IBM has announced what it claims is the world's fastest microprocessor chip. The z196 is an enterprise grade quad-core part that boasts 1.4 billion transistors on a 512-square millimeter surface and can handle 50 billion instructions per second. Clocked at 5.2GHz, we're sure many hardcore overclockers have seen their own chips operate at similar or even higher speeds, but IBM's new chip doesn't require any complicated cooling to achieve this.

The chip was manufactured using IBM's 45 nanometer SOI processor and embedded DRAM (eDRAM) technology. It is expected to power the latest iteration of IBM's mainframe, the zEnterprise 196, in which the company has invested $1.5 billion in research and development over the past three years. The IBM zEnterprise System offers 60% more capacity than its predecessor, the System z10, and can process roughly 17,000 times more instructions than IBM's Model 91 from 1970.

As Engadget notes, Fujitsu's Venus CPU is said to handle a staggering 128 billion calculations per second. That chip won't be ready for supercomputers in a while, though, whereas IBM's z196 will ship to mainframe customers starting on September 10.