27 Years of IBM RISC PDF Print E-mail
User Rating: / 3
Written by Eric Kluit   

2 7   Y E A R S   O F   I B M   R I S C

1965 1974 1985 1986 1990 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004
IBM ACS the 801         PowerPC


      RT PC             RS64 RS64 II RS64
RS64 IV        
            SP SP2             SP2
    AIX 5L
  AIX 5L
  1965 IBM ACS
In the 1960's IBM was behind in the scientific area and wanted to design an advanced machine better than the CDC 6800, later called the CDC 7600.
The idea for the ACS (IBM Advanced Computing Systems) design started in 1965 with John Cocke's vision of a scientific supercomputer. This was several years earlier than the RISC work at Berkeley and Stanford Universities. The ACS project (which evolved from "Project Y", that started late 1963) was cancelled in 1968. 
Many of the innovative CPU organization techniques pioneered in ACS were used in the IBM RS/6000.
After ACS, John Cocke carried this understanding of compilers and instruction sets with him to the IBM 801 project. John also greatly influenced the IBM Cheetah and America projects, which were the predecessors to the RS/6000.

A Secret 1960's Supercomputer Project

IBM’s ACS-1 Machine
Technical Description of IBM ACS Project
The A.M. Turing Award
1987: John Cocke for significant contributions in the design and theory of compilers, the architecture of large systems and the development of reduced instruction set computers (RISC); for discovering and systematizing many fundamental transformations now used in optimizing compilers including reduction of operator strength, elimination of common subexpressions, register allocation, constant propagation, and dead code elimination. 

1974 the 801
IBM Reduced Instruction Set Computer (RISC) technology originated in 1974 in a project at the Thomas J. Watson Research Center to design a large telephone-switching network. The computer needed was named the 801 (after Building 801, where the research was taking place). The goal of the 801 was to execute one instruction per cycle. The experimental 801 was never build, but the design, mostly developed by IBM researcher John Cocke, seemed to be an good basis for a general-purpose, high-performance miniprocessor.
The evolution of RISC technology at IBM

1985 America
Based on the experimental design of the 801 and ACS ideas the development laboratory in Austin completed a first prototype, where it evolved into the superscalar (Instructions are handled paralel) RISC System/6000 (RS/6000) processor that was introduced into the market in 1990. Development work had been done under code name "America" for the RISC chip research, and "RIOS" for systems using the America technology.

1985 America

Based on the experimental design of the 801 and ACS ideas the development laboratory in Austin completed a first prototype, where it evolved into the superscalar (Instructions are handled paralel) RISC System/6000 (RS/6000) processor that was introduced into the market in 1990. Development work had been done under code name "America" for the RISC chip research, and "RIOS" for systems using the America technology.

1986 RT PC

The IBM RT PC is IBM's first RISC based UNIX (Advanced Interactive Executive [AIX]) computer with 32 bits ROMP processor (without floating point capability ...) that was first announced by IBM in January 1986. The IBM RT has had a varied life from its initial announcement. The RT was considered as "not enough power, too high a price, and too late" and thought to be part of IBM's Personal Computer line ... (hence RT PC, later renamed to RT).

6150 RT PC Models 020, 025, and A25 IBM 6151 RT PC model 010

FAQ for AIX V2.2.1 on IBM RT systems 1 2 3 4

1986 Advanced Interactive Executive

AIX for the RT PC is announced. The RT used the Virtual Resource Manager (VRM) that provided a virtual machine environment for the kernel, allowing more than one operating system to execute. AIX was based on INTERACTIVE Systems Corporation's IN/ix (the first commercial Unix).

IBM RT Personal Computer System Overview

The IBM RT PC Advanced Interactive Executive (AIX) Operating System
RT PC AIX and Virtual Resource Manager
RT PC AIX Version 2.1

1987 AIX (PS/2)
IBM will provide the PS/2 AIX Operating System as a subset of the multiuser, multitasking, virtual memory AIX operating system currently available on the IBM RT PC.

PS/2 AIX Statement of Direction
Availability of PS/2 AIX delayed ...

