IBM picks Samsung to manufacture new data centre processor chip

17 Aug 2020

The IBM Power10 chip. Image: IBM

IBM has unveiled its latest processor chip for data centres, which it claims can handle three times the workload of its predecessor.

IBM’s new Power10 processor chip will be manufactured by Samsung Electronics, and will be the first commercialised IBM chip to be built using the South Korean firm’s seven-nanometre manufacturing process.

The chip used to power data centres will be available for purchase in the second half of next year. IBM claimed that it will be three times more powerful than its predecessor in the areas of energy efficiency, workload capacity and container density.

Highlighting the chip’s AI capabilities, the company added that the Power10 will be up to 20 times faster at calculations for inference workloads than before. This will allow enterprises to train AI models faster and deploy them in the field.

The company also promised that the chip will bolster cybersecurity operations for data centres as cyberattacks evolve at a rapid pace. It said users will be able to design applications that are more resistant to attacks with minimal performance loss.

Upscaled cybersecurity

IBM said it included new hardware-enforced container protection and isolation capabilities in Power10’s firmware. If a container were to be compromised, the chip is designed to be able to prevent other containers in the same virtual machine from being affected by the same intrusion.

“Enterprise-grade hybrid clouds require a robust on-premises and off-site architecture inclusive of hardware and co-optimised software. With IBM Power10, we’ve designed the premier processor for enterprise hybrid cloud, delivering the performance and security that clients expect from IBM,” said Stephen Leonard, general manager of IBM’s cognitive systems.

“With our stated goal of making Red Hat OpenShift the default choice for hybrid cloud, IBM Power10 brings hardware-based capacity and security enhancements for containers to the IT infrastructure level.”

IBM’s production partner, Samsung, said earlier this year it was to focus on chip manufacturing in the face of declines in other parts of its business due to Covid-19. The company said that there has been solid demand for PCs, servers and memory chips to support the shift to remote working and the need for online entertainment such as streaming and gaming.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic