Volume 21, Number 26 -- July 16, 2012

One More Power Systems Roadmap For The Road

Published: July 16, 2012

by Timothy Prickett Morgan

In last week's issue of The Four Hundred, I walked you through some Power processor and systems roadmaps that I was able to find out there on the Intertubes, as well as some specifics about the forthcoming Power7+ processors, which are due to come to market between now and the end of the year. I accidentally left one of the roadmaps I stumbled upon out of last week's story. And it is an important one.

So this week, I will show it to you. Check it out:

For Power Systems shops, the fact that there is Power8 and Power9 on the chart should be comforting. And those dates at the top are nothing but the vaguest of timelines, so don't pin your system purchases and upgrade cycles to them. Obviously, this roadmap was designed for supercomputing customers, with its references to BlueGene/P and BlueGene/Q massively parallel machines and the fat Power 575 and Power 775 nodes. Everybody is trying to get to exascale--meaning the ability to process 1,000 petaflops of number-crunching performance and to store an exabyte of data in the machine's related storage subsystems--by 2020. If not earlier. And this is one of the grandest of grand engineering challenges that humanity has ever faced.

As for the X86 roadmap from Intel, which IBM hints to with its iDataPlex machines, take it with a grain of salt, too, because IBM is not really tying specific Intel products to actual dates. But I can probably get you something that is reasonably close on the back of the cocktail napkin here.

"Sandy Bridge" started out in entry Xeon E3 servers last March and this March and April for Xeon E5 chips midrange machines; best I can figure, there is not going to be a high-end Xeon E7 based on the Sandy Bridge designs. The "Ivy Bridge" Xeon E3s came out this spring again, and we can expect for Xeon E5s and E7s based on these new cores to come out next year. "Haswell" designs for PCs are slated for early this fall for PCs and could appear in servers in early 2013 for entry machines and maybe late in 2013 or early in 2014 for midrange and high-end servers, very generally speaking. The Ivy Bridge and Haswell server chips will be etched using the current 22 nanometer TriGate process that the Core desktop and laptop and Xeon E3 Ivy Bridge chips use.

Beyond that, Intel will move its research fabs to 14 nanometer processes in 2013 and 10 nanometer processes in 2015 if all goes well, and these processes will be rolled into production as quickly as possible. The "Broadwell" chips will be a shrink of the Haswell designs. After that, there is the new "Skylake" microarchitecture implemented in chips known by a similar codename, also in 14 nanometers, and a 10 nanometer shrink known as "Skymount." The server chips lag the desktops by a year, so that should mean Broadwell Xeons for entry servers in late 2013 to early 2014 and for larger Xeons in 2015. Skymount gets Intel to early 2016-ish for entry servers and maybe mid-2017-sh for midrange and higher-end boxes. Those are really just my guesses for the Haswell, Broadwell, Skylake, and Skymount chips and are definitely not actual dates that Intel has announced.

The point is this: Power is going to have plenty of Xeon competition.


Some Insight Into Those Future Power7+ Processors

Q&A With Colin Parris, IBM's Power Systems GM

That Perplexing Power7+ Processor

More Details Emerge on Future Power7+ and Power8 Chips

IBM Is Prepping Power7+ and Pondering Power8

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Editor: Timothy Prickett Morgan
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