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IBM waterboards PA-RISC Superdome from HP

Power6 charged with crimes against hamster wheels

IBM

The fierce Unix server market will sometimes drive vendors to madness. Just look at IBM, which has taken to skinning corpses so that it can prove the toughness of Power6-based gear.

IBM will usually engage in mostly fair fights, pitting Power-based servers against HP's Itanium systems. Big Blue's most recent assault, however, has a System p550 Express server throttling a PA-RISC powered Superdome from HP. Perhaps there were no HP calculators to bully?

The IBM system relied on four of the company's dual-core 4.2GHz Power6 chips, the DB2 Enterprise 9 database and the AIX Version 5.3 operating system to post a TPC-C benchmark result of 629,159 tpmC. Meanwhile, the gasping HP system in question used 64 single-core PA-RISCs running at 875MHz, Oracle 10G Enterprise Edition and HP-UX 11i to hit 541,673 tpmC. IBM, of course, supported two threads per core to HP's one thread per core as well, but we're sure you guessed that.

Ever curious, we popped over to the TPC benchmark site to discover that HP posted its result in July of 2003. So, er, that's almost three Moore's Law units ago, if you're keeping score at home.

Those of you with a time machine and a self-destructive streak will want to note that:

An eight-core p550 uses only nine percent of the energy costs compared to a 64-core HP 9000 Superdome PA-RISC 8700 and uses only two percent of the space. The space savings is calculated based on a 64-core HP 9000 Superdome filling two cabinets resulting in a total of 128.9 cubic feet consumed, while the faster IBM p550 is a 4U server utilizing just two cubic feet or 1/10th of one standard 42U rack. Using 56 fewer cores, customers can also save up to 87 percent of the cost of software that has a licensing fee on a per core basis when migrating from the 64-core HP 9000 Superdome solution to the eight-core System p 550 Express.

This is really helpful stuff. Pitch it to your boss during the next upgrade.

We can, of course, understand IBM having a bit of a laugh over HP's PA-RISC and Alpha death march. The vendor really, really wants to drive home the old-fashioned nature of HP's PA-RISC gear and remind you that fast, slick servers are awaiting your HP-UX code should you accept the migration challenge.

(IBM did also manage a couple of lines - make that one line - in its statement for a more contemporary comparison. It plotted the p550 against a four-socket Itanium 2-based Integrity rx6600 from HP. IBM's score of 629,159 still beat HP's 372,140, but - shhhh, please ignore the fine print - IBM's system demand $2.49 per transaction versus $1.81 for HP. Down in the back.)

In fact, IBM will dangle a few services goodies to complement its "leadership results" and get you off HP.

"IBM last month introduced a program designed to assist customers facing uncertainty about the ability to order new PA-RISC systems after December 31, 2008, and the delay of Sun's ROCK processor by incenting clients to move to IBM UNIX solutions," IBM said.

The program includes some free assessments for migrations and a "no obligation to buy" bit along with some rebate bobs.

"The trade-in program includes a rebate offer of up to $7,200 per server (up from $4,800) for 3.5 GHz models ($900 per core) and up to $9,600 per server for 4.2 GHz models ($1,200 per core) good throughout 2008 for certain HP and Sun and other UNIX server replacements in the US, available now."

Itanic crushes Beeb micro, anyone? ®

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