Feeds

IBM taps Red Hat for cut-throat priced Linux on big supers

LoadLeveler replaced by Platform LSF on x86 clusters

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Big Blue is going to Red Hat for a Linux environment for its largest supercomputers, and it is mothballing its own LoadLeveler workload manager for x86 clusters in favor of the Platform LSF control freak that it acquired a little more than a year ago.

It is no surprise that IBM has chosen Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 as the Linux of choice for its massively parallel BlueGene/Q supercomputers and the Power 775 behemoth that was to be the "Blue Waters" machine at the University of Illinois and that is now being positioned as a big data muncher. (Cray eventually got the Blue Waters contract.)

Both RHEL 6 and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 are supported on Power-based machines, so they can in theory both run on these specialized boxes. But IBM and Red Hat got together and tuned up RHEL 6 for the 18-core PowerPC A2 in the BlueGene/Q and the four chip, 32 core Power7 multichip module used in the Power 775 server nodes, exploiting not only their processors and memory but also the proprietary interconnects that these machines both employ to scale out to 100 petaflops in the case of BlueGene/Q and several tens of petaflops with the Power 775s.

IBM and Red Hat are not just getting together to tune up RHEL 6 for these non-standard machines, but have also come up with special per-rack pricing for support contracts for Shadowman's Linux, which are only available through Big Blue.

This special packaging is called RHEL 6 High Performance Computing, appropriately enough, and it is available on half or full racks with BlueGene/Q machines and for each quad-core module in the Power 775 nodes, and contract terms run from two to five years, which is the practical useful life for a capacity-class supercomputer. And it is considerably cheaper than buying RHEL 6 for plain vanilla Power7-based servers, too.

A rack of BlueGene/Q boxes has 32 processor nodes in a node card, 16 node cards in a midplane, and two midplanes in a rack. That is 1,024 nodes in a rack, as you can see here.

A standard subscription to RHEL 6 for a two-socket Power7-based server is $2,700 and for a four-socket server is $5,400, so a single-socket node like that used in the BlueGene/Q system would cost $1,350. So a rack would run you $1.1m per year at list price.

That is nuts, obviously, and no cheapskate HPC shop with people who understand Linux as well as either IBM or Red Hat is going to pay that. But a two-year contract costs only $90,000, or $45,000 per year, or 24.4 times less money as list price for the Power-based machines. (It is $43.95 per node per year.)

If you go all the way to a five-year contract, you can get it for a rack of BlueGene/Q for $225,000, which works out to the same $45,000 per year per rack. So customers are not getting a discount for a longer term contract, as is common given the time value of money. But look at the discount rate off list for RHEL support.

On the Power 775 servers, the special RHEL 6 edition from IBM costs $1,066 for each quad-core module for a two year contract, or $533 per socket per year. That works out to 2.5 times less money per socket than a regular RHEL for Power support contract, and if you normalize it for core counts, it is more like ten times cheaper.

In other HPC software news, IBM has announced that it is going to put all of its weight behind the Platform LSF workload scheduler on x86-based clusters and withdraw its own Tivoli-branded LoadLeveler program for x86-based machines. IBM will sell LoadLeveler for x86-based machines until March 15 of next year and support the software until April 30, 2015.

The LoadLeveler V5 for both AIX and Linux on Power will continue to be sold and supported on Power Systems servers and the variant for the BlueGene/Q will also still be available, too. That said, IBM is telling customers that Platform LSF is the workload scheduler of choice for its System x, PureFlex, and Power Systems clusters and grids, so take that into consideration when you are planning. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Docker's app containers are coming to Windows Server, says Microsoft
MS chases app deployment speeds already enjoyed by Linux devs
IBM storage revenues sink: 'We are disappointed,' says CEO
Time to put the storage biz up for sale?
'Hmm, why CAN'T I run a water pipe through that rack of media servers?'
Leaving Las Vegas for Armenia kludging and Dubai dune bashing
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
SDI wars: WTF is software defined infrastructure?
This time we play for ALL the marbles
Windows 10: Forget Cloudobile, put Security and Privacy First
But - dammit - It would be insane to say 'don't collect, because NSA'
Oracle hires former SAP exec for cloudy push
'We know Larry said cloud was gibberish, and insane, and idiotic, but...'
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.