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IBM intros new generation of IBM Power servers

News Analysis
Sep 08, 20213 mins
Data CenterServers

The last Unix vendor left promises 2.5x greater per core performance vs x86-based servers.

IBM Power10 in socket
Credit: IBM

IBM is keeping the faith for Unix just like it is for mainframes. It has announced a new Unix-based server, the IBM Power E1080, the first in a family that is based on the POWER10 processor.

IBM announced the POWER10 processor last year. Designed on a 7nm process, it is expected to deliver up to a three-fold improvement in capacity and processor energy efficiency within the same power envelope as IBM POWER9.

It features a new technology called Memory Inception that supports multi-petabyte memory clusters for massive memory-intensive workloads along with end-to-end memory encryption with quadruple the number of AES encryption engines per core compared to IBM POWER9.

It is built for AI, with a new processor core architecture providing 10x, 15x and 20x faster AI inference for FP32, BFloat16, and INT8 calculations per socket, respectively.

Like the mainframe, IBM’s POWER servers aren’t setting the world on fire when it comes to sales, but they play a big mission-critical role where they are used.

“In 2020, the IBM Power Systems share of the worldwide server market in terms of vendor revenue was about 2%, which needs to be understood in the context of a high-end product in a mass market. For the sake of comparison, it is about the same as BMW’s share in the worldwide automotive market,” said Peter Rutten, research director, performance intensive computing at IDC.

IBM doesn’t update the POWER line as frequently as Intel does the Xeon, but it makes up for it with big jumps in performance. It claims the Power E1080 server can deliver up to 30% more performance per core and over 50% better total capacity at the socket and system level compared to the previous generation IBM Power E980 server.

This translates to a one-third reduction in energy consumption for the same workload as compared to the IBM Power E980. The company cited an unnamed customer who projected that they could consolidate 126 x86-based servers that ran a transactional database down to two IBM Power E1080 servers, resulting in an 80% reduction in energy use and a 70% reduction in per-core software licenses for the customer.   

The POWER series runs IBM’s brand of Unix, called AIX, but IBM also incorporated Red Hat Linux into the E1080, a first for POWER processors, with four times greater OpenShift containerized throughput per core compared to x86-based servers.

IBM is also making it possible for customers to buy server access as a service from IBM Cloud or they can install them on-premises and pay by the minute to help mitigate the cost, just like every other server vendor is doing.

IBM is taking orders for the E1080 now and will begin shipping at the end of the month.

Andy Patrizio is a freelance journalist based in southern California who has covered the computer industry for 20 years and has built every x86 PC he’s ever owned, laptops not included.

The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of ITworld, Network World, its parent, subsidiary or affiliated companies.

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