1990 POWER
RISC System/6000 7012-32H (1991) - thank you Stefan Tibus!Februari 1990 IBM announces its new RISC-based computer line, the RISC System/6000 (later named RS/6000, nowadays eServer pSeries), running AIX Version 3. The architecture of the systems is given the name POWER (now commonly referred to as POWER1), standing for Performance Optimization With Enhanced RISC. They where based on a multiple chip implementation of the 32-bit POWER architecture. The models introduced included an 8 KB instruction cache (I-cache) and either a 32 KB or 64 KB data cache (D-cache). They had a single floating-point unit capable of issuing one compound floating-point multiply-add (FMA) operation each cycle, with a latency of only two cycles and optimized 3-D graphics capabilities.
The model 7013-540 (30 MHz) processed 30 million instructions per second. Its electronic logic circuitry had up to 800,000 transistors per silicon chip. The maximum memory size was 256 Mbytes and its internal disk storage capacity was 2.5 GBytes.
RISC System/6000 POWERstation/POWERserver 320
RISC System/6000 POWERstations/POWERservers 520 AND 530
RISC System/6000 POWERserver 540

RISC System/6000 POWERstation 730

RISC System/6000 POWERserver 930

AIX Version 3
AIX Version 3 is announced.
AIX Version 3 (Februari, 1990)
Overview: IBM RISC System/6000 and related announcements

With the alliance of Apple and Motorola, IBM started a plan for the future that would span a range from the small, battery-operated computer to very large supercomputers and mainframes, resulting in the PowerPC family of microprocessors, a single-chip implementation for RISC-based hardware and software.
Understanding IBM pSeries Performance and Sizing

1992 RSC
January of 1992, the model 7011-220 (33 MHz) , an entry-level desktop workstation, was announced, based on a single chip implementation of the POWER architecture, usually referred to as RISC Single Chip (RSC). I recall we used to say "the pizza box".
RISC System/6000 POWERstation/POWERserver 220, 22W AND 22G

AIX PS/2 Version 1.3
Announcement of AIX PS/2 Operating System Version 1.3 for IBM PS/2.
AIX PS/2 Operating System V1.3 (September 1992)
Withdrawal: IBM AIX PS/2 Operating  System 1.3 (December 1994)

1993 SP
The IBM Scalable POWERparallel Systems (SP, now commonly referred to as SP1) offer a scalable platform for both serial and parallel applications. Based on RISC System/6000 technology, the basic component of the in Februari 1993 announced 9076 SP1 is a system frame containing eight to 16 RISC System/6000 processor nodes (max. four frames, 64 nodes).
The SP implements Massively Parallel Processing (MPP). All the processing nodes have their own resources (processors, memory, disks and operating system): the shared nothing architecture.

AIX Parallel Environment
SP  models 001, 002, 003, 004, A01, AND 101
More SP models
2001 SP Overview

PowerPC 601
The RISC System/6000 model 7011-250 (66 MHz) workstation, the first to be based on the 32-bit PowerPC 601 processor, was introduced in September 1993. 
The 601 was the first processor arising out of a partnership between IBM, Motorola, and Apple. From IBM, the RISC Single Chip (RSC) microprocessor became the base design for 601. The superscalar machine organization of the 601 was improved to achieve greater performance and additional custom circuit design was applied to reduce the die size and to allow higher frequency operation. The Motorola 88110 microprocessor bus interface formed the basis of the development of the 601 bus interface.
The 601 did not implement the full PowerPC instruction set (some infrequently used instruction where excluded) and some new instructions and features were added, such as support for symmetric multiprocessor (SMP) systems. The 601 is capable of dispatching, executing, and completing up to 3 instructions per cycle. Instructions issue to multiple execution units (an integer unit, a branch processing unit, and a floating-point unit), execute in parallel, and can complete out of order.
An SMP has multiple processors that have their own cache, the memory and devices are shared. 
The 601 was a bridge from POWER to the full PowerPC architecture, such as the 603, 604, and 604e. 
POWERstation/POWERserver 250 Series

The model 7013-590 (66 MHz) was announced in September 1993 and was the first RS/6000 based on the 32-bit POWER2 architecture. The most significant improvement introduced with the POWER2 architecture for scientific and technical applications is that the floating-point unit (FPU) contains two 64-bit execution units, so that two floating-point multiply-add instructions may be executed each cycle. A second fixed-point execution unit is also provided. In addition, several new hardware instructions were introduced with POWER2: quad-word storage instructions, hardware square root instruction and floating-point to integer conversion instructions. 
Initial models: 7013-58H (55 MHz), 7013-590 (66 MHz), 7015-990 (71.5 MHz).
POWER2 and PowerPC architecture

