Feeds

Power7 - Big Blue eye on UNIX

Four server preemptive launch

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

The 770 and the 780

The Power 770 is a version of the Power 750 chassis that has two disk bays removed and the NUMA/SMP clustering bus added in. The Power 770 server node also has two GX++ slots per node, which means it can support a lot more 12X I/O drawers and therefore a lot more peripherals. Each Power 770 server node can have six disks or SSDs and has six PCI-Express slots. With the maximum of 16 12X-based I/O drawers, the machine can support 184 PCI-Express slots across four server nodes and 1,320 disk or SSD drives.

The Power 770 nodes have two flavors of processor cards: one using six-core Power7s running at 3.5 GHz (with 12, 24, 36, or 48 cores activated) and another using eight-core Power7s running at 3.1 GHz (with 16, 32, 48, and 64 cores activated). Main memory on the machine spans from 32 GB to 2 TB. To get memory capacity up to 1 TB means dropping the memory speed from 1.33 GHz down to 1 GHz, and going up to 2 TB means dropping down to 800 MHz. For some workloads, the lower speed of the memory will negate the extra capacity benefits.

The Power 780 is essentially the same machine as the Power 770 with three changes. First, it uses processor cards that have two sockets per card instead of one, which means it has double the processor cores. (However, the memory slots stay the same at 16 per processor card and the maximum main stays at the same 32 GB to 2 TB range per machine).

The second change is that it comes in the same enterprise-class, green-striped chassis that the Power 595 and System z mainframes have. (It has the skin of a mainframe, but the guts of a NUMA cluster with an architecture that IBM has been developing for a decade and selling for six years.) The other big change is the machine only has one set of processor cards, but they have two operational modes. In MaxCore mode, as IBM calls it, each node in the Power 780 cluster has four processor cards for between 16 and 64 cores running at 3.8 GHz, depending on if you buy one to four nodes.

If you happen to have a workload, like an OLTP system, that would do better having fewer cores running at a higher speed, you flip a switch in the microcode, reboot the system, and when it starts up you run in TurboCore mode. In this mode, the cores run at 4.1 GHz, but only half of them turn on. Those remaining cores in the system have access to both memory controllers on the Power7 chips and its full 32 MB of embedded DRAM L3 cache memory. For database workloads, TurboCore mode can boost performance by 20 per cent over MaxCore mode on the same physical machine.

IBM is not publishing pricing information on the machines yet, but Handy says that the memory price cuts that IBM made on Power6 and Power6+ systems back in November, where it cut DDR2 memory tags by between 28 and 70 per cent, were in fact setting the prices on older memory to the same level as IBM expected to charge for DDR3 memory on the Power7-based servers.

As for the systems themselves, IBM's plan is to hold prices roughly the same as the prior Power6 and Power6+ systems and give customers the extra performance. "This is very aggressive price/performance for us, and we are striking while the iron is hot," Handy says.

All of the Power7 machines announced today can support the current AIX 6.1 release as well as the earlier AIX 5.3 release. Customers using i/OS are going to have to move up to the i 6.1.1 interim release that was announced last quarter, and to fully exploit the Power7 feature set, they will have to wait to see i 7.1 later this year. (The word on the street is that i 7.1 will be available in the third week of April, but IBM did not confirm this).

Red Hat Enterprise Linux is not supported on these Power7 machines, which is a bit odd, but apparently IBM and Red Hat are working on it. Novell's SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 10 SP3 and 11 will run on the machines today. IBM plans to start shipping the Power 750 and 755 servers on February 19, The larger Power 770 and 780 machines will ship on March 16. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
The Return of BSOD: Does ANYONE trust Microsoft patches?
Sysadmins, you're either fighting fires or seen as incompetents now
Microsoft: Azure isn't ready for biz-critical apps … yet
Microsoft will move its own IT to the cloud to avoid $200m server bill
Death by 1,000 cuts: Mainstream storage array suppliers are bleeding
Cloud, all-flash kit, object storage slicing away at titans of storage
US regulators OK sale of IBM's x86 server biz to Lenovo
Now all that remains is for gov't offices to ban the boxes
Oracle reveals 32-core, 10 BEEELLION-transistor SPARC M7
New chip scales to 1024 cores, 8192 threads 64 TB RAM, at speeds over 3.6GHz
VMware vaporises vCHS hybrid cloud service
AnD yEt mOre cRazy cAps to dEal wIth
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
7 Elements of Radically Simple OS Migration
Avoid the typical headaches of OS migration during your next project by learning about 7 elements of radically simple OS migration.
BYOD's dark side: Data protection
An endpoint data protection solution that adds value to the user and the organization so it can protect itself from data loss as well as leverage corporate data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?