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IBM to debut Power6 servers Tuesday

Here comes the Power6, a server chip from IBM that will expand their capabilities, but it's a bit late.

IBM will introduce a new generation of Unix servers Tuesday, the first using its Power6 processors, according to sources familiar with the plan.

Better late than never. In 2004, IBM said the Power6 processor was supposed to ship in 2006.

IBM will likely release only one Power6-based mid-range server in the first half of the year, said sources, and follow with more models in the second half.

Power6 servers can hold more chips than those using the Power5+. Power6 servers can contain 64 chips; Power5+ servers maxed out at 32.

Like Power5 and the newer Power5+, Power6 chips have two processing core engines, and each core can execute two simultaneous instruction sequences called threads. (The Power4, the first dual-core chip for servers, came with two cores, but each core did only one thread.) But Power6 runs at double the clock frequency as Power5+--between 4GHz and 5GHz--and in a high-performance situation can exceed 5GHz, IBM has said.

The Power6 chips also included the AltiVec multimedia extensions used in the PowerPC 970 processor line, which is being phased out. IBM blade servers and Apple computers once relied on PowerPC 970 models, but Apple switched to Intel. IBM will build blades using Power6.