There are few, if any, microprocessor manufacturers equal to Intel. IBM, however, is a very large exception.
By the time Intel had introduced its latest processor for servers, the Itanium 9300, on Monday, IBM had already stolen Intel's thunder with its new Power7 chip technology, announced earlier in the morning.
And rightfully so: the Power7 is impressive. It has eight cores, while Intel's Itanium 9300 (PDF) has four. And each of the Power7's cores is capable of four threads, or tasks, compared to Itanium's two per core.
Although both companies are touting dozens of other features--for example, better thread performance and improved scaling of workloads--IBM is taking a lead in marquee features for the lucrative high-end server market.
"While Intel is talking about a 2x [two-times] performance boost per chip, IBM is talking about almost an 8x [eight-times]," said Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst at Insight64. "IBM has gone from two cores to eight cores per (chip). And each of the cores is roughly twice as fast as the [prior-generation] Power6," according to Brookwood, adding that IBM was already ahead of Intel to begin with.
"Buyers who are sitting on the fence and have an application that could go either way (Itanium or Power7), may find that the Power7 offers a more attractive platform," Brookwood said, acknowledging that Itanium or Intel's upcoming eight-core Nehalem-EX processor would be a good choice for those seeking to use popular applications such as SQL Server that run on Windows and are not supported on the Power7.
IBM Blue Waters supercomputer Power7 has another leg up on Itanium: it is already being used to construct what may be the fastest supercomputer in the world at the renowned… Read more