IBM is trumpeting that its latest POWER6 processor-based Unix server is the world's fastest at processing technical and commercial applications. And it's combined this with a sideswipe at HP, saying that its System p 570 benchmark results are significantly better than HP's equivalent servers. HP in contrast focuses more on the wider issue of price-performance and performance-per-watt.

IBM's results were obtained by running benchmarks on single core, four-, eight- and 16-core servers running either Linux or the IBM AIX, said IBM.

IBM reckoned its System p 570 server achieved record-breaking results in the SPECfp_2006 and per core SPECfp_rate2006 benchmarks, which determine the speed and throughput, respectively, of floating point calculations common in scientific applications as well as commercial workloads such as financial trading and product design.

IBM claimed server performance leadership in four sets of benchmarks, including those measuring speed and system throughput. In the SPECfp_2006 benchmark, which measures speed, a single core of a 4.7GHz POWER6 processor in an IBM System p 570 server running SUSE Linux scored 22.4. IBM said this was "the highest result in the industry". IBM claimed that this was 23 percent better than HP's Integrity rx6600 running HP-UX which achieved 18.1.

In the SPECfp_rate2006 benchmark, which measures system throughput, an IBM System p 570 server with two 4.7GHz POWER6 processors (four cores) running the AIX operating system scored 115 versus 51.3 for an HP Proliant DL585 G2 with two 3.0GHz AMD processors (four cores) running SUSE Linux -- a difference of 124 percent, claimed IBM.

In the SPECfp_rate2006 benchmark's eight-core results, an IBM System p 570 server with four 4.7GHz POWER6 processors running AIX scored 213 versus 98.7 for an HP Proliant DL585 G2 with four 3.0GHz AMD Opteron processors running SUSE Linux -- a difference of 115 percent.

And in the SPECfp_rate2006 benchmark's 16-core results, an IBM System p 570 server with eight 4.7GHz POWER6 processors running Linux scored 428 versus 186 for an HP Integrity rx8640 with eight 1.6GHz Itanium 2 processors running HP-UX.

IBM launched the 4U System p 570 in May to showcase its new Power6 chip in configurations at speeds of 3.5, 4.2 or 4.7GHz with up to 16 cores, running either AIX or Linux.

Big Blue targets the server at a number of applications, including database, business processing, application serving and business intelligence workloads, along with server consolidation. Features that, Big Blue reckons, support that claim include its processing power, I/O expandability, and virtualisation technology.

HP doesn't claim that its systems are faster. Instead, it focuses on cost, and performance per watt issues. For example, comparing its systems to IBM's previous-generation Power5-based p5 575, HP said that its Integrity Superdome, delivered 95 percent of the performance of a cluster of 16 IBM systems at a total system cost that was $1.8 million less expensive. "IBM does not have a single-system (non-clustered) TPC-H result in the 10 terabyte database size," said HP.

HP also points out that IBM's Power-based systems don't run Windows. "HP Integrity servers offer much more than a glitzy benchmark result delivered at the cost of many important customer features," said the company.