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Big Blue says Power7 will make world smarter

It's not a chip. It's a system

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'A new type of performance'

"There's a new type of performance that is required here," said Adkins, reminding everyone that the problem was not just about gathering up this massive amount of telemetry, but doing on-the-fly analytics against these large data sets to manage the electric grids in real time.

Ross Mauri, general manager of the Power Systems division that is building the machines that put the eight-core Power7 chips to work, says the company has been working on the system design for three and a half years, and the machines are ready to take on the big jobs and the competition.

While looking the view of Central Park from the 36th floor of the Mandarin Chinese Hotel, Mauri took a moment to chat ahead of his unveiling of the Power7 chip and machines. "This is the first time that any chip maker has increased cores, increased threads, and increased per-core performance at the same time," Mauri said.

This is certainly true for the past several years of the RISC/Itanium market, and you could argue that the Nehalem-EP cores had a bit more performance than their predecessors in the Xeon lineup, depending on the applications and mostly thanks to a new memory architecture.

"The yields are good on the Power7 chips, and if you are hearing rumors to the contrary, call me up and I am happy to deny them," Mauri added.

In fact, IBM has had beta Power7 machines running at customer sites since last August - what Mauri said was the earliest beta for Power boxes in the history of the RS/6000 and successor product lines at Big Blue, and he added that over 100 customers have been using Power7 boxes since last December.

"These systems can run at 90 or 95 per cent utilization, and we have a lot of customers who do that," Mauri said during his presentation. "You can push these systems and they perform well and scale linearly."

Of course, the real issue in the new integrated systems world is having the full stack to tune for optimal performance - something that IBM cannot do because, unlike Oracle, it is not an application software provider. But IBM is aware of this and last year tweaked its sales force to do more solution-based selling with its ISV partners and to compensate its sales reps accordingly. "You will see us do a lot more partnering and selling with our ISVs," said Adkins.

I wonder how Oracle fits into that, being the dominant supplier of databases on Unix and the second-largest supplier of applications. IBM might be wise to merge with SAP and declare war and get it over with. ®

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