IBM’s eight-core Power7 chip to clock in at 4.0GHz

IBM looks set to join the seriously multi-core set with the Power7 chip. Internal documents seen by The Register show Power7 with eight cores per processor and also some very, very large IBM boxes based on the chip.

The IBM documents have the eight-core Power7 being arranged in dual-chip modules. So, that’s 16-cores per module. As IBM tells it, each core will show 32 gigaflops of performance, bringing each chip to 256 gigaflops. Just on the gigaflop basis, that makes Power7 twice as fast per core as today’s dual-core Power6 chips, although the actual clock rate on the Power7 chips should be well below the 5.0GHz Power6 speed demon.

In fact, according to our documents, IBM will ship Power7 at 4.0GHz in 2010 on a 45nm process. We’re also seeing four threads per core on the chip.

For some customers, IBM looks set to create 2U systems with four of the dual-chip modules, giving the server 64 cores of fun. These 2U systems will support up to 128GB of memory and hit 2 teraflops.

IBM has an architecture that will let supercomputing types combine these 2U boxes to form a massive unit with 1,024 cores, hitting 32 teraflops of performance with 2TB of memory.

And, er, if you are a seriously demanding type, boy, does IBM have the system for you.


IBM is  planning to build a supercomputer that runs at 10 petaflops in 2011. A petaflop is 10^15 calculations per second. So 10 petaflop would be 10^16.

The military recently built the very first supercomputer to break the 1 petaflop barrier. A tenfold increase within 3 years is no laughing matter.

A 10 petaflop supercomputer would also be powerful enough (according to Kurzweil’s calculations, that is) to simulate a human brain in real time.

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