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e -server magazine

January 1996: Vol. 11, No. 3

The PowerPC Chip - Under the Covers

By Vaughn Dragland

hen you're talking shop with the "propeller heads" it's good to know a few technical facts and figures to throw around. These days, everyone in the AS/400 community is talking about the PowerPC chip, AS/400's RISC offering. In preparation for Bob Tipton's presentation at the next TUG MOM, here are some useful tidbits about the PowerPC chip, and other new AS/400 announcements.

The processor at the heart of the high-end 530 Advanced Systems and 53S Advanced Servers is the "PowerPC A30 RISC chip set." After months of careful testing, IBM has finally released performance figures for the RISC black boxes. The high end "quad processor", the model 530-2153 has a whopping RAMP-C relative performance of 119.2! (1.67 times the relative performance of the 320-2052 at 71.5). The high-end four-way server model (the 53S-2156) has impressive RP statistics as well, with a Client/Server relative performance of 101.4 (which is 4.3 times the power of the largest CISC Server, the 30S-2412).

As you can see, the dream of the early System/38 pioneers, who knew that the "future systems" architecture had big enough shoulders to go all the way, is unfolding as promised.

So what's next? Real Parallel Processing. Up until now, the "multiprocessor" AS/400 models have used a technique called N-way processing. N-way machines utilize multiple processors clustered together to make a single large system image, where the CPUs share memory and DASD, and a single copy of OS/400 governs all processes.

This year, IBM will unfold two new enhancements to OS/400 that will enable "true" Parallel Processing, in which work is broken down into smaller pieces, and each piece is executed by a separate processor simultaneously, (resulting in quantum gains in processing efficiency). The first is called "DB2 Symmetric Multiprocessing", which allows real time parallel processing of data base queries. The second enhancement is called "DB2 Multisystem", which will allow up to 32 individual AS/400s (each of which can be a multi-processor) to be clustered together to form a giant "logical" parallel system.

This feature will also allow data bases to exceed 16 terabytes (the current limit for a single machine) by linking multiple machines in a mega-cluster. These technologies will rely on the combined power of the 64 bit PowerPC chip set, coupled with the amazing OS/400 V3/R6 operating system.

Fasten your seat belts! The AS/400 ride is about to shift into high gear! T < G

Vaughn Dragland is the Editor of TUG/400 e-server magazine and can be reached at Eclipse Technologies Inc. (416) 622-8789 or by e-mail at dragland@tug.on.ca.