IBM Powers Up Dual Core

IBM is getting into the dual-core processing game, with the announcement of its new PowerPC 970MP chip, the dual-core version of the PowerPC 970FX.

Code-named Antares, the 970MP yields more than double the performance of its
predecessor and is designed for customers who require 64-bit
symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) in a small, entry-level
embedded system ranging from 1.4 to 2.5 gigahertz.

IBM officials announced the chip at an event in Tokyo last week. IBM would
not say if Apple, which uses the 970FX in its Macintosh computers running G5
chips, has been testing the PowerPC 970MP after a recent pledge to work with
Intel over IBM.

IBM said in a statement each of the two 64-bit PowerPC 970MP sockets, or
cores, has its own dedicated 1 megabyte L2
cache, making it much more powerful than the 970FX. Double cache also means
customers benefit from a range of operating points that can be matched to
system processing needs.

In true dual-core fashion, the PowerPC 970MP is designed to conserve energy
despite its higher performance levels.

The frequency and voltage of both sockets can also scale downward to
reduce the power during periods of reduced workload. Each socket can be
placed in a state called “doze.” This utility saves power while the other core
continues running. Also, one of the cores can be shut down during periods of
less traffic.

Dual core chips have been popular in 2005 since AMD and Intel began trotting
out their offerings for PCs, servers, workstations and other devices. The
idea behind dual-core technology is that it provides tremendous performance
increases while only consuming the power of a single-socket processor.

As a testament to the ability to make money from products with the nascent
chip technology, Dell announced the PowerEdge SC430 server as the first machine to use the technology.

Meanwhile, Big Blue also unveiled new low-power extensions to its PowerPC
970FX, targeted for customers using embedded applications for imaging and

This is targeted for customers who require a 64-bit processor with a sub-20
watt power envelope and SMP. The new offering can operate at 13 watts at 1.4
GHz and 16 watts at 1.6 GHz.

In related news, IBM announced that three additional companies have agreed
to join the development community: Denali Software; HCL
Technologies Ltd.; and Xilinx.

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