Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Enhancing the power in IBM’s IBM i and Power Systems!

By Bill Moran and Rich Ptak

IBM’s Power System and IBM i announcements promise to continue a history of strong success. Last year, IBM refreshed the high end of the Power Systems family with POWER7+ technology, which provides a significant clock speed increase and 2.5x boost to the L3 cache size. IBM is now spreading this technology across the rest of the Power family including the Power 710-750, a new Power 760 and a new PureApplication[1] System that leverages POWER7+ to deliver enhanced performance and increased throughput. Watson, built on the POWER architecture, transitions from Jeopardy champion to working professional with the IBM Watson Solution Edition for Healthcare. IBM offerings increase the market visibility and awareness of are some of the details.

A new Power 760 is IBM’s new model for the product line positioned above the midrange Power 750, which has also been refreshed with POWER7+ processors. The 760 is a four socket system with up to 48 cores versus the 750’s maximum of 32 cores. Three key differences: 1) the 760 is only IBM installed versus the customer set-up 750 and, 2) the Power 760 supports up to 2TB of memory, and 3) the 760 has a Processor Capacity-Upgrade-on-Demand capability not available for the 750.

IBM uses the SAP benchmark to show how 760 with 48 cores dominates x86-based 4 socket systems with 40 cores. It supports 25K SAP SD users as opposed to around14K supported users with HP, Cisco, and IBM Intel systems. (Yes, IBM compared its Power offering to its own Intel processor-based System x.) In fact, the 760 with 48 cores noses out HP’s current x86 machine with 80 cores. Impressive results that incidentally demonstrate the industry’s move away from the more expensive TPC-C benchmarks.

The entry systems, single-socket 710 and 720 and two-socket 730 and 740, have also been refreshed with POWER7+ processors and increased memory. The big news is IBM is now offering entry server configurations that sell at the same price point as the Intel competition while delivering the greater performance of the Power platform. IBM’s 16-core Power 730 compares to a 16 core HP ProLiant DL380p x86 with an identical list price of $11,033. However, the IBM system delivers far more power with up to 23% higher SPECint rate.

IBM i for Power Systems has also been refreshed with support for USB attached flash drives and improved performance and extended SQL capabilities for the integrated DB2 for i database. IBM Systems Director adds new error detection and reporting functions. Also new is support for mobility app development and running. Finally, there is a major enhancement to Virtualization. IBM i 6.1 will run a partition with IBM i 7.1. This greatly eases migration testing. Also, IBM i 7.1 can run IBM i 6.1 partitions. This permits necessary production runs which require the old release to continue.

The Pure Application System now features a POWER7+ processor-based model, the W1700. It can deploy a 3 tier web application in under 11 minutes. It has four distinct configurations with a single part number, Power VM, AIX, IBM WebSphere Application Server Hypervisor Edition & DB2 Enterprise Edition. It includes a number of best practice patterns including IBM Web Application, IBM Transactional Database, etc.

Finally, IBM PowerLinux is enhanced; two Linux servers, 7R2 /7R1, use the POWER7+ technology. These are Linux-only systems, priced to be comparable with x86 systems and with the systems software priced to be comparable with Intel versions.

The Power Systems and IBM i platform are doing well. With the above added to the market success of PowerLinux and AIX, IBM Power systems continue on the path to success.

[1] See “IBM PureSystems: Just keep getting better!” at for more information about new PureSystems