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Upgrades IBM

POWER7 To Ship In First Half of 2010 73

BBCWatcher writes "In CPU news, IBM says that its POWER7 servers will start shipping in the first half of 2010, on schedule or perhaps even a few months early if you believe Wikipedia. Moreover, upgrades from a wide variety of POWER6 models will be mere CPU swaps, with the upgraded servers keeping their same serial numbers. (Bean counters like that.) POWER7 sports up to 8 cores per die, 4 threads per core, a clock speed a Hertz or two above 4 GHz, 45 nm process manufacturing, on-chip DDR3, and up to 1,000 micropartitions per machine. IBM claims that POWER7 will offer about 256 Gflops per die and two to three times the performance per watt as POWER6. IBM wants to keep taking orders now for its POWER6 gear (duh), so its sales reps are allegedly ready and eager to deal on 6-cum-7 packages. And it looks like that cunning plan could work rather well given Sun's Rock CPU cancellation and HP's delay of Tukwila Itanium to 2010. (Is anybody still in the server CPU race except IBM, Intel, and maybe AMD?) In 2006, POWER7 won the contest for a DARPA supercomputing R&D grant of $244 million, so you could say that each US citizen is in for about a dollar already."
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POWER7 To Ship In First Half of 2010

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  • so, if Apple... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Ralph Spoilsport ( 673134 ) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @03:09PM (#28785851) Journal
    had stayed with IBM, where would they be today?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      They would still be an online music store.

    • Re:so, if Apple... (Score:5, Informative)

      by cabjf ( 710106 ) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @03:14PM (#28785929)
      Given how important laptop sales are to Apple, they would still be facing a losing proposition where IBM just isn't focused on the type of processors needed for mobile applications.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Right, but that is because IBM had decided to g leave this market to PAsemi and its extremely power efficient chips (the 65 nm design needs more or less the same power as an Atom, but gives the performance of a Core Duo, not Core2 however). In its performance range, nothing still matches PAsemi's PA6T, despite the fact that it is one generation behind in process technology.

        Ok, Apple bought PAsemi, what will come out of it is anyone's guess (and I don't believe a world class processor design team is only wor

        • by cabjf ( 710106 )
          That still misses the laptop range though. So IBM has the server market and PASemi has the ultra-power efficient end of the mobile market. That still leaves a gaping whole where Apple puts their laptops. If they're still keeping the Mac OS X code base working on different platforms though (as they were before the Intel switch), it probably wouldn't be too hard to create devices above the iPhone but below the Macbook and Macbook Air based on Power chip designs from PASemi.
    • Re:so, if Apple... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by AchilleTalon ( 540925 ) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @03:16PM (#28785961) Homepage
      Nobody can really tell. Apple had some requirements at its time which imposed some design decisions which made the PowerPC not evolving the same path as the Power. Apple was targetting the workstations market, while the Power 7 is targetting the servers market. These are pretty different chips and it is far to be sure the PowerPC would have become a long term winner for the workstation and the best performance for the bucks chip.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Probably nowhere exciting. The substantial majority of Apple's PC business is laptops and all-in-ones, both applications where low power use is more important than sheer punch. The POWER7 might have good performance per watt; but, unless a miracle has occurred between POWER6 and now, it would be absolutely useless for anything smaller than a workstation(or possibly a blade, where noise isn't an issue).

      It might have made the tiny minority of Mac Pro/Xserve buyers happy; but, unless Apple could have done a
      • When Apple made the switch they were in the exactly the situation you describe. The G5s were still quite competitive with multicores and such. But the Powerbook/iBooks were woefully underpowered with their single G4s.
        • At least, at the time, the G4s were quite competitive in energy use terms. IIRC, P4s and Pentium Ms were both faster; but P4s had lousy battery life (and were largely responsible for the plague of two-inch thick dells that made horrible whining noises just to keep cool) while the Pentium Ms were both fast and cool, but were Intel's premium priced offering at the time. Assuming you didn't care too much about performance, a 12 inch ibook was, by a fair margin, the cheapest thin and light laptop you could get.
    • by FranTaylor ( 164577 ) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @03:36PM (#28786237)

      They would not be in the laptop market, which has overtaken the desktop market. They did the right thing.

      PowerPC has nothing that can compete with Core Duo on the laptop. Not even close.