AIX Version 3.2.5
AIX V3.2.5 is announced: Maturity (stability, quality).
AIX Version 3.2.5 (September, 1993)

1994 Notebook
The RS/6000 7007-N40 (50 MHz) notebook workstation (introduced in March) is the ideal portable companion for mobile professionals who want to take AIX on the road. Based on the PowerPC 601.
7007-N40 IBM RS/6000 Model N40

The Scalable POWERparallel Systems 2 (SP2) was announced in April 1994. Based on IBM's RISC System/6000 microprocessor technology and running AIX/6000 (as it was named then), the SP2 could scale from two to 128 nodes (processing elements). Using a POWER2 processor and other options it performed twice the processing power of the SP1 system.
Scalable POWERparallel Systems 9076 SP2 and Enhancements for SP1
Scalable Parallel Computing

9076-xxx SP Family

AIX Version 4.1
AIX Version 4.1 is announced: Scalability (PowerPC support, 4-way SMP, Client/Server pkg), new Standards compliance, Simplicity (graphical, fast installation, Common Desktop Environment), HACMP Clustering.
AIX Version 4.1
(July, 1994)
AIX Version 4 Overview and Product Life Cycle Dates
AIX Version 4.2 Overview and Product Life Cycle Dates

AIX Version 4.3 Overview and Product Life Cycle Dates

1995 PowerPC 604
32-bit PowerPC 604 RISC System/6000 microprocessor (120 MHz) upgrade announced for the RISC System/6000 model 7020-40P (66 MHz).
Motorola/IBM PowerPC 604/604e

Windows NT PowerPC Edition
Announcement of Windows NT Workstation 3.51 for RS/6000 40P, 43P and with NT 4.0 (1996) other models. 
Hmmm ... I'm not going to try it on my 43P ...
Windows NT Workstation 3.51 Now Supports IBM Power Series
Windows NT Support for PowerPC Computers

1996 POWER2 Super Chip
October 1996 the RS/6000 model 7013-595 (135 MHz) was announced with the new 32-bit POWER2 Super Chip (also known as P2SC). The P2SC is a single chip implementation of the POWER2 eight-chip architecture, containing 15 million transistors on a single chip using high-density CMOS-6S technology. It powered the wide and thin nodes in SP systems.
SP POWER2 Super Chip Nodes

In October (?) IBM renames RISC System/6000: RS/6000.

PowerPC 603e
October 1996, announcement of the portable workstation RS/6000 model 860 (166 MHz) - notebook - using the 32-bit PowerPC 603e processor.

PowerPC 604e
The 43P models 140 and 240 with 32-bit PowerPC 604e RS/6000 microprocessor (166 MHz) are announced. The 604e is a superscalar processor capable of issuing four instructions simultaneously. As many as seven instructions can finish execution in parallel.
PowerPC 604e Technical Library

Windows NT for the PowerPC withdrawn

AIX Version 4.2
AIX Version 4.2 is announced: High-end scalability ( 8-way SMP,  >2GB memory),  Standards: UNIX95 brand, RAS Enhancements, NFS V3.
AIX Version 4.2 (April 23)

1997 RS64
The RS64 (also known as Apache) is the first 64-bit PowerPC RISC processor (October 1997). The RS64 is a superscalar processor optimized for commercial workloads. The processor has separate 64 KB L1 cache for instructions and data and L2 cache controllers. The L2 caches run at full processor speed. The RS64 contains a 16 byte interface to 2-way set associative 4MB L2 cache. The RS64 is also used in the AS/400 (called A35). Predecessors of the A35, only running OS/400 are the A10 (a.k.a. Cobra), the world's first 64-bit PowerPC microprocessor, and A25 (a.k.a. Muskie).
IBM brings 64-bit technology to the market introducing the RS/6000 Enterprise Server model 7017-S70 (125 MHz, code named Raven), the first 12-way SMP system, and AIX Version 4.3.
RS/6000 Enterprise Server Model S70 Blazes the 64-Bit Trail

AIX Version 4.3
AIX Version 4.3 is announced: Higher levels of scalability (24-way SMP, 96 GB memory), 32/64-bit API support, UNIX98 Branding, Networking/Security (TCP/IP V6, IPsec), Web System Management,  AIX Workload Manager, Java JDT/JIT, 32-bit/64-bit application coexistence and concurrent execution (the kernel is still 32 bits).
AIX Version 4.3
(October 1997)
AIX Version 4.3.1 (April 1998)
AIX Version 4.3.2 (October 1998)

1998 RS64 II
PowerPC RS64 II 64-bit RISC microprocessor (also know as NorthStar) is the first in the Star series processor family.
The in July 1998 announced RS64-II contains a dedicated 32 byte interface to a private 4-way set associative 8MB L2 cache. The processor target operating frequency is 262 MHz. The 262 MHz cards contain four processors per card. Up to three 4-way cards can be installed in a RS/6000 7017-S70 to create a 4-way, 8-way, or 12-way system.

