IBM has announced a new p570 Unix server based on the next generation Power6 processor which it claims beats all its competitors in standard benchmarks, while doubling the electrical power efficiency of the previous model, the Power5 processor.

The p570 is the first computer ever to hold all four benchmark speed records, according to product manager Ross Mauri, coming top in transactions, throughput, floating point, and Java. He said one Power6 processor is three times more powerful than IBM's highly parallel, multi-processor (and very expensive) Deep Blue system from 1997.

The p570 accepts modules starting at four cores up to 16 cores, with 48 Gbyte RAM per core, for a maximum of 768 Gbyte.

IBM claimed a number of other firsts at the international launch, held in London, including the fastest-running Unix processor; it comes in 3.5GHz, 4.2GHz and 4.7GHz variants.

According to IBM, the key to the p570's performance is its balanced design of cache and bandwidth. Each 65nm Power6 core has 8 Mbyte of cache, four times that of the Power5. Chip designer and IBM Fellow Brad McCredie said that the chip's power savings were achieved by aggressive power management techniques such as turning off unused elements of the chip, and because the chip runs at 200mV, below most of the competitors. The chip consumes between 100W and 160W, according to Mauri.

IBM stressed the system's suitability for virtualisation, and demonstrated what it calls live partition mobility. This allows you to avoid planned outages so that, for example, you can move a virtualised database server onto a second physical box to perform system maintenance on the original machine and back again, with no interruptions in service.

According to Mauri, you can save up to $100,000 by virtualising 30 Sun Fire V890s running at 20 percent utilisation into the p570 running at 60 percent for savings of 90 percent on floor space, energy, and up to 90 percent per core on software costs.

Other features of the chip include higher levels of integration, such as a high-precision decimal arithmetic processor, which accelerates financial applications.

The system offers complete backwards application compatibility, according to IBM.

IBM also pre-announced AIX v6, which will be available later in 2007 and includes workload partitioning, filesystem encryption for end-to-end security, and application mobility. In July, IBM will provide an open beta for the first time.

The company also launched a range of services around the p570, such as a quarterly health check where an IBM engineer turns up on the customer's premises to compare the system setup against best practices, with the aim of optimising system performance.

The hardware is available in two weeks, although many software-provided features, such as live workload mobility, won't be available until the next revision of AIX in November.