Follow Us

We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message

IBM puts Power7+ chip in high-end Unix servers

Power7+ is coming first to IBM's Power 770 and 780 systems, and runs at a maximum of 4.4GHz

Article comments

IBM has started to roll out a new processor for its Power family of servers, a staggered affair that will start with higher-end systems and eventually reach the midrange and low-end boxes.

The new Power7+ chip has a higher clock speed than its predecessor, at up to 4.4Ghz, but the biggest change is in the Level 3 on-chip memory cache, which IBM has expanded to a sizeable 80MB, from 32MB on the Power7.

The bigger cache means more of the data being used for calculations - the "working set" - can be stored on the chip close to the CPU cores, which helps to speed operations. With a smaller cache, data has to be fetched more frequently from main memory.

The higher clock speed and larger cache will give a boost in performance for databases and Java applications, according to Satya Sharma , CTO for IBM's Power Systems business and an IBM "fellow," or one of its top engineers. "We can improve performance for some Java applications by up to 40% compared to the Power7," Sharma said.

IBM's top brass are also due to announce a high-end storage system called the DS8870 and an update to IBM's DB2 Analytics Accelerator later today.

IBM Power family

Today Oracle systems chief John Fowler is also due to give a keynote speech at Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco, and HP is holding its financial analyst day, where it's sure to give an update on its systems strategy.

None of the vendors have a lot to cheer about, at least when it comes to Unix: Unix systems revenue dropped 20% in the June quarter, to $2.3 billion, according to recent figures from IDC. But at least IBM's revenue declined only 10%, and it managed to gain 6.1 points of market share, IDC said.

The Power7+ is being offered now for the Power 770 and 780 systems, which sit near the high-end of the Power line-up. It will come eventually to lower-end systems as well, like the 740 and 750, but IBM isn't saying yet when that will be.

IBM's most powerful Unix machine, the Power 795, won't get the new chip at all, Sharma said. Customers that buy such high-end systems generally prefer stability to incremental upgrades, he said, adding that IBM took the same tack when it introduced the Power 6+.

The 795 will get at least one technical boost, however. IBM is introducing a new memory module with twice the density, so the maximum configuration for the 795 increases from 8TB of main memory to 16TB. The 770 and 780 also get the denser DIMMs.

IBM is also introducing a new memory compression accelerator that can "make a 32GB system look like a 48GB or 64GB system," Sharma said. That can help reduce memory costs for customers, but there's a trade-off in increased latency as data is decompressed for use.

With the Power7+, IBM has also doubled the number of virtual machines customers can run on each processor core, to 10 VMs. While customers might not want that many virtual machines for production use, developers can use them for jobs like compiling code, Sharma said.

Another feature that's been discussed with the Power7+ - the ability to put two processors in one socket - also isn't available yet. The DCM, or Dual Chip Module, effectively increases the operations per second that customers get from each socket, with the trade-off that the cores run at lower clock speeds.

It's not being offered for the high-end Power systems machines, however. "It's partly that there is a little bit more work to do, and partly it's the class of systems where we want to use that capability," Sharma said. He wouldn't give details but implied the technology is destined for midrange or lower-end systems like the Power 740 and 750.

IBM offers a sort of "compute on demand" scheme for its Power systems, through which customers can pay to activate additional processor cores for a few weeks or months, such as during the holiday shopping season, then disable again them afterwards.

It's running a "special offer" for customers who buy a new 780 or 795 system. For each processor that ships with the server, they get 15 days of additional processing for free. So if a customer buys a Power 780 system with 16 cores enabled, they also get 15 days when they can turn on an additional 16 cores.

It's also introducing a concept called Power System Pools, which lets customers use those 15 days - and any other compute days they purchase - across up to 10 different 780 or 795 servers. Essentially it gives customers more flexibility in how they allocate their processor resources, and, IBM hopes, makes them a bit more likely to choose IBM.

IBM doesn't usually publish prices for such high-end systems but the faster chips will come in at about the same price point as their predecessors, Sharma said. It will offer slightly better pricing on the Power 780 because it would prefer more customers bought its higher-end systems, he said.



Share:

More from Techworld

More relevant IT news

Comments



Send to a friend

Email this article to a friend or colleague:

PLEASE NOTE: Your name is used only to let the recipient know who sent the story, and in case of transmission error. Both your name and the recipient's name and address will not be used for any other purpose.

Techworld White Papers

Choose – and Choose Wisely – the Right MSP for Your SMB

End users need a technology partner that provides transparency, enables productivity, delivers...

Download Whitepaper

10 Effective Habits of Indispensable IT Departments

It’s no secret that responsibilities are growing while budgets continue to shrink. Download this...

Download Whitepaper

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Information Archiving

Enterprise information archiving is contributing to organisational needs for e-discovery and...

Download Whitepaper

Advancing the state of virtualised backups

Dell Software’s vRanger is a veteran of the virtualisation specific backup market. It was the...

Download Whitepaper

Techworld UK - Technology - Business

Innovation, productivity, agility and profit

Watch this on demand webinar which explores IT innovation, managed print services and business agility.

Techworld Mobile Site

Access Techworld's content on the move

Get the latest news, product reviews and downloads on your mobile device with Techworld's mobile site.

Find out more...

From Wow to How : Making mobile and cloud work for you

On demand Biztech Briefing - Learn how to effectively deliver mobile work styles and cloud services together.

Watch now...

Site Map

* *