IBM takes Power7 to the limit

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You'd think from the barrage of publicity that the only two microprocessor companies in the world were Intel and AMD.

But up in East Fishkill in New York State, architects and engineers continue to design future iterations of IBM's Power family. And today IBM has released new Power 7 CPUs that are in a different league to Intel's microprocessors.

IBM will release three systems based on the new Power 7 core - the 780, the 770, and the 755.

All of these are high end scalable beasts - the 780 can support up to 64 Power 7 cores and so can the 770. The 770, IBM claims, uses up to 70 percent less energy than Power 6 CPUs, the previous family.

IBM is also introducing the Power 755 server, cluster node with 32 Power7 cores.

Big Blue is claiming a great deal for its Power7 family of microprocessors - it says that the chips give up to four times the performance of the previous family, and also includes different technologies to up performance. The "intelligent energy" function is used to cut down on power consumption.

IBM more or less owns the market for high end servers running the Unix operating system. Sun, now owned by Oracle, has somewhat lost the plot with its SPARC system, while HP has phased out its PA family and largely relies on Intel Xeon Nehalem servers and at the slightly higher end, uses Intel Itanium processors.

Later today, Intel will announce the latest version of its Itanium processor, codenamed Tukwila and with two billion transistors on the die. Intel is very shy about giving market share figures for the Itanium family, but it's understood that its share is quite tiny.