IBM Delivers New Power Blades and Upgraded Servers

IBM announces a set of new systems running the company's Power7 processors, including new blades and upgraded servers, such as the Power 750-the server used in IBM's Watson computer.

IBM recently announced new workload-optimized Power7 systems, including delivering increased performance to the Power 750-the same server used in Watson, IBM's Jeopardy!-winning computer system.

Unveiled on April 12, the new Power blades and upgraded Power servers are built to manage some of the world's most demanding emerging applications, used in health care management, financial services, scientific research and more, IBM officials said. The specialized demands of these new applications rely on processing an enormous number of concurrent transactions and data while analyzing that information in real time.

New and enhanced Power Systems products include:

  • The new 16-core, single-wide IBM BladeCenter PS703 and 32-core, double-wide IBM BladeCenter PS704 blade servers, which give clients an alternative to sprawling racks. The PS704 delivers 60 percent faster performance with twice the number of cores while using the same amount and space and energy as previous Power7 blades. The new Power7 blades support massive server consolidation with energy-efficient economics.
  • The enhanced IBM Power 750 Express, the same system that powers Watson, now further optimized for the most challenging analytics workloads. The Power 750 has been upgraded with several options, including a faster Power7 processor that offers more than three times the performance of comparable 32-core servers, such as Oracle's SPARC T3-2 server, and more than twice the performance of HP's Integrity BL890c i2, IBM said.
  • The enhanced IBM Power 755, a high-performance computing cluster node with 32 Power7 cores and a faster processor.

Citing use cases, IBM said the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth is using two IBM Power7 blades to study the effect of disturbances, called gravitational waves, on black holes in space. Increased knowledge of gravitational waves will help physicists and astronomers understand some of the most fundamental laws of physics, IBM said. They will provide new information about the dynamics of large-scale events in the universe, like the death of stars and the birth of black holes.

"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, in a statement. "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."

In addition, the new Power7 systems can provide clients with very high levels of server virtualization and consolidation, which can lead to improved price/performance, improved energy efficiency and reduced footprint size in the data center.

RPM Technologies provides enterprise-class wealth management software to some of the largest banks and financial services companies in Canada.

"RPM has always been an early adapter of IBM technology, and the Power7 chips along with AIX 6.1 provided a big boost to the batch and threading speed of our products," said Allan Grossman, chief architect at RPM Technologies, in a statement. "With Power7 chips, batch jobs runtimes improved by upward of 35 percent and less resources were used. As part of our upgrade, RPM also moved to a full virtualized environment across two Power7 16-core P750 machines. This change reduced the time and effort to manage the boxes."

Market research studies show that more and more clients are choosing to run their businesses on IBM Power Systems. According to IDC, IBM extended its lead in Unix servers in the fourth quarter of 2010 by capturing 53.9 percent revenue share of that segment, gaining 5.9 points of share over competitors and leading the second-place vendor by more than 30 percent.

"Our strategy appears to be paying off as more and more customers choose Power Systems," said Tom Rosamilia, general manager of IBM Power and z Systems. "Today's Power announcements demonstrate IBM's ongoing investment in workload-optimized servers. Just two short months after publically demonstrating the future of computing with Watson and its advanced analytical and learning capabilities, IBM is upping the ante with a performance bump in the underlying system."