IBM Will Unveil First Power5+ Systems

The new servers will represent the first in IBM's new System p5 family. The systems not only will run the Power5+, but also are a melding of the pSeries and OpenPower servers.

IBM on Tuesday is unveiling the first systems that will be armed with the new Power5+ processor, including a server with a version of the chip that offers four processing cores on a single module.

The new servers will represent the first in IBMs new System p5 family. The systems not only will run the Power5+, but also are a melding of the pSeries and OpenPower servers, said Jeff Howard, program director for p5 product marketing. The systems not only can run AIX 5L—IBMs version of Unix—but also Linux operating systems from Red Hat Inc. and Novell Inc.s Suse Linux unit.

IBMs announcement ramps up the competition in the Unix computing space. Two weeks ago, Sun Microsystems Inc. rolled out systems sporting its new UltraSPARC IV+ processors. In addition, Sun early next year will introduce the first systems running on its upcoming "Niagara" processors, which will offer up to eight cores on a single piece of silicon. Intel Corp. later this year also will unveil "Montecito," the first dual-core version of its Itanium chip, upon which Hewlett-Packard Co. is standardizing its high-end servers, including those running HP-UX, its Unix variant.

Howard said IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., will bring the Power5+ chip to its mid-range and high-end Unix servers next year, opting to offer it first to buyers of its low-end systems through these servers. The systems will come in two editions—the AIX 5L edition for Unix customers, and the OpenPower Edition for those running Linux. However, both editions will run the other operating systems on partitions, Howard said.

They will be available starting Oct. 14.

"It really gives the small and midsize customers access to the technology that larger customers already have been exploiting," Howard said.

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Power5+ is built on IBMs 90-nanometer manufacturing process, and comes in 1.5GHz and 1.9GHz frequencies. The current Power5, built in a 130-nm process, tops out at 1.65GHz.

Included in the new systems is the p5 550Q—a two-socket server that offers a quad-core version of Power5+, with each core on the 1.5GHz chip running up to two threads of instructions simultaneously via Symmetric Multi-Threading. That capability will enable customers to consolidate the workloads of multiple servers onto a single p550Q, Howard said.

IBM began offering dual-core capabilities on the Power4 chip in 2001, and with the exception of the quad-core version, Power5+ also is dual-core. The company also is announcing the single-socket p520 with the 1.9GHz version of the chip for small databases and branch offices, and the dual-socket p550 for larger databases and such applications as e-commerce and business intelligence.

Also in the volume space, IBM is offering the p505, a 1U (1.75-inch) server for scale-out environments running 1.5GHz or 1.65GHz Power5 chips.

IBM also is bringing Power5+ to its p575 for high-performance computing. With the Power5, the p575 shipped with eight processors, with one core on each processor turned off, essentially making the system an eight-way. With the 1.5GHz Power5+, IBM will ship it with both cores on, making it a 16-way system, Howard said.

In addition, IBM will offer the Intellistation Power 285 workstation with Power5+.

Howard said the goal of the new systems is to bring better performance, thermal controls and high-end features to the volume space, while also enabling customers to run both AIX 5L and Linux on separate partitions in the same machines.

"People are demanding better competitive power [and] better price/performance … in the same small footprint," he said.

Bringing Linux onto the systems is the latest step by IBM to expand the presence of the open OS on the Power-based systems. The OpenPower systems, introduced last year, were designed only for Linux. One goal of the program was to entice software makers to move their Linux applications to the Power platform, Howard said. There currently are more than 1,500 Linux applications that can run on Power, he said.

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However, customers were saying that while they liked the OpenPower systems for their Linux applications, many also had some AIX applications that they wanted to run on the same systems, a problem solved with the new p5 servers, Howard said.

In addition, IBM also is introducing new virtualization capabilities in the p5 servers to make it easier to install either AIX 5L or Linux on the systems. The Integrated Virtualization Manager is a browser-based user interface that enables customers to create a MicroPartition for the operating system in three clicks. IBM also is offering Director 5.1 on the p5 systems to help monitor and manage the servers from a single console.

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