IBM launching world’s fastest microprocessor

5.2GHz chip dubbed z196 will drink your milkshake

Big Blue says that the shiny new System z10 you just installed in your basement yesterday is officially obsolete and should be relegated to household media streaming/torrent duty in the wake of its replacement.  Behold the zEnterprise System, and its central compute server the zEnterprise 196, capable of processing more instructions than your puny humanoid mind could ever dream of issuing.  Don’t look now, but your girly-man netbook just peed itself.

The zEnterprise System is host to IBM’s latest silicon creation, the z196 processor.  This processor is a 4-core beast containing 1.4 billion transistors, operating at a blistering 5.2GHz, occupying 512-square millimeters of your datacenter, and is built on IBM’s 45nm SOI process in East Fishkill N.Y.  (Damn it, now I’m craving fish and chips.  BRB.)


The z196 CPU earns its “fastest microprocessor” title by virtue of clock-speed alone apparently.  While the performance figures released, it’s known as a press release, by IBM seem impressive, there is no mention of world record breaking performance in any metric besides GHz.

The new zEnterprise 196 server contains 96 copies of this new processor which is good for about 50-Billion instructions per second (Give or take a FMADD or two).  IBM touts this as being over 17,000 times more powerful than its highly successful high-end System/360 ancestor… back in 1970.  (Really?  1970?)  The new behemoth is also being talked up as being 60% faster in certain workloads than that antiquated POS z10 of yours.  Such workloads include data managed by DB2/IMS, and general Java performance on Linux, though we imagine the cards should fall about 60% faster as well when you beat solitaire.  IBM declined us a system to test said card-claim however, so we will just have to wait for the first round of benchmarking to confirm this.

One genuinely impressive tid-bit released about the new system, however, is that it generates these massive improvements in performance inside the same approximate power envelope of its predecessor.  Granted IBM’s gigantor mainframe systems have never been known to sip power, but 60% more performance with negligible extra power overhead has got to be a godsend to those people mulling over a zEnterprise purchase in the near future.


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