IBM launches a set of Power7 systems that it says deliver up to four times the energy efficiency and twice the performance of the previous generation of Power systems and some of the current crop of competing systems.
launched a set of new Power7 systems that it says deliver up to four times the
energy efficiency and twice the performance of the previous generation of Power
systems and some of the current crop of competing systems.
At an old fashioned reach-out-and-touch launch at the swanky Mandarin
Oriental Hotel here, Rod Adkins, senior vice president of IBM's
Systems and Technology Group, laid out IBM's
strategy for its new ecofriendly systems.
Indeed, Adkins laid the foundation for the launch event at the outset.
"This is not a chip announcement; this is a systems announcement,"
he said. "This is not a reaction or adjustment, or a new strategy based on
a new acquisition. This is not a bag-of-parts announcement. This announcement
is grounded in R&D developments."
Charles King, an analyst with Pund-IT who witnessed the IBM
Power7 systems launch, told eWEEK: "Power7 really qualifies as a highly
innovative next-generation architecture. As the market moves more and more to
x86-type systems, it's important for companies that have their own processors
to demonstrate how much headroom their microprocessor infrastructure has.
Power7 demonstrates that in spades. It delivers more performance and a high
degree of system flexibility for the same price as the previous generation. And
IBM is delivering all that without asking
the customer to pay for it. In this economy that is all to the good."
The Power7 systems also fit well with IBM's
Smarter Planet strategy, in which more smart systems must be managed and integrated
into traditional IT environments.
Adkins said the growth in computing has been relatively steady up to now.
However, as we enter the "decade of smart," the need for more systems
with "intelligent performance" will increase. The Power7 systems will
fill that role, he said.
"The important subtext is the new systems can provide a significant
increase in performance that is germane to current computing workloads, but are
also designed with next-generation workloads in mind," King said.
"I'm talking about the instrumented world where businesses are informed
and improved by gaining information from millions of sensors and sources. And
IT vendors must step up and develop systems that can take in and make sense of
that information. The sheer leap in performance of the Power7 should enable
businesses to take advantage of 'Smarter Planet' apps. And this bodes well for
the future of the Power systems road map-if we can see this much improvement
between Power6 and Power7, what can we expect for Power8?"
As an example of the kinds of workloads to be expected, Adkins noted that
there are now 1.3 billion RFID (radio-frequency identification) tags generating
information, there are more than a trillion connected objects and computers
have branched beyond the data center. And systems are becoming much more
integrated and smarter, he said.
These changes and future workloads such as smart grids will only add to the
current infrastructure that's already under stress, Adkins said.
To help handle these issues, "there's a new type of performance needed
here: intelligent performance where you look at patterns of data and start to
predict outcomes. Intelligent performance is the ability to deal with real time
data and analytics," he said.
The Power7 represents a move from raw performance to intelligent
performance, Adkins added. "This is a systems approach, to focus on
integration and deep optimization [of IBM
core technology] to drive innovation into every layer of the stack," he
Ross Mauri, general manager of IBM Power
Systems, said the Power7 systems are designed to manage millions of
transactions in real time. "The systems are designed for a Smarter
Planet," he said, noting that the new systems are designed to scale
quickly and efficiently, enable a flexible flow of resources, avoid downtime,
save energy and automate management tasks.
"With a Power7 you can analyze data from billions of Smarter Planet
devices," Mauri said.
The new Power7 systems include:
"??Ã IBM Power
780, a new category of scalable, high-end servers, featuring an advanced
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 providing excellent ROI
for applications with high per-core performance requirements, such as managing
and analyzing transactions from a smart electrical grid.
??Ã IBM Power 770, a midrange 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.
??Ã IBM Power 755, a high-performance computing
cluster node with 32 POWER7 cores, Energy Star qualified for exceptional energy
efficiency, and optimized for the most challenging analytic workloads.
??Ã IBM Power 750 Express, an Energy Star qualified
business server for mid-market clients offering 4 times the processing capacity
of its predecessor, the IBM Power
550 Express in the same energy envelope and up to five-times the performance
and seven-times the performance per watt of comparable Sun and HP UNIX servers."
Mauri said IBM actually released several
Power7 systems into the wild as early as August 2009 to let a few key customers
One such customer was Kamran Khan, vice provost of IT at Rice
University is using the systems in
conjunction with the Texas Medical
Center to look for better ways to
treat and possibly cure cancer.
"Cancer is going to take over as the No. 1 killer of people-right now
it's heart disease-but cancer is going to overtake that," Khan said.
"So we look at how to use computational power to be able to do things.
We're looking at computational quantum chemistry, so it's not business data,
but we do a lot of data analysis. Quick computational research is very much
needed" for purposes such as visualizations, simulation, DNA
analysis and algorithms. "We're on the systems now and we're seeing lots
of benefits," said Khan, whose organization uses the Power7 systems in a
"Scalability is very critical to us, but so is having high
availability," Khan said. He said Rice practices a condo-computing model in
which researchers are allotted research time. "We are able to insert these
'condos' and build a system as well as have a lot of common areas."
Another user, Terry Keene, president and CEO
of iSys (Integration Systems), said he has been selling IBM
systems to Wall Street for years and just three years ago only one-third of all
broker deals were done by computers, but today more than two-thirds are done
electronically, with one-third or fewer conducted by voice. "They need
trading to happen in under 100 microseconds," Keene
said. The Power7 systems can deliver this, he said. "We need to scale
things with a much smaller footprint. Power7 is going to change that whole
eMeter, a leading maker of software that runs e-grids, uses IBM
Power Systems to process the extreme amount of data that comes in from millions
of smart meters while analyzing that information on the fly. In Canada,
operators of Ontario's grid, the IESO (Independent Electricity System Operator)-which
provides centralized metering services for more than 90 utility companies
within Ontario Province-use eMeter software on IBM
Power Systems to process hourly power consumption data from all residential
At the Power7 systems launch, Scott Smith, client business manager for
eMeter, said, "There are hundreds of millions of meters all talking back
to us over the 'net, and our goal is to take all that data and roll it back
into business processes ... Utilities are now at a crossroads. They have to be
efficient, green and now a service industry for the first time. They have to
focus on customer service."
Moreover, "eMeter ran a successful benchmark on IBM
Power6 systems for more than 20 million smart meters-more than four times [the]
scale of any other utilities industry benchmark," Smith said in a
statement. "We know that there are already markets in the world that
are scaling significantly. Combining eMeter and IBM's
Power7 we are confident we can hit much higher numbers to meet their
At the Power7 systems launch, Smith said eMeter has aspirations to support
50 million smart meters with the Power7 systems. "Data is the element
of this equation," Smith said. "We need systems to manage that data.
We're going to have 1,000 times more data. So I need systems that integrate
with business processes" to handle that data.
Meanwhile, Mauri said all of the IBM
Software Group brands have developed optimized solutions for the Power7
systems. In addition, Adkins said IBM will
be working more closely with ISV partners to
deliver Power7-optimized versions of their products.
Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.