At the heart of IBM's Power Systems is the Power7 microprocessor, which features a multicore 45-nanometer design in four-, six- and eight-core options. Each Power7 processor can run up to 32 simultaneous tasks.
The Power Systems family of products ranges from blade servers to entry, midrange and high-end systems like the Power 775 supercomputer. Power Systems are able to run multiple applications on AIX, IBM i and Linux operating systems on a single server, reducing the number of servers that an organization needs to manage and host in a data center.
Ecosystem and Software
More than 16,000 applications support Power7, including 12,500 on AIX, 2,600 on IBM i and 1,200 on Linux. Some of the world's largest SAP installations run on AIX on Power Systems.
PatentsIBM holds more than 200 patents and patent applications as a result of the Power7 Systems development.
IBM's Watson computing system was designed by IBM to answer Jeopardy! questions in less than 3 seconds by using the massively parallel Power7 processors to execute thousands of complex analytics tasks simultaneously. Watson, however, is not a supercomputer. Built on 90 commercially available IBM Power 750 Express servers, it embodies the principles of a workload-optimized system design that can automatically flow system resources to the workloads that need them in real time.
Power Systems ramped up its lead in the Unix server market over the past two years, capturing 46.3 percent market share in the third quarter of 2011 on growth that was up 14 percent year-to-year, according to IDC. IBM's share of the Unix market is now equal to that of Oracle and HP combined.
In 2010 and 2011, more than 2,000 competitive migrations from Oracle and HP servers to IBM Power Systems were completed, driving nearly $2 billion worth of business for IBM.
The University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth is using two IBM Power7 blade servers to study the effect of disturbances, called gravitational waves, on black holes in space. "We are running billions of intense calculations based on Einstein's theory of relativity on the Power7 blades," said Gaurav Khanna, professor of physics at UMass-Dartmouth. "Running Power7, I'm able to get results as much as eight times faster than running the same calculations on an Intel Xeon processor. Calculations that used to take a month to run are now finished in less than a week. This means that I can do eight times more science in the same timeframe than I could do before."
Rice University scientists are using a Power7-based supercomputer to study cancer, AIDS and other complex diseases. Dubbed "BlueBioU," the Linux-based high-performance computing project is capable of 18.8 teraflops—or 18.8 trillion floating point calculations per second.
The Power7 processor is four times more energy-efficient than previous versions, so Power Systems use less power, generate less heat and use less energy to cool the system. Features like the system's EnergyScale technology dynamically optimize processor speed based on thermal conditions and system utilization. If the environment is favorable, the system can speed up processor cores to a frequency higher than the normal rated speed to better handle demanding workloads. When utilization is lighter, or if environmental conditions are less favorable, the system can slow processor cores to save energy.
Codorniu, a Spanish wine producer, consolidated four HP servers to one fully virtualized Power BladeCenter rack to reduce costs and simplify its IT environment. As a result, the company reduced its energy use by 70 percent.
High-end, midrange, entry and blade systems based on the Power7 processor lead in more than 70 key computing performance benchmarks.
PowerVM virtualization technology is designed to support up to 1,000 virtual servers on a single Power7-based system, enabling a rate of system virtualization that's four to five times greater than x86 systems. PowerVM virtual machines can dynamically grow—or shrink—in terms of processors, memory and storage without a reboot.