The world of server systems and overclocking seldom meets. Servers are designed from the ground up to be ultra stable and capable of running for months if not years without a reboot, a reboot that takes about five minutes to be fair. Timothy Prickett Morgan, writing for ITJungle thinks differently however. He argues that IBM are missing a trick. The company’s next generation Power 9 processors are still a year away, while Intel, AMD and Qualcomm have fresh new processor series in the channel. In an article entitled ‘Why Not Overclock Power Chips For IBM i?’, he proposes that IBM could take advantage of the high clock frequencies that Power 8 chips are capable of, and produce a range of severs that use advanced cooling and highly-binned, overclocked processors. Sounds a bit mad, but the way he explains it, I think this guy kind of makes sense:
“The point of overclocking is not capacity, as expressed by CPWs on the IBM i platform, but rather reducing latency and cranking through relatively serial work as quickly as possible. Like high frequency traders do. It also results in faster compile times for applications, which is important for programmers but not so much for end users. And, importantly, it is something IBM can get out of the factories and put on the truck to sell between now and next March or April, when the Power9 machines are expected to debut running AIX and IBM i.’
“…the Power E880C – the most capacious machine in the product line – has up to 128 cores that run at 4.35 GHz, up to 160 cores that run at 4.19 GHz, or up to 192 cores that run at 4.02 GHz. Let’s have some fun here. I think that IBM can jack up the clock speed on a Power8 chip to at least 5 GHz without too much sweat, and with water cooling on the processor and memory components, which is done on game PCs and supercomputing nodes these days, it should be able to crank a Power8 chip to somewhere just south of 6 GHz. What would such a machine get anyone?”
Perhaps IBM should be advertising for overclocking positions within the company. If this guys gets his way, they will need a few time served overclockers on the team. Read the full and thought provoking article here on ITJungle.