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5/21/2007
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IBM Debuts Power6 In New Unix Server

The company says its 4.7-GHz dual-core processor could process a download of the entire iTunes catalog in 60 seconds.

IBM on Monday took the wraps off a new processor and server combination that the company hopes will be a big hit with enterprises running complex tax, financial, and ERP programs. On sale this week, IBM's new System p 570 is debuting the company's hefty new 4.7-GHz dual-core Power6 processor. The midrange Unix server can be configured to support as many as 16 cores and comes with many power-saving features -- a current focus area for IBM's server line.

The hallmark of the server is the new Power6 chip, which has a total cache size of 8 Mbytes per processor -- four times the Power5 chip.

"It is the first Unix microprocessor able to calculate decimal floating point arithmetic in hardware. Until now, calculations involving decimal numbers with floating decimal points were done using software," IBM said in its announcement.

IBM claims the processor allows the System p 570 to run faster and more efficiently than three HP Superdome machines or more than a dozen SunFire v890 servers.

In fact, the new processor and server combination is so fast, IBM said it was able to best four of SPEC.org's independent performance benchmarks for Unix servers.

As an example, IBM said the Power6 processor has an available bandwidth of 300 Gbytes per second, which it says could process a download of the entire iTunes catalog in about 60 seconds.

This is also the first time that IBM is rolling out a new software virtualization capability that allows customers to move live virtual machines from one physical Unix server to another while maintaining continuous availability. Called the Power6 Live Partition Mobility function, the technology allows a system administrator to move active virtualized partitions without temporarily suspending them. Previously, the same action would have required a reboot of the Unix system and software stack. IBM said the software is in beta with general availability planned for later this year.

In addition to its debut in the System p 570, IBM said it plans to introduce the Power6 chip throughout its System p and System i server lines.

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