New Processors Enhance the IBM RS/6000 Model S70 Performance

The new 64-bit POWER3 processor, announced October 1998, unifies the POWER2 architecture (P2SC) with the PowerPC architecture, and was optimized for technical applications.
The SMP-capable POWER3 design allows for concurrent operation of fixed-point instructions, load/store instructions, branch instructions, and floating-point instructions. The POWER3 is capable of executing up to four floating-point operations per cycle (two multiply-add instructions). Integer performance has been significantly enhanced over the P2SC with the addition of dedicated integer and load/store execution units. The chip features eight execution units fed by a 6.4 gigabyte-per-second memory subsystem. The core includes two high-bandwidth buses: a 128-bit 6XX architecture bus to main memory and 256-bit bus to the L2 cache that runs at processor speed. The POWER3 also has on-chip 64KB data cache and a 32KB instruction cache.
IBM's first 64-bit symmetric multiprocessor (SMP) workstation is the POWER3 based RS/6000 43P 7043-260 (200 MHz).
RS/6000 43P 7043 Model 260
The POWER3 Microarchitecture
Overview of Recent Supercomputers
History of POWER processors
Characterization of Web Server Workloads on Three Generations of IBM PowerPC Microarchitectures

1999 RS64 III
PowerPC RS64 III 64-bit RISC microprocessor (also known as Pulsar) using copper technology. The RS64 III microprocessor powers the in September 1999 announced RS/6000 model 7017-S80 (450 MHz). The frequency of 450 MHz was accomplished by using IBM's new copper technology (CMOS 7S). The RS64 III has 8 MB of Level 2 (L2) cache per processor. The 6-way SMP can be expanded to a 24-way SMP and the system memory can be expanded to 96 GB.
Custom circuit design as a driver of microprocessor performance

AIX Version 4.3.3
AIX Version 4.3.3 is announced.
AIX Version 4.3.x Overview and Product Life Cycle Dates
AIX Version 4.3.3 UNIX Operating System ( September 1999)

2000 POWER3-II
44P model 270The 64-bit POWER3-II microprocessor design is based on IBM's advanced CMOS 7S process, which
is a re-implementation of POWER3 using copper interconnects.
New RS/6000 model 44P 7044-270 (375 MHz) using the 1-4 way SMP with POWER3-II copper-based microprocessor.
The POWER3-III didn't surface, so POWER4 is the next ...
Power3-II 375/450 MHz Processors
RS/6000 44P 7044 Model 270
Why copper?
Back to the Future: Copper Comes of Age
The use copper "wiring" for integrated circuits in 1997 was a breakthrough in semiconductor technology (smaller, faster, more powerful and less costly). The first copper chip was a PowerPC for Apple iMac systems (September 1998).

eServer pSeries
IpSeries 680n October IBM renames RS/6000: eServer pSeries.
IBM introduces servers for the next generation of e-business
A Server By Any Other Name

PowerPC RS64 IV 64-bit RISC microprocessor (also known as Sstar) using copper and SOI technology.
The in October 2000 announced pSeries 680 (600 MHz) a is 6- to 24-way 64-bit SMP server with up to 96GB of system memory and 16MB L2 cache for each 600 MHz processor.

A multithreaded PowerPC processor for commercial servers

AIX 5L Version 5.0
The initial release of AIX 5L was not generally available. It was an Early Adopter Release for OEM's and application developers to begin development of true 64-bit applications for a 64-bit AIX kernel.

Silicon-on-insulator ( SOI) technology improves performance over bulk CMOS technology by up to 35% and reduces  power requirements by up to 66%. SOI refers to placing a thin layer of silicon on top of an insulator such as silicon oxide or glass. The transistors would then be built on top of this thin layer of SOI. The basic idea is that the SOI layer will reduce the capacitance (the ability of a structure to store electrical charge) of the switch, so it will operate faster. SOI protects the millions transistors on a chip with a blanket of insulation, reducing harmful electrical effects that consume energy and hinder performance. The first SOI/copper-based chip was shipped in May 1999 (a PowerPC processor used in new AS/400 models).

