IBM has announced details of the world's fastest computer chip - the microprocessor in a new version of the IBM mainframe that began shipping to customers on Sept. 10. The new zEnterprise technology is the result of an investment of more than $1.5 billion in IBM research and development in the zEnterprise line, as well as more than 3 years of collaboration with some of IBM's top clients around the world.
The z196 processor is a four-core chip that contains 1.4 billion transistors on a 512-square millimeter (mm) surface. The chip was designed by IBM engineers in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and was manufactured using IBM's 45 nanometer (nm) SOI processor technology in the company's 300mm fab in East Fishkill, N.Y. There were also major contributions to the z196 processor development from IBM labs in Austin, Tex., Germany, Israel and India.
The mainframe processor makes use of IBM's patented embedded DRAM (eDRAM) technology, which allows IBM to place dense DRAM caches, or components, on the same chips as high-speed microprocessors, resulting in improved performance.
From a performance standpoint, the zEnterprise System is the most powerful commercial IBM system ever. The core server in the zEnterprise System - called zEnterprise 196 - contains 96 microprocessors capable of executing more than 50 billion instructions per second. That's roughly 17,000 times more instructions than the Model 91, the high-end of IBM's popular System/360 family, could execute in 1970.
This new IBM microprocessor technology has new software to optimize performance of data-heavy workloads - including up to a 66% improvement in Java performance with Linux on System z. The improvement on z196 compared to z10 was measured using a single Java application that focused on a variety of Java Runtime Environment application functions typically used in both client and servers. Increased levels of system performance, in turn, increases software performance, which can reduce software license costs.
The new system offers 60% more capacity than its predecessor, the System z10, and uses about the same amount of electricity.
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