The guys and gals wearing lab coats over at IBM are jazzed about a new chip technology that integrates electrical and optical devices on the same piece of silicon, paving the way for chips to communicate by sending pulses of light rather than electrical signals. This will ultimately lead to a technological hat trick involving smaller, faster, and more power efficient chips, IBM says.
It's called CMOS Integrated Silicon Nanophotonics, and according to IBM, the new technology represents over a decade of development and could enable over 10X improvement in integration density over what's currently possible with today's manufacturing tricks.
"The development of the Silicon Nanophotonics technology brings the vision of on-chip optical interconnections much closer to reality," said Dr. T.C. Chen, vice president, Science and Technology, IBM Research. "With optical communications embedded into the processor chips, the prospect of building power-efficient computer systems with performance at the Exaflop level is one step closer to reality."
One of the best aspects of this new technology is that it doesn't require a hefty investment into new assembly lines. IBM says it requires no new or special tooling, and is able to be produced on the front-end of a standard CMOS manufacturing line.
The development of PC display technologies over the last 30 years has taken us through many chapters: from IBM, the creator of the IBM PC, pioneering color display technologies (and ceding development to third-parties ATI, 3dfx, and nVidia); to the quest to provide both sharp text and colorful graphics; through the ever-increasing size of displays; to LCD flat panels overtaking TV-type CRTs; the move to 3D graphics rendering and, currently, to 3D viewing. Here's a brief history of these and other milestones in PC graphics history.
Last year, IBM announced that it had built a computer that exceeds the neural capacity of the cortex of a cat.
My first thought on hearing this news was that the world does not need a computer that is snotty, stubborn, and coughs up hairballs on the couch. (I already have a computer like that, including the hairballs—one of these days, I just gotta clean the fan.) But fortunately, that was not IBM’s goal.
That same press release went on to say that IBM eventually wants to build a computer that simulates and emulates the abilities of a human brain for sensation, perception, action, interaction and cognition.
And once they accomplish that, why stop there? If you can build a machine that matches the cortical ability of a human, why not keep going and build a machine that exceeds that by ten times, or a hundred, or as far as you can go before the limitations of the physical universe kick in?
Hewlett-Packard, which recently trumped Dell in a fierce bidding war for data storage company 3PAR, is now said to have cybersecurity firm ArcSight in its sights. According to a Wall Street Journal report, citing anonymous sources, a deal could be announced as early as Monday. The report suggests that the deal could be worth around $1.5 billion, but that is just speculation. The Journal had earlier identified HP, Oracle and IBM as potential suitors for the the Cupertino-based enterprise security management company that boasts more than 1,000 customers around the world.
IBM on Wednesday lifted the curtain on what Big Blue claims is the world's fastest computer chip, the new zEnterprise 196 (z196) processor. Minus 10 million geek points to the first person who asks, "Yes, but can it run Crysis," or any variant.
What it can do is race along at 5.2GHz, the fastest stock clockspeed ever in the world of microprocessors. This server speed demon comes with 1.4 billion transistors packed onto a 512-square millimeter surface and was designed right here in the good ol' U.S. of A. (Poughkeepsie, New York) using IBM's 45nm SOI processor technology. It's a four-core part with embedded DRAM technology, which IBM says allows for dense DRAM caches, or components, on the same chips as high-speed microprocessors.
"This world record-breaking speed is necessary for businesses managing huge workloads, such as banks, retailers, especially as the world becomes increasingly more interconnected, data has grown beyond the world's storage capacity, and business transactions continue to skyrocket," IBM said.
IBM has poured $1.5 billion in research and development and over three years of collaboration with top clients around the world coming up with its zEnterprise technology.
This, in fact, is a revised version of the report. As per the original, Google was the company with the highest percentage of unpatched flaws in H1 2010. However, Google was quick to dispute IBM's claim that it had left 33 percent of critical and high-risk bugs in its software unpatched: “We learned after investigating that the 33% figure referred to a single unpatched vulnerability out of a total of three — and importantly, the one item that was considered unpatched was only mistakenly considered a security vulnerability due to a terminology mix-up. As a result, the true unpatched rate for these high-risk bugs is 0 out of 2, or 0%.”
