IBM J. Res. Dev

IBM POWER8 circuit design and energy optimization

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The IBM POWER8™ processor is a 649-mm2, 4.2-billion transistor, high-frequency microprocessor fabricated in the IBM 22-nm silicon on insulator (SOI) technology with embedded dynamic random access memory (eDRAM) and 15 layers of metal. With its twelve architecturally enhanced, eight-way multithreaded cores, 96-MB high-bandwidth shared third-level cache, and increased on and off-chip bandwidth, the POWER8 processor delivers industry-leading performance. This paper describes the circuit techniques and design methodologies that were employed for implementing this chip and that allowed it to maintain the power dissipation at the level of its predecessor while delivering a threefold increase in per-socket performance. Among the innovative technologies employed by the processor are resonant clocking, on-chip per-core voltage regulation, and enhanced eDRAM arrays.