I’m in charge of competitive benchmarking for IBM Corp’s Power Personal Systems Division so I either measured or had measured all of the performance numbers to date on the Power Series machines as well as the RS/6000 43P. I’d like to clarify a few of the points you addressed and emphasise a few others. In […]
I’m in charge of competitive benchmarking for IBM Corp’s Power Personal Systems Division so I either measured or had measured all of the performance numbers to date on the Power Series machines as well as the RS/6000 43P. I’d like to clarify a few of the points you addressed and emphasise a few others. In short, while our SPEC story is very impressive in terms of price-performance, the PowerPC performance advantage truly comes out when you look at real applications running on our machines under personal computer-space operating systems like Windows NT. Let me try to put the SPECint issue to rest: the 43P delivers 176.4 SPECint in a configuration – 133MHz 604, 32Mb memory, 512Kb L2 cache – that costs about $7,000, an excellent price-performance story. In announcing the availability of the 604 processor at 133MHz the Microelectronics Division supplied the 200 SPECint figure as an estimate of maximum chip performance. The division is in the process of building a hot box with larger L2 cache, and larger and faster memory to deliver this figure, in the same way Intel Corp used an expensive system with 1Mb L2 cache, 64Mb memory, and a separate disk controller with its own 4Mb cache to achieve the 155.5 SPECint announced for the 133MHz Pentium.
Where it gets sticky is that the high volume Intel machines from the likes of Dell Computer Corp, Gateway 2000 Inc or Micron Computer Corp don’t play in the workstation market so nobody has disclosed a SPEC92 figure on one of these machines. Our machines do play in that market so we measure and disclose SPEC92 numbers that come within 12% of the maxmimum chip performance. I’d be surprised if the typical high volume Intel machine could come this close to Intel’s hot box figure. SPEC is an important benchmark for the workstation space but what most end users care about is application performance. In our Austin lab we run our Power Series machines side-by-side with best-of-breed Pentium machines running at the same clock speed and bench them using applications under Windows NT (we’ll start benching OS/2 Warp Connect PowerPC Edition this summer). For new, 32-bit programs that were designed from the ground up to take advantage of the new processors (that use the floating point unit, say) we are seeing two times, or greater, performance on the Power Series machines versus Pentium machines at the same clock speed. We have seen this on both computer-aided design applications and business applications. For older code like the current 32-bit versions of Microsoft Word and Excel, which are based heavily on the 16-bit Intel versions and don’t make effective use of the floating point unit, our performance advantage is less pronounced. The slowness of 16-bit applications converted to 32-bit is not particular to PowerPC. As Jim Seymour pointed out in July’s PC Magazine, it will take a while before the software vendors fully use the 32-bit power. Your readers can check out our performance brief in IBM’s Web site (http:/www.austin.ibm.com/pps/p4be1.htm#deskdesc) or on CompuServe (GO: POWERPC).