The New IBM PowerLinux Servers


When we unveiled the new PowerLinux, a lot of the story revolved around the solutions we announced. I thought I would take some time today to talk a bit about the hardware that runs underneath it all.

A big part of what makes the new solutions (and the new price points) possible is the new servers we’re basing them on. We have two: a 2U rack-mount server (the 7R2) and a compute node that goes into our new PureFlex system (the p24L).

PowerLinux 7R2 front view
PowerLinux 7R2 front view

IBM Flex System p24L front view
IBM Flex System p24L front view

Both are two-socket, 16-core POWER7 systems, with up to 4 threads per core. Both come with the PowerVM for PowerLinux hypervisor, licensed for all the cores and no limit on the amount of memory you can use. And both will boot enterprise Linux from Red Hat or SUSE (as well as other distros).

The great thing about these systems (other than the price) is that they are based on the same POWER7 architecture that the rest of our Power Systems line is based on. This means that you get the throughput, scalability, reliability, and security of our UNIX servers, at a cost you’re used to paying for a comparable virtualized x86 solution.

It’s important to remember that when we talk about throughput and scalability, we’re not just talking about the processor (although the POWER7 CPU is plenty fast). A processor’s performance is useless if you can’t keep it fed, so IBM designed the POWER platform with fast, wide data expressways interconnecting the processors, memory, and I/O. Combined with the 4-way multi-threading capabilities and deep caches in the CPU, these features help ensure that data moves into and out of the system with incredible speed.

This is why when the Edison Group did a head-to-head TPoX benchmark comparison between brand new x86 and POWER7 compute nodes, running SLES11 in a PureFlex environment, they found that the POWER7 compute node provided 72% more throughput than the x86 node (read the analyst report). It’s also why the University of Hamburg was able to purchase two PowerLinux 7R2s instead of 10 low-end x86 boxes, satisfying their I/O requirements while reducing costs, and doubling the performance of their OpenAFS network file system in the process (read the case study).

You may already know that Power Systems has a proven track record of resilience from hardware, software, and malicious faults. But you may not realize that the PowerVM hypervisor has had ZERO reported vulnerabilities. If you think for a second about the last outage your virtualization hypervisor caused, and how much time that outage cost you, you start to understand the value of that statement. Solitaire Interglobal did a study across over 5,000 organizations running SAP ERP solutions on both PowerLinux and Windows hardware, and found that PowerLinux deployments had 43% less downtime (read the analyst report).

These are just a few of the reasons why Linux just runs better on Power. Customers seem to appreciate having a better choice when it comes to cost effective computing infrastructure, and we hope that PowerLinux deployments become valuable assets to businesses around the world who are always trying to do more with less.



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