Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 26th Aug 2010 23:24 UTC
IBM At the Hot Chips 2010 conference, IBM announced their upcoming z196 CPU, which is really, really fast. How fast? Fastest chip in the world fast. Intended for Z-series mainframe computers, the Z196 has a clock speed of 5.2GHz. Measuring just 512 square millimeters, the Z196 is fabricated on 45nm PD SOI technology, and on its surface contains almost one and a half billion transistors. My... Processor is bigger than yours.
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Are they still stuck in GHz race?
by rom508 on Fri 27th Aug 2010 12:01 UTC
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No matter how fast your processor is, you can only go as fast as the slowest path in your system. In most cases the slowest path is RAM. The case when a faster processor makes a big difference is when your data set can fit entirely in CPU's cache memory. However, as these processors are targeted for large database systems, there will be a lot of access to RAM, hence the super fast 5.2GHz CPU will spend a lot of time just waiting.

I don't know what tricks IBM engineers did to avoid RAM latency, I'm just speculating on the most obvious bottleneck such a system will have. The more you raise CPU speed, the closer you start approaching the point of diminishing returns. The future is parallel processing, and not just instruction level parallelism, but all the way up the stack to operating systems and user applications.

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