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Thursday, April 24, 2014
IBM Tackles Big Data Challenges with Open Server Model

IBM has today debuted new Power Systems servers that allow data centers to manage staggering data requirements with speed, all built on an open server platform.

In a move that contrasts other chip and server manufacturers' proprietary business models, IBM through the OpenPOWER Foundation, released detailed technical specifications for its POWER8 processor.

Built on IBM's POWER8 technology, the new scale-out IBM Power Systems servers are built from the ground up to harness Big Data with the new IBM POWER8 processor, a sliver of silicon that measures just one square inch, which is embedded with more than 4 billion microscopic transistors and more than 11 miles of high-speed copper wiring.

"This is the first truly disruptive advancement in high-end server technology in decades, with radical technology changes and the full support of an open server ecosystem that will seamlessly lead our clients into this world of massive data volumes and complexity," said Tom Rosamilia, Senior Vice President, IBM Systems and Technology Group. "There no longer is a one-size-fits-all approach to scale out a data center. With our membership in the OpenPOWER Foundation, IBM's POWER8 processor will become a catalyst for emerging applications and an open innovation platform."

IBM's POWER architecture is the heart of the OpenPOWER Foundation, creating a computing platform available to all. The Foundation - representing 25 technology providers - was founded by IBM, Google, NVIDIA, Mellanox and Tyan. The group announced today a roadmap detailing planned contributions from several of its members, with IBM's Power Systems as the first servers to exploit OpenPOWER technology.

Nvidia said its GPUs will be able to act as accelerators in Power servers for the first time. Tyan, a motherboard maker, showed the first reference design for a white-box Power server. Component vendors Mellanox, Xilinx and Altera also disclosed advances around Power chips. Other members include Hitachi and Samsung.

Google is part of the effort, too, and worked with IBM and Canonical to develop open-source tools and firmware for Power systems.

To help address this data deluge, IBM also announced three new Power Systems solutions optimized for the requirements of Big Data and analytics solutions. The new technologies, IBM Solution for BLU Acceleration, IBM Solution for Analytics and IBM Solution for Hadoop, are optimized for IBM?s new Power Systems to deliver quick insights on both structured and unstructured data.

According to IBM test results, the IBM Power Systems are capable of analyzing data 50 times faster than the latest x86-based systems.

IBM also unveiled the availability of Ubuntu Server 14.04 LTS, Ubuntu OpenStack and Juju service orchestration tools, on POWER8 systems; and introduced the PowerKVM, a Power Systems-compatible version of the popular Linux-based virtualization platform KVM, on all POWER8 systems that run Linux exclusively.

IBM's collaboration with Canonical, the commercial sponsor of Ubuntu with more than 20 million users worldwide, provides easy migration for applications to Linux for cloud deployments to deliver Big Data and mobile software applications and to boost the performance of existing applications across cloud platforms. IBM is offering the latest release of Ubuntu Server, Ubuntu OpenStack and Canonical's Juju cloud orchestration tools on the new Power Systems announced today and all future POWER8-based systems.

This complements the existing support by IBM for Red Hat and SUSE Linux operating system distributions on its complete lineup of Power Systems.

The first POWER8-based systems to debut are five Power Systems S-Class servers designed for large, scale-out computing environments. IBM has designed these systems to operate efficiently, guaranteeing the system will perform as warranted while at a sustained 65% utilization. With twice the data throughput compared to an x86-based server, IBM says the new Power Systems can help cut data center footprints in half.

With availability beginning June 10, the new scale-out S Class servers include two systems that run Linux exclusively ? the Power Systems S812L and S822L servers. The three additional offerings, the Power Systems S814, S822 and S824 servers, provide clients the choice of running multiple operating systems including Linux, AIX and IBM i. Available in 1 and 2 socket and 2U and 4U configurations, the starting price of the new servers is $7973 ($200/month for 36 months).

IBM is mimicking the business model used by ARM, which has been successful designing processors for smartphones and tablets and licensing them to other companies for manufacture.

ARM is also gunning for the server market, but it's attacking it from the low end by offering power-efficient cores that aren't very powerful.

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