IBM Brings Dual Core to PowerPC Processor

The new chip, the PowerPC 970MP, is aimed at entry-level servers, clustered environments and the embedded market.

IBM has launched a dual-core version of its PowerPC processor, a move that industry observers said has been in the works for more than a year.

IBM announced the PowerPC 970MP on Thursday at its Power Everywhere show in Tokyo. The new chip is aimed at entry-level servers, clustered environments and the embedded market. It is a dual-core version of IBMs current 970FX chip.

Company officials, many of whom were in Japan, could not be reached for comment on Friday.

According to the Armonk, N.Y., company, the PowerPC 970MP offers speeds ranging from 1.4GHz to 2.5GHz, and each core has its own 1MB of Level 2 cache. It also comes with a variety of power-saving features, including the ability for the frequency and voltage to be throttled down when workloads are light.

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here to read about a low-power Opteron from Advanced Micro Devices Inc.

In addition, each core can individually be put into a power-saving state—called "doze"—or completely shut down while the other core continues operating, the company said in a release.

Also at the show, IBM announced a low-power version of its PowerPC 970FX chip. The chip offers operating power of 13 watts at a frequency of 1.4GHz to 16 watts at 1.6GHz. The chip also offers features that can dynamically control power consumption.

IBM uses PowerPC chips in a variety of systems, including its Blue Gene supercomputer offering and its JS20 blade server. In addition, Apple Computer Inc. currently uses PowerPC chips, and reportedly is considering using the new dual-core offering in its PowerMac G5 systems.

Energy efficiency and thermal issues are becoming key concerns of businesses as more cores are added to processors and the frequency continues to climb. IBM and Sun Microsystems Inc. already offer dual-core processing in their respective Power and SPARC processors, and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and Intel Corp. have begun introducing the capability in their x86 server and desktop chips.

Apple, of Cupertino, Calif., made headlines last month when it announced it was migrating off the PowerPC chips and adopting Intel Corp. processors. Apple CEO Steve Jobs said at the companys Worldwide Developer Conference that the decision was made because the power consumption of future PowerPC chips would make it difficult to fit them into Apple system designs.

/zimages/3/28571.gifRead more here about Apples switch to Intel.

In an interview with eWEEK and late last month, Rod Adkins, vice president of development for IBMs Systems and Technology Group, disputed Jobs claim, saying that IBMs PowerPC roadmap could cover Apples future plans.

"Our point of view is that was somewhat misleading," Adkins said. "Apple positioned it that way in the public. Obviously I have a different point of view, because theres nothing about Power architecture that limits you in any way in terms of power management or power efficiency."

Apple was interested in Intels mobile chips, Adkins said. Industry observers expect Apple to adopt Intels Pentium M mobile chip first for low-end desktops and notebooks.

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