Thursday, August 26, 2010

IBM’s million dollar CPU is the fastest in the world

Except for the true chip maven, computer processors always seem to have the feeling of sameness to them. But IBM’s just got us excited about CPU architectures again: at the Hot Chips 2010 conference, IBM announced their upcoming z196 CPU, which is really, really fast.
How fast? Let’s talk “fastest chip in the world.”
Intended for Z-series mainframe computers, the Z196 has a clock speed of 5.2GHz. Measuring just 512 square millimeters, the Z196 is fabricated on 45nm PD SOI technology, and on its surface contains almost one and a half billion transistors. Otherwise, it features a 64KB Level 1 instruction cache, 1.5MB of private L2 cache per core, a 128K Level 1 data cache and even a pair of co-processors dedicated to doing cryptographic work.
Whew. Blistering. Better, IBM says this puppy is ready to be let off the leash: they’re getting ready to ship the processor sometime in September.
Ah yes, computer builders, I can see the drool collecting in your mouth. But you might want to hold on a second before you get too excited: the Z196 is probably outside of your computer budget. IBM’s saying the chip will costs hundreds of thousands of dollars, and might even reach a million bucks per unit.
Hmm. Maybe that would be worth it… depending on how much it overclocks.

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