The history of IBM’s power processors can be given as a story. In 2011, they were notably used in the Watson supercomputer that outsmarted humans in the game of Jeopardy. By the end of next year, the company is launching Power9 the latest chip in the product line. It is being predicted that is going to stand out for its blazing speed and for the superior technologies that was never seen in chips till the day.
Smarter than the Jeopardy winner
Enriched with the sheer computing power of Power9 chip, the super computers will become virtually unbeatable in Jeopardy because it is an unexceptional situation that a superhuman with an exceptional intelligence come to challenge it. This piece of extreme intelligence has been architecture with up to 24 cores and provides blazing throughput for the fast processing of the complex calculations.
Versatility is the coolest thing about the chip. There is a whole range of connectors that can be attached with it, for example field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), GPUs and ASICs (application-specific integrated circuits). These co-processors help in accelerating computing to perform tasks relating to visual computing, cognitive computing, database as well as hyper scale web serving.
Power9 is for servers, not PCs
IBM is planning to put this super chip in its homegrown server that is projected to be priced more than $6000. It is also being expected that the lower priced Power9 servers will be launched by Chinese and other server makers. It is notable that Chinese manufacturers are already providing a large amount of low-priced x86 servers. For IBM the power chips were mere exclusive by the year of 2013, but at present, it is easily available to partners of Open Power Foundation, which was actually formed by IBM to help proliferate Power chips.
The main object behind all this practice by IBM is to challenge Intel’s x86 that is certainly at dominating position in the server market. By the mid or end of the year 2017, we can witness the Power9 servers in the market. These servers will support versions of Unix and Linux.
Smart technology galore
Because Power9 enriched CPUs will require the support of co-processors for machine learning and the other tasks, so surely they will have a wide range of bus slots to connect many components. Power9 is the first processor with PCI-Express 4.0, providing bandwidth of up to 16 gigatransfers per second, which is twice that of PCI-Express 3.0. It also is the first with NVLink 2.0, which provides the bandwidth of up to 25Gbps for Nvidia’s latest GPUs. The other specifications of Power9 include the all-purpose CAPI 2.0 interface that is specifically developed for chips like ASICs, FAPGs, and some other advanced types of memory, for example, PCM (phase-change memory) that generally does not fit into other slots.
The company also has the plan to license the Power9 architecture to companies that show their interest in having custom chips. So, in the future, you may possess a non-IBM Power chip. But till that, the server makers have to buy and use the IBM’s Power9 chip for their servers. There is a company, Suzhou Powercore Technology is providing Power variants, but there is no clear idea that it is considering about making Power9derivatives.
Open Compute servers also may be available