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IBM unveils Power9 Microprocessor

Vendor launches new CPU along with new servers geared for AI

IBM unveils Power9 Microprocessor
The Power9 processors, deliver unprecedented performance.

Tech giant IBM has unveiled its latest microprocessor in conjunction with a new server line that better integrates the new CPU with other embedded devices to power advanced workloads like artificial intelligence (AI).

The new AC922 Servers, along with the Power9 processors, deliver unprecedented performance for computationally intensive tasks like training machine-learning models and advanced analytics, Sumit Gupta, vice president for high performance computing and data analytics at IBM said.

Those servers directly attack the problem that's slowing the advent of AI slow connectivity in the system bus that limits data flow between various chips on the server board.

"The server is going from being just about CPU to becoming a rich server with lots of different devices," Gupta added.

The AC922s release is the vision of the OpenPower Foundation that IBM launched roughly five years ago, he said.

Back then, IBM had the realisation "that the CPU was no longer really delivering the performance needs required for modern workloads," he said, such as data analytics, machine learning and now deep learning.

IBM concluded speeding those tasks wasn't going to take faster microprocessors, but a faster internal bus connecting the various compute acceleration components, like graphics processing units.

"We knew these other devices were going to be critical in the server, networking devices, other processors. We needed to improve the data throughput, how data moved within a server," he said. "That's the answer to Moore's Law slowing."

Those efforts are now bearing fruit, Gupta added, due to massive interest in recent years in artificial intelligence. GPU computing "only recently it hit its stride," he said.

According to Gupta, Power9 is the first PCI-Express chip with fourth-generation capabilities.

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