      • What would stop them from building high-end scientific/medical/video/whatever Mac Pro workstations but using Power6 chips/boards straight from IBM?

        Sure it'd be pricey, but there's a niche for this kinda stuff; SGI & Sun workstations come to mind

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by SethJohnson ( 112166 )

          What would stop them from building high-end scientific/medical/video/whatever Mac Pro workstations but using Power6 chips/boards straight from IBM?

          Maintaining a branch of the OS complete with drivers for a separate chip architecture is non-trivial. Undoubtedly, someone in Apple marketing has a spreadsheet that compares development & maintenance costs of each chip available (ARM, CELL, Intel, Power) with anticipated product demand. Right now the numbers don't work out.


        • OS and Software.

          Apple isn't even supporting Power with 10.6.

          Some other vendor's going to have to fill that role.

        • by SteeldrivingJon ( 842919 ) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @06:23PM (#28788851) Homepage Journal

          Sure it'd be pricey, but there's a niche for this kinda stuff; SGI & Sun workstations come to mind

          You might want to look into how SGI and Sun are doing these days. Especially SGI.

      • by nurb432 ( 527695 )

        True, but they could have dominated the desktop and server market. And with universal binaries, they could have supported both architectures until the right power chip came along for more powerful laptops.

        I also think we would have seen the lower power chips eventually if they had stayed continued with the Power chip a little longer. Walking away from it destroyed any leverage they had, so we never saw what was possible..

        • chicken and egg.

          Apple walking away from power probably had the effect of IBM re-assessing their market, making them divert resources from the mobile chips to the server and console products. Net result: the power7 looks pretty good...
        • by ZosX ( 517789 )

          Something tells me that Apple may see the writing on the wall and positioned themselves to eventually become a software vendor like Microsoft. It would certainly throw the world into a whirlwind if they started offering OS X for off the shelf commodity PC hardware. They may see their position as a hardware vendor as precarious and could have been planning for a potential plummet. If their software already ran on PCs it would be a very easy switch to just stop producing hardware and go software only. I don't

    • had stayed with IBM, where would they be today?

      Probably not in the workstation market. Possibly trying to figure out a way to credibly attack the server market by competing with their supplier of server CPU's in a very awkward way. And, presumably doing a bunch of interesting things in the embedded space beyond iPod / iPhone. I'm imagining all sorts of wacky embedded PPC chips being targeted toward in-car Apple branded entertainment systems, and set top boxes, etc. The "Macintosh" would basically be d

      • Possibly trying to figure out a way to credibly attack the server market by competing with their supplier of server CPU's in a very awkward way.

        PowerPC based Apple servers did not compete with IBM's Power Systems in any way.

        • PowerPC based Apple servers did not compete with IBM's Power Systems in any way.

          Fair enough, but the question was where Apple would be now if they had stuck with IBM CPU's. Without a credible desktop CPU option, they'd have embedded and server CPU's, which means they'd probably be trying to figure out some use for big POWER chips. Possibly in some insane Mac Pro analogue, but much more likley that Apple would be trying to do something in the POWER Server market.

        • Ah so? [wikipedia.org]

          (yeah yeah, short lived system, but at least it had a funny advertisement IIRC...)

    • Dead, Jim.

      Anyway, who says they can't make a server with these chips, or even release OS X for IBM hardware?

  • by Null Perception ( 914562 ) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @03:15PM (#28785951)
    Who will be shipping the second half of 2010? Furthermore, shouldn't we be afraid that terrorists might try and sabotage these shipments and hold time hostage, leaving us to teeter on the precipice at 11:59 December 31, 2009?!
  • IBM has not cut prices on its current Power6 and Power6+ servers, but if the upgrade guarantee doesn't grease the sales skids, that will be the next move.
  • Here comes the DREAMCAST II

  • by skudenfaugen ( 808335 ) on Wednesday July 22, 2009 @04:08PM (#28786725)
    ...working for IBM on the side? Each time I hear about IBM's POWER whatever, all I see is Clarkson shouting in a commercial.
  • Cool, can we get this in a powerbook.. oh wait, Apple abandoned the future...

  • if you believe Wikipedia

    Sure we do!

  • Is it just me or is the tech world currently obsessed with the number 7?

    Intel Core i7
    IBM Power7

Q: How many IBM CPU's does it take to execute a job? A: Four; three to hold it down, and one to rip its head off.