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by Mike Zazaian October 12, 2006 - 11:05am, 3 Comments

IBM Cranks Power6 Processor to 5Ghz

IBM plans to clock its upcoming Power6 processors at speeds between 4.0 and 5.0 Ghz, easily making it the fastest conventional server chip available.

Due out in mid-2007, the processors use a new 65-nanometer production process that will cut down on heat while increasing processor speed. The changes go against recent trends in the processor industry, in which clock speeds (frequencies) have been generally lessened in the interest of better energy efficiency. IBM hasn’t neglected efficiency, however, as by making architectural improvements such computing floating point decimals in hardware instead of software the Power6 is able to hit the 5Ghz mark without breaking the energy bank.

The dual-core Power6 chip will also get some improvements that allow it to think outside the binary box. Whereas processors in the past use a binary computing process that calculates equations as a matter of only ones and zeroes, Power6 can use numbers between 1 and 10, allowing it to perform complex instantaneous mathematical equations that weren’t previously possible.

The system would actually bring the processor’s mathematical functioning closer to that of humans, who use decimal mathematics rather than binary. Such an update would not only bring an increase in speed but accuracy as well, as the Power6 will be able to approximate decimal calculations much better than binary computers are capable of. Said Brad McCredie, Power6’s chief architect:

When we do multiplication on the chip, we can do it the same way you learned it in grade school.

Of course in grade school you weren’t expected to calculate pi to a thousand decimal places in a fraction of a second. That didn’t come until college.

[via PC World]