Just announced is a chip that takes top honors for a CPU that is not overclocked or water-cooled, coming in at 5.2 GHz. Made by IBM and set to power a new Z-series mainframe, it is not that large a die, but you would not know it from the price quoted .


"IBM revealed details of its 5.2-GHz chip, the fastest microprocessor ever announced. Costing hundreds of thousands of dollars, IBM described the z196, which will power its Z-series of mainframes. The z196 contains 1.4 billion transistors on a chip measuring 512 square millimeters fabricated on 45-nm PD SOI technology. It contains a 64KB L1 instruction cache, a 128KB L1 data cache, a 1.5MB private L2 cache per core, plus a pair of co-processors used for cryptographic operations. IBM is set to ship the chip in September."

It has frequently amazed me that Intel is always getting the nod for innovation, and for records, but in the time I have cared about such things, IBM is usually the company that gets the honors, if not the glory.


IBM also previously claimed the title of fastest microprocessor with the POWER6 chip, which ran at speeds of up to 4.6 to 4.7 GHz, and its own z10, a 2008 chip which ran at speeds of up to 4.4 GHz.

IBM defines the z196 as one of the few remaining CISC chips, which allows for bulky, large programs that can require much more memory to execute in than RISC chips, including the PowerPC and ARM embeddded processors, among others.

Power6 was running at speeds faster than the fastest Pentiums and Core processors, which is why I never saw much reason to get excited about the liquid nitrogen exploits of Intel overclockers.

Imagine what could be if IBM could be persuaded to whip out an x86-64 workalike…



Server room

The picture is of a Sun stack, but there are rooms full of IBM servers that look quite like what is in this pic. They pack tons of power in a relatively small space. The newest z196 will probably look like a PC in comparison.

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