But this wasn't the lone mistake in the original, which also erroneously rated Oracle-owned Sun as the vendor with the highest percentage of unpatched vulnerabilities in the first half of 2010. But that honor now belongs to Microsoft.
“After we released our trend report this week, we received feedback from two software vendors regarding the severity and remedy information for some of the vulnerabilities behind this chart,” IBM said in a blog post.“As a consequence of this feedback, we have manually reassessed the CVSS scoring, remedy information, and vendor information for every vulnerability that impacted the percentages that appear in this chart.”
IBM recently revealed some details of its new 5.2GHz microprocessor chip, but consumers shouldn't bother saving their pennies to get one. The z196, which will be at the heart of the company's new Z-series mainframes, will be an enterprise-only product. Even if you could convince them to sell you a mainframe, it would likely break the bank at around $1 million.
The z196 is using the CISC instructions set and packs 1.4 billion transistors onto a 512 square mm die. The z196 will have 64 Kbyte L1 instruction cache, 128-Kbyte L1 data cache, and 1.5-Mbyte L2 cache on each core. How many cores are we talking about in one mainframe? Oh, only up to 96 of them, that's all.
These new super-chips will be capable of running multiple operating systems on the mainframe in any combination, including z/OS, z/VM, z/VSE, Linux on System z , and z/TPF. In some ways, IBM is doing us a favor by keeping this chip out of the reach of the common geek. It may be too much computing power for any mere mortal to handle.
For the inevitable comedian who thinks he's being witty by posting a comment asking, "Yes, but can it run Crysis," the answer is, "Yes, it can, so go out and buy a dozen of them." That's wrong, of course, but IBM's latest Power7-based system does have what it takes to top the 10 million transactions per minute mark using the industry standard TPC performance benchmark, IBM says.
With a 10,366,245 tpmC score, IBM lays claim to the highest TPC-C benchmark result using a Power Systems configuration with its DB2 database software. According to IBM, that's more than twice as fast as HP's best result, and 35 percent better than what Oracle was able to achieve.
That's impressive, even if it isn't designed to run Crysis, or any other game for that matter. So who can use these systems?
"Smarter healthcare providers, cities, retailers, smarter energy grids, and financial systems, all require support for ever greater data volumes and transaction throughput," said Arvind Krishna, General Manager, IBM Information Management. "The results of this benchmark demonstrate how IBM innovations combine to deliver unprecedented performance and cost efficiency for data intensive applications. Not only can you scale to massive data volumes and transaction throughput, but you can do so economically in an energy efficient way."
The record breaking benchmark score was achieved using DB2 9.7 with a cluster of three IBM Power 780 servers, each one sporting 8 processors, 64 cores, and 256 threads.
IBM this week announced it has closed the acquisition of BigFix, Inc., a privately-held provider of high-performance enterprise systems and security management solutions.
"IBM is focused on delivering a simplified and automated approach to managing and securing the IT infrastructure," said Steve Robinson, general manager, IBM Security Solutions. "With BigFix software integrated with IBM software offerings, IBM clients will be able to more easily manage and secure their PCs and laptops, a complex task as the costs and risks associated with security threats continue to grow."
IBM said BigFix will be integrated into its Software Group and will help beef up Big Blue's automation portfolio. The closing comes just three weeks after IBM entered a definitive agreement to acquire BigFix. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
IBM on Thursday said its going to throw millions -- as in, $100 million -- into a new research initiative that will have IBM collaborating with clinicians to develop new technologies, scientific advancements, and businesses processes for healthcare and insurance providers.
"Improving the quality of healthcare requires more than just digitizing health data," said Chalapathy Neti, Global Lead, Healthcare Transformation at IBM Research. "In fact the proliferation of diagnostics technology has in many ways added another layer of complexity, making it more difficult to gain valuable insights for patient care. Enabling greater coordination between care providers and transforming data into clinical decision intelligence could improve patient outcomes and help lower costs of healthcare today."
The money will be doled out over the next three years with a focus on three main areas. These will include evidence generation, streamlining the healthcare delivery process to improve service quality, and new incentives and models to reward patient outcomes rather than only treatment and volume of care.