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Monday, February 08, 2010
IBM Unveils New POWER7 Systems to battle HP, Sun

IBM today announced new POWER7 systems designed to manage demanding emerging applications, ranging from smart electrical grids to real-time analytics for financial markets.

The new systems incorporate a number of new technologies for the specialized demands of new applications and services that rely on processing an enormous number of concurrent transactions and data while analyzing that information in real time.

In addition, the new systems enable clients to manage current applications and services at less cost with technology breakthroughs in virtualization, energy savings, more cost-efficient use of memory, and better price performance.

IBM's new POWER7 systems can deliver four times the performance and four times the virtualization capability for the same price -- and are three to four times more energy efficient, according to IBM. Additionally, the total cost of acquisition and ownership can be better than competitive systems. IBM claims that the new IBM Power 750 Express currently delivers 71 percent better price for performance than Sun SPARC Enterprise T5440 server and more than 280 percent better than Sun SPARC Enterprise M5000 and M4000 servers. And the IBM Power 750 Express delivers more than 400 percent better price for performance than the HP Integrity rx7640 or the rx6600 servers.

IBM announced four new power systems:

- IBM Power 780, a new category of scalable, high-end servers, featuring a modular design with up to 64 POWER7 "cores," or CPUs, and the new TurboCore workload optimizing mode. TurboCore can deliver up to two-times the performance per core of POWER6 processor-based systems.

- IBM Power 770, a modular enterprise system with up to 64 POWER7 cores, featuring higher performance per core than POWER6 processors and using up to 70 percent less energy for the same number of cores as the IBM Power 570.

- IBM Power 755, a high-performance computing cluster node with 32 POWER7 cores, Energy Star qualified for energy efficiency, and optimized for challenging analytic workloads.

- IBM Power 750 Express, an Energy Star qualified business server for mid-market clients offering four times the processing capacity of its predecessor, the IBM Power 550 Express, in the same energy envelope and 10 times the performance of a comparable HP Integrity rx6600, according to IBM. The company also claims that the Power 750 is three times more energy efficient than the Sun SPARC Enterprise T5440.

IBM also released the IBM Systems Director Express, Standard and Enterprise Editions, which offer new and simplified packaging of management software for the new systems and include the advanced virtualization management capabilities of VMControl. VMControl allows a "systems pool" of multiple Power servers to be managed as one entity, which can enable reductions in management cost and complexity.

IBM also increased the parallel processing capabilities of its middleware software, such as WebSphere, DB2, InfoSphere Warehouse and Cognos for managing Internet, data, transactions, and analytics to support POWER7 systems -- with no need for clients or application providers to rewrite existing applications to exploit POWER7 advanced technologies. To manage the demands of emerging applications, and better manage traditional applications, the new POWER7 systems are designed with workload-optimizing technologies, such as:

- Faster cores and more throughput to manage massively parallel transactions: POWER7 systems use more "cores," or CPUs, and add more "threads," or virtual "cores", which are resources that manage computational tasks, per chip: Each new POWER7 processor or "chip" can now run 32 simultaneous tasks ? with eight cores and four threads per core -- quadruple the maximum number of cores of POWER6 systems and eight-times the number of threads per chip as POWER6. IBM Power Systems then automatically engage those cores and threads in various modes depending upon the workload to maximize overall performance.

- TurboCore mode, which is highly optimized for database or other transaction-oriented workloads, does this by running with four cores active and putting most of the resources from all eight cores on the chip behind just the four active cores giving them more cache memory and memory bandwidth, and allowing the clock speed to be increased, driving significant per core performance gains. Select models will support TurboCore mode, such as the Power 780.

- When not in TurboCore mode, all POWER7 processors are in MaxCore mode with up to 8-cores per socket and 4-threads per core ? 32 threads total. With eight times the simultaneous threads executing per "chip", POWER7 is well suited for Internet-based workloads with many tasks coming in simultaneously that benefit from being run in parallel.

- POWER7 technology features "Intelligent Threads" that can dynamically vary based on workload demand. With more threads, POWER7 can deliver more total capacity as more tasks are accomplished in parallel, such as monitoring the energy usage of millions of households by the minute in a smart grid.

- For workloads that require large amounts of memory, or in virtualized environments where more memory is very beneficial, clients can utilize a new POWER7 technology, Active Memory Expansion, a capability that uses memory compression technology to make the physical memory on the system appear to the application as if it were up to twice as large as it actually is. Active Memory Expansion technology dynamically adjusts the amount of compressed memory based on a workload's memory needs, transparently compressing more data to be placed into memory and thus expanding the memory capacity of POWER7 systems. For example, without installing any more physical memory, using Active Memory Expansion, the system can be configured such that an SAP application thinks there is 50 percent more physical memory on the system than is actually installed.IBM estimates up to a 65 percent increase in transactions or users could be handled by the same server previously constrained by memory capacity.

- IBM's POWER7 systems are designed to make better use of energy. Unique Intelligent Energy technology allows customers to power on and off various parts of the system or to dynamically increase or decrease processor clock speeds based on thermal conditions and system utilization, on a single server or across a pool of multiple servers. POWER7 energy management technologies are integrated from its processor, to firmware, PowerVM virtualization, operating system support, and up to IBM Active Energy Manager software, included in the new IBM Systems Director Standard and Enterprise Editions. As a result, the system dynamically balances between energy usage and performance and systems utilization based on policy. The result is improved performance per watt -- more than two-times better than similar Intel x86-based systems, four times better than Sun SPARC servers and eight times better than similar HP Itanium-based servers.

The Power 750 Express and 755 planned volume ship date is February 19 and the Power 770 and 780 planned volume availability is March 16. The IBM Systems Director Editions, supporting both POWER7 and POWER6 models, planned availability is March 5.

IBM's business has increasingly shifted to software and services from hardware over the past decade. However, advanced servers are still a crucial part of its sales strategy as it competes with HP, Sun, and, more recently, Cisco Systems to offer a comprehensive set of technology products.

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