Tuesday, October 6, 2015

IBM Power Systems LC: buy on-line with faster performance, lower cost than x86 systems!

By Rich Ptak and Bill Moran 

Moore’s law is dead. Don’t remember the law[1]? You should still care because it underlies computer industry progress the last 50 years. Briefly, it states that doubling the number of components on a transistor every two years (or so), doubles performance while shrinking physical size and cost. Unfortunately, thermodynamics and physics mean this approach no longer works.

IBM is replacing the law with one that sees the future fueled by innovation across the total stack of system components, augmented by open systems collaboration. To that end, IBM has announced new IBM Linux servers, the Power Systems LC[2] lineup. It has three new systems designed for data and cognitive workloads, as well as an entry level systems at the lowest price ($6595!) yet available for Power Systems. With technology from OpenPOWER Foundation members, they run workloads faster and cheaper than x86-based systems.

The three new POWER8 Linux severs are the S812LC (entry), S822LC (Commercial computing) and the S822LC (High Performance Computing) designed specifically for clouds and clusters. They deliver performance and price advantages over x86 systems. The S812LC completes a Spark workload with about 2.3 times better performance/dollar-spent as a Xeon E5-2690 v3 System.

In the post-Moore’s law world, improvements will require the collaboration and innovation from multiple companies and institutions. IBM created the OpenPOWER Foundation[3] to encourage such efforts on Power System technology. With open access to the base Power architecture, members can innovate with their own technology and integrate improvements into Power processors.

Here’s how innovation and collaboration with OpenPOWER Foundation members delivers performance improvements. CAPI[4], a standard feature of POWER8, allows direct access to high volumes of data using Flash Memory in a NoSQL environment. Redis Labs[5] managed to reduce the number of POWER8 servers (compared with X86) needed in a 40TB NoSQL case by a factor of 13[6].

In just two years of existence, the Foundation has attracted over 150 member companies and over 35 new products. IBM, Mellanox and NVIDIA collaborated to win a $325 million super computer contract from the US Department of Energy. There are many more documented successes available.

We recommend anyone considering a server purchase evaluate the new Power Systems LC line. For many data intense applications that are run in cluster environments, you may find that these systems deliver value not available elsewhere. For those looking to test their applications before doing on-site proof of concept, a POWER8 developer cloud is available before ordering a system.

IBM recently announced LinuxONE[7] for the mainframe world; now there is the Power Systems LC to make things even more interesting. For more on new capabilities and products view the webcast at:

[1]'s_law describes the law and its history.
[2] Special configurations/pricing available for easy on-line purchasing:
[4] Coherent Accelerator Processor Interface, See CAPI and NoSQL:   
[6] In fact, 80 X86 servers were replaced with 6 Power8 servers.