’ Big Blue is making great fuss about the fact that it can run at an astonishing 4.7GHz. This is nearly twice that of any AMD or Intel processor out there – but should we care?

The answer is yes and no. Yes, because greater performance is garnered from adding more cycles per core and because it boasts a remarkable bandwidth of 300Gbps, something IBM claims gives it the ability to “download the entire iTunes catalogue in about 60 seconds – 30 times faster than HP’s Itanium”. No, because this is server orientated and ‘PowerPC’ desktop equivalents have a long history of lagging behind the POWER brand.

That said, this remains a highly impressive achievement and the 65nm chip (which carries 8MB cache per core) consumes no more power than its sub 2GHz POWER5 predecessor. Unfortunately, the price is unlikely to be a good way up five figures when it does launch in the next month.

If only IBM could (quickly) harness some of this technology in its desktop offerings it would scare the living daylights out of AMD and Intel and make Apple do some serious soul searching…

IBM POWER Architecture

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