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IBM System p5: bigger, better, faster

Heading down the speedway

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Comment IBM has announced the latest high-end servers in its System p family, the IBM System p5-590 and System p5-595, both equipped with POWER5+ processors, and up to 32 cores and 64 cores respectively.

The new servers feature 16-core units called "books", each containing two eight-core multichip modules (MCM) with four dual-core POWER5+ processors. Each processor chip contains 1.9MB of L2 cache and an integrated memory controller. The MCM contains 36MB of L3 cache per dual-core processor chip, and each book provides 16 memory card slots to support up to 512GB of RAM each.

The IBM Virtualisation Engine allows each server to accommodate up to 10 virtual server partitions per processor core. The 64-core p5-595 running a single instance of IBM DB2 9 on AIX 5L, using IBM System Storage DS4800, processed 4,016,222 transactions per minute on the TPC-C benchmark.

The company noted that its improved processor performance is due to the Dual Stress process that IBM originally developed for state-of-the-art video gaming consoles. This process involves simultaneously stretching and compressing the silicon to deliver up to a 24 per cent transistor speed increase, at the same power levels, compared with similar transistors produced without the technology.

IBM also announced the IBM Tivoli Usage and Accounting Manager, which collects information from operating systems, databases, networks, storage systems, applications and virtualised environments and tracks which part of an organization consumes each of these resources, enabling administrators to accurately monitor and bill for individual usage of virtualised resources.

Additionally, IBM is launching the IBM Server Consolidation Factory for System p, which delivers a complete solution including hardware, middleware, and consulting and deployment services, together with financing to help customers move to a virtualised environment on System p.

The IT motor speedway is one place where the drive for bigger, better, faster, and cheaper never seems to diminish. We see this in these announcements but we also see benefits derived from seemingly innocuous customer electronics finding their place inside some of the world's largest and most power servers.

The latest System p5 offerings are powerful systems with a lot to offer large organizations beyond simple benchmark bragging rights as they feature some of the most granular virtualisation capabilities available today.

The Tivoli Usage and Accounting Manager addresses what has been a missing component in many organisations' IT consolidation efforts, namely the ability to track and manage the use of virtualised resources by many different departments/users.

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