IBM has announced details of its most powerful commercial system ever. The core server of the new zEnterprise System mainframe – called zEnterprise 196 – contains 96 z196 processors, which IBM touts as the world’s fastest, most powerful computer chip. IBM is aiming the system at businesses such as banks and retailers dealing with the skyrocketing amounts of data resulting from the ever increasing amount of business transactions carried out in an increasingly inter-connected business world.

z196 processor

To the mind-boggling numbers. The z196 processor is a four-core chip that contains 1.4 billion transistors on a 512-square millimeter surface. It boasts a clock speed of 5.2GHz and was manufactured using IBM’s 45-nanometer SOI processor technology. It also makes use of IBM’s patented embedded DRAM (eDRAM) technology, which provides improved performance by allowing for the placement of dense DRAM caches, or components, on the same chips as high-speed microprocessors.

zEnterprise System

Packing 96 of these processors into the core server of the zEnterprise System results in the most powerful commercial IBM system ever. It can execute more than 50 billion instructions per second, which is roughly 17,000 times more instructions than the company’s high-end Model 91 could execute in 1970.

The new system features new software to optimize performance of data-heavy workloads, including up to a 60 percent improvement in data-intensive and Java workloads. It also offers 60 percent more capacity than its predecessor, the System z10, and uses about the same amount of electricity.

This energy efficiency is achieved through advances in the microprocessor design, more efficient power conversion and distribution, as well as advanced sensors and cooling control firmware that monitors and makes adjustments based on environmental factors such as temperature, humidity levels and even air density.

IBM will begin shipping the new zEnterprise System mainframe on September 10.