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IBM improves PowerPC CPUs' efficiency

Power conservation is 'the new black'

IBM has improved the power efficiency of two models of PowerPC processors, making an effort to strengthen its position in markets from cars and printers to networking and communications equipment.

The PowerPC 750CL and PowerPC 970GX are both single-core chips built with a 90nm (nanometre) process. Both chips reduce DC electricity leakage with thicker gate oxides and reduce AC switching power with higher thresholds, the company said.

IBM made the change to reach a wider range of enterprise and consumer applications, said Ron Martino, director of Power Architecture Solutions in IBM's Technology Collaboration Solutions unit.

The company already has a strong grip on certain sectors. It makes the processors for all three of the top gaming consoles: Sony's PlayStation 3, Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Nintendo's Wii. These improved chips could help it reach even further.

The trend of power-efficient chips has already changed the notebook, desktop and server markets. AMD has cited power efficiency for the reason that its Opteron server processors have outsold chips from Intel in recent months, and Intel says its new Core 2 Duo chips will also use power efficiency to win back that market share.

IBM's move to reduce energy consumption is an effort to keep up with this evolving technology, said Jim Turley, principal analyst with Silicon Insider.

"IBM's new devices are certainly nice but not game-changing," Turley said. "Power conservation is 'the new black' so it's no surprise that IBM has tuned its chips for efficiency. AMD did the same a few years back and it worked spectacularly well for them."


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