New IBM Linux Servers Tap OpenPower Technology

IBM announced three new Linux servers that feature technology from OpenPower Foundation members, including Nvidia.

IBM logo

IBM this week launched a new "LC" line of servers that infuse technologies from members of the OpenPower Foundation and are part of IBM's Power Systems portfolio of servers.

The new Power Systems LC servers were designed based on technologies and development efforts contributed by OpenPower Foundation partners—including Canonical, Mellanox, Nvidia, Tyan and Wistron.

The OpenPower Foundation, an organization with more than 150 members worldwide, builds solutions on top of the open architecture of IBM's Power processor. IBM maintains that this open and collaborative model allows for rapid innovation not currently available using alternative, closed innovation methods.

"I think it's notable that IBM designed the new servers with the aid of members of the OpenPower Foundation," said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT. "That reinforces the company's commitment to and support of OpenPower, but it also means that other notable vendors have a dog in this fight. That could and should help drive sales of the new systems."

The LC servers bring the higher performance of Power CPUs to the Linux community, in particular to data analytics, cloud and high-performance computing (HPC) workloads. For example, based on IBM internal testing, a new Power Systems LC server can complete an average of select Apache Spark workloads—including analyzing Twitter feeds, streaming Web page views and other data-intensive analytics—for less than half the cost of an Intel E5-2699 V3 processor-based server, providing clients with 2.3 times better performance per dollar spent. Additionally, the efficient design of a Power Systems LC server allows for 94 percent more Spark social media workloads in the same rack space as a comparable Intel-based server.

"Clients need cognitive systems that are reliable, cost-effective and capable of ingesting and making sense of incredible amounts of structured and unstructured data," Doug Balog, general manager of IBM Power Systems, said in a statement. "Embracing an open model of innovation has enabled us to build systems that help translate mountains of data into actionable business insight. By collaborating with partners from the OpenPower Foundation, our new line of servers provides clients with the performance they need to analyze and act on their data in real time."

For instance, Allegiant Air, a low-cost American airline carrier, is among IBM's customers running Linux on Power Systems to analyze data. The airline is able to immediately analyze customer behavior on its Website, looking for trends like price sensitivity in order to adjust quickly and provide on-the-spot promotional marketing offers to help convert a potential customer's online browse into a purchase.

"All enterprises are facing growing amounts of data," Brian O'Neil, director of data architecture at Allegiant Travel, said in a statement. "It's how you analyze—and what you do with—the results that allows you take the lead. Leveraging Linux on IBM Power Systems, we have been able to immediately glean valuable insights from a number of data sources, enabling us to take action quicker and more efficiently than ever before."

Generally available later this year, the Power Systems LC line of servers will be offered in three different variations: the Power Systems S812LC, the Power Systems S822LC for commercial computing and the Power Systems S822LC for high-performance computing.

The S812LC is a one-socket 2U system equipped with up to 10 cores, 1TB of memory, 115GB-per-second memory bandwidth and up to 14 disk drives. The S812LC is a Linux system optimized for workloads that are memory and storage rich, such as Spark and Hadoop, to provide immediate insights efficiently.

The two-socket 2U Power Systems S822LC for commercial computing and high-performance computing come similarly configured with up to 20 cores, 1TB of memory and 230GB-per-second memory bandwidth. The S822LC for high-performance computing also comes with two integrated Nvidia Tesla K80 GPU accelerators, the flagship offering of the Nvidia Tesla Accelerated Computing Platform. The two S822LC variants will offer over two times the performance per core, 40 percent better price/performance and more than two times the memory bandwidth—with fully configured memory—compared to similarly configured x86-based E5-2699 V3 machines.

"IBM continues to leverage the technological innovations, including superior thread count, memory and interconnect options that makes Power stand out over competing technologies, including x86," King said. "In addition, IBM has designed the new systems for the rigors and business requirements of Linux-specific commercial workloads, like analytics, cloud and HPC. That should simplify the purchasing process for many customers."

Meanwhile, with these offerings, IBM is providing customers with a new purchasing experience on their mobile devices or on the Web. From developers to small businesses to organizations of all sizes, this new digital experience provides simple pricing to purchase Power Systems. Rapidly evolving, later this year, the digital experience will include a click-to-buy option enabling clients to purchase these systems on the Web with a credit card.