On 2007-05-21, IBM launched its first POWER6 server, the IBM System p 570. I am genuinely proud of this achievement, having worked on the POWER6 microprocessor myself. I and the innovative test programs I developed for IBM in 2004 and 2005 made significant pre-silicon bug discoveries, particularly in the core. Customers purchasing the IBM System p 570 will not experience any of those bugs.

In the press release, Bill Zeitler recognized the "relentless innovation" employed in the POWER6 microprocessor design project.

The press release does raise several questions and comments, however:

  • "The processor speed of the POWER6 chip is nearly three times faster than the latest HP Itanium processor that runs HP’s server line."

    On what is that claim based?

  • "SPECfp2006 (measuring floating point-calculating throughput required for scientific applications)"

    SPECfp2006 does not measure throughput. It measures speed.

  • "IBM System p570 1-core (4.7 GHz, 1 chip, 2 cores/chip,1 thread/core) SPECfp2006 result of 22.3"

    SPECfp2006 is a peak metric. What was the base result?

  • All SPEC CFP2006 Results Published by SPEC

    As of 2007-05-23, the results are missing. When will they be published?

  • "In cases where an over-temperature condition is detected, the POWER6 chip can reduce the rate of instruction execution to remain within an acceptable, user-defined temperature envelope."

    Does SPEC CFP2006 stress the system long enough to cause the over-temperature condition to be reached? If not, a real customer workload might, causing actual IBM System p570 performance to be less than that suggested by the benchmark results, relative to competitors' systems that cannot dynamically reduce the rate of instruction execution.