The POWER4 "Gigaprocessor" copper SOI 64-bit CMP microprocessor is based on all earlier designs. 
174-million-transistor POWER4 chip, with two 1.1/1.3 GHz five-issue superscalar microprocessor cores, a triple-level cache hierarchy, up to 256 GB memory, a 10-Gbyte/s main-memory interface, and a 45-Gbyte/s multiprocessor interface. The POWER4 is a CMP chip, which means that it incorporates multiple processors on a single piece of silicon.
AIX 4.3.3 is not supported on Power4.
IBM Journal of R & D - Vol. 46, No. 1, 2002 - IBM POWER4 System

pSeries 690 System Handbook

p690 -- a collection of white papers
p690 puts SPECjbb2000 leadership to rest
POWER4 System Microarchitecture

eSever pSeries 690 Announcement
pSeries 690: Virtual Tour
IBM POWER4 microprocessor focuses on memory bandwidth (PDF)
IBM Project Regatta

Logical Partitioning (LPAR)

IBM Research
VLSI Microprocessors
Linux and AIX link up on IBM's biggest Unix server
Silicon-on-insulator (SOI) and Copper Technology
VARBusiness: IBM’s p690 Server: Less Is More
The in October introduced 8- to 32-way 64 bit SMP server 7040-681 (type model, which is not logical ...) pSeries 690 (code-named Regatta H) is the first server to use the POWER4 dual processor on a chip, and is the first model in the Regatta family). Advanced MultiChip Module (MCM) packaging places up to eight POWER4 processors onto a package that fits in the palm of a hand (8.5x8.5 cm).
This new class of pSeries is the first UNIX Datacenter system, utilizing mainframe-inspired self management capabilities (eLiza). Integrated static Logical Partitioning (LPAR) support for up to 16 AIX 5L or Linux partitions.

AIX 5L Version 5.1
AIX 5L Version 5.1 is announced in April: Higher levels of scalability (POWER4 Support, 32-way SMP, 256GB memory, full 64bit kernel and device drivers, Logical Partitioning), Advanced RAS, Networking enhancements, Java 2 Version1.3, Linux Application Support (Linux affinity). AIX 5.1 also supports 32-bit POWER architecture and Intel Itanium (on a limited basis) architecture.
AIX 5L Version 5.1
Monterey - AIX on Itanium ?

Gartner assesses IBM's AIX 5L OS
- Source: ZDNet

SP2 Overview
The RS/6000 SP system hosts dozens to hundreds of RISC processor nodes facilitating parallel processing capability.
The basic SP building block is the processor node. It consists of a POWER3 or PowerPC Symmetric Multiprocessors (SMP), memory, Peripheral Component Interconnect (PCI) expansion slots for Input/Output (I/O) and connectivity, and disk devices. Nodes have either a Symmetric MultiProcessor (SMP) configuration (using PCI) or a uniprocessor configuration (using MCA). The three types of nodes (thin, wide, and high) may be mixed in a system and are housed in short or tall system frames. Depending on the type of nodes used, an SP tall frame can contain up to 16 nodes and an SP short frame can contain up to 8 nodes. These frames can be interconnected to form a system with up to 128 nodes (512 by special order). Each node contains its own copy of the AIX operating system.
RS/6000 SP and Clustered IBM eServer pSeries Systems Handbook
RS/6000 SP Processors
Advanced Computer Technology Center (ACTC)
RS/6000 SP Resource Center
RS/6000 SP Planning Volume 1, Hardware and Physical Environment
The currently used 375 or 450 MHz POWER3 SMP nodes, are powered by the 64-bit 375 or 450 MHz POWER3-II microprocessor. Earlier nodes used POWER1 (62 MHz), POWER2 (66/77 MHz), PowerPC 604 (112/200/332 MHz),  P2SC (120/135/160 MHz) and POWER3 (200/222 MHz). 


2002 POWER4+
The POWER4+ processors (the name POWER4-II circulated before the announcement) are announced in November 2002.
Source: ComputerWire, 21/01/2002

< Prev

IBM Documentation

AIX 5.3  HMC Manuals 
AIX 6.1  POWER7 
AIX 7.1  POWER8 

Legacy PDFs

AIX 5.2
AIX 5.1