Parallelism aficionados likely know of Sun's UltraSPARC T2 processor, which can juggle as many as 64 concurrent threads across its eight cores. But less well known is the fact that IBM developed a chip capable of handling twice as many threads—128 in total.
As The Register reports, the chip was code-named Q7 and was a possible follow-up to today's Power6 processor. "IBM considered Q7 a type of radical take on Power7, since the product centered more on many low-power cores rather than fewer more powerful cores," the site explains. However, IBM reportedly concluded that Q7 couldn't offer the level of performance required by "most of its Unix server customers." Instead, IBM is now hard at work on a Power7 chip that should sport four to eight cores (with each core likely to handle as many as four threads.)
Q7 wasn't shelved altogether, though. The chip supposedly offered 33% better performance than the UltraSPARC T2 in SPECint benchmarks, and The Register says Q7 could find its way into Power7 servers in the form of application-specific accelerators.
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