BBCWatcher writes: This month a new world's fastest microprocessor was revealed at the Hot Chips conference in the final presentation slot, and it's a shocker. IBM starts shipping their z196 servers, and (surprise!) the fastest microprocessor is exclusively inside their latest mainframe. As chip designers slam hard into the physical limits of Moore's Law, get used to a new world of mainframe performance dominance. For decades mainframes have excelled in delivering high throughput for multiple concurrent applications (i.e. cloud computing), but you would have had to look elsewhere (to a supercomputer, to Intel or to IBM's POWER) to find the world's fastest computational performance. Not this time: Mainframe and Supercomputer have combined their DNA. The quad-core z196 CPU design is clocked at a world record 5.2 GHz (with no "burst" cheats), but the clock speed only partly explains why the z196 screams. The z196 has out-of-order execution, a first for IBM mainframes, and insane amounts of cache, including on-chip DRAM, spread across a record number of levels. There are also hardware instructions that accelerate advanced cryptography, precision decimal floating point operations, compression, and other complex tasks. (This is CISC design in all its glory.) Unfortunately the "press" gets a lot of details wrong (ahem, Fox News), but that's sometimes what happens with unexpected technical news.
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