IBM Introduces Alternative to x86 Servers - OpenPOWER-Based Systems

Published on October 08, 2014

IBM Introduces Alternative to x86 Servers - OpenPOWER-Based Systems

    IBM introduced a new line of computing systems that can cope with huge amounts of data faster than servers based on Intel Xeon v3 processors. New systems exceed the “cost / performance” indicators of general-purpose servers by 20%, (1) (2) thus, offering a more profitable alternative to customers.

    The rapid growth of big data - more than 2.5 quintillion data generated by devices every day - challenges organizations to build powerful technological infrastructures in order to extract valuable information from these arrays. Widely used today, general-purpose servers are based on closed processor technology, and are often used at the limit of their capacities due to the loads associated with processing big data, as well as cloud and mobile computing. IBM, in turn, is introducing a new approach to data processing systems that combines the efforts of the OpenPOWER Foundation consortium. Created at the end of 2013, the consortium is developing rapidly and today includes 59 companies working to expand the capabilities of the IBM POWER processor to develop industry innovation.

    “An open business model and our approach within OpenPOWER will replace technology providers that offer proprietary, proprietary solutions built within the walls of a single company,” comments Doug Balog, CEO, Power Systems, IBM Systems & Technology Group. “The new technology will provide customers with more choices and help them get valuable information as quickly as possible for the subsequent solution of business problems.”

    The new IBM Power S824L servers are based on the IBM POWER8 processor, the world's first chip optimized for the most demanding big data processing workloads. (3) The technologies of IBM and other members of the OpenPOWER consortium, including the NVIDIA GPU accelerator, are reliably integrated into the new systems in order to provide unmatched computing power so that banks can better assess risks, energy companies - more accurately determine oil fields, and scientists - quickly select the right methods of treating patients.

    Based on OpenPOWER technologies, (4) Power S824L systems provide customers with the opportunity to run tasks with intensive data exchange on the POWER8 processor, while reducing the load on other computing tasks associated with processing large data using NVIDIA GPU accelerators that can perform millions of calculations in parallel mode and designed specifically to accelerate the work of demanding applications.
    As part of the further adaptation of GPU accelerators for Power Systems, IBM plans to optimize its entire portfolio of enterprise applications for working with big data, including IBM DB2 databases with support for BLU Acceleration. Moreover, IBM is also working to optimize Power architecture for GPU acceleration for applications used in bioinformatics, financial and defense sectors, molecular dynamics, weather modeling - including SOAP3, NAMD, GROMACS, FFTW and Quantum Espresso libraries.

    The next generation of IBM Power Systems will support NVIDIA NVLink technology, which provides high-speed data exchange between the central and graphic processors using the PCI Express interface. This will provide Nvidia GPU accelerators with access to the memory of IBM POWER processors, as well as increase the productivity of numerous enterprise applications. Similar systems will be available for order at the beginning of 2016.

    IBM POWER8 Extended Portfolio

    In addition to Power S824L systems with GPU accelerators, the IBM Power Systems portfolio based on POWER8 processors also includes:

    IBM Data Engine for NoSQL. Combining the innovative technologies of the OpenPOWER Redis Labs, Canonical, Altera, and IBM consortium members, this solution significantly reduces the cost basis for hosting NoSQL data warehouses. The solution includes Redis Labs software, Canonical's Ubuntu Linux operating system, Altera programmable logic integrated circuit, and the unique Power System S822L CAPI system with IBM FlashSystem 840. With the ability to consolidate computing resources, you can use only one POWER8-based server instead of 24 systems based on Intel processors for full-size NoSQL storage. (5) A multiple reduction in cost is realized precisely due to the small footprint and the corresponding reduction in energy costs. Customers can take advantage of new features and grow NoSQL storage,
    IBM Data Engine for Analytics - Power Systems Edition . Combining POWER8-based systems with flash-based resilient storage technology and Platform Computing software, this new analytic solution can leverage one-third of the storage infrastructure required by x86-based solutions. (6)
    Power Enterprise Systems.Based on the fastest processor in the industry, (7) the new Power Enterprise Systems are expanding the POWER8-based horizontal scaling server lineup introduced in April and optimized for the workloads of demanding enterprise applications and computing environments. The new Power E870 and Power E880 systems are the industry’s most powerful 8-socket servers, supporting up to 1000 virtual memory systems per computer system. (8) If it is possible to use up to 32, 40 or 48 processor cores, as well as up to 4 TB of memory per computing module, these systems are designed to increase modular efficiency and scale up to 192 cores with the support of 1500 threads of computing power and 16 TB of memory. Power Enterprise Systems can run on AIX, IBM i, and Linux.
    Power Enterprise Pools. Offering a powerful foundation for private, public and hybrid cloud systems, Enterprise Pools provide unmatched flexibility and constantly respond to infrastructure changes. Power Enterprise Pools provide customers with the ability to allocate resources across the system pool to meet load requirements, ensure system availability, improve operational efficiency and protect investments when switching to POWER8.

    New IBM Power Systems will be available for order in various configurations starting October 31, 2014.

    Financing proposal

    IBM Global Financing provides customers with affordable options for ordering the latest IBM solutions. Among the proposals are financing at a rate of 0% for Power S824L servers, flexible financing schemes and special programs for migration to new servers of the Power family.

    IBM Global Financing is the largest IT division in the IT industry that helps customers transform their businesses. Flexible payment options help accelerate the adoption of transformative IT technologies, including both IBM products and third-party solutions and services. IBM Global Financing has been providing financing services to customers in 60 countries for 33 years.

    For more information on IBM Power Systems , click here .
    For more information on the OpenPOWER Foundation , click here .

    (1) Performance indicators are based on a preliminary assessment of the published results of SPECcpu2006 (SPECfp_rate2006) dated September 26, 2014.
    (2) IBM calculation based on: IBM Power Systems S824L (2x12 cores / 96 subprocesses / 3.02 GHz) with a configuration of 192 GB of memory (8 GB per core) and running on Ubuntu Advantage Linux. Costing x86 based on: HP DL380p with Intel E5-2699 v3 (2x18 cores / 36 sub-processes / 2.3 GHz) with a configuration of 288 GB of memory (8 GB per core) running Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
    (3) By “big data”, IBM refers to both the processing of large amounts of structured data (relational databases) and unstructured (NoSQL, Map Reduce) data from which users extract analytical information. The POWER8 processor is the first of its kind to have a processor with differentiated technical specifications, designed to work with both structured and unstructured data. The list of these characteristics includes: CAPI architecture (collective accelerator interface) with features such as a). CAPI Flash Access Efficiency, b). Reduce storage with CAPI Attached Compression Accelerator, and c) Accelerate information processing and reduce latency with the CAPI Attached Mellanox RDMA Fabric. DBMA (dynamically balanced memory architecture), including a). Internal Processor Data Flow, b) increased memory bandwidth c). Improving cache capabilities.
    (4) OpenPOWER Technologies - an open set of hardware and software based on the IBM POWER architecture, offered by the OpenPOWER Foundation consortium.
    (5) 24: 1 consolidation ratio (12: 1 density increase) based on one IBM S824 server (24 cores, 3.5 GHz POWER8 processor), 256 GB RAM, AIX 7.1, 40 TB flash memory instead of 24 HP DL380p servers (24 cores, E5-2697 v2 2.7 GHz), 256 GB RAM, SuSE Linux 11SP3. The performance limit is 1M IOPs in both cases, the processing ability is the same in both cases.
    (6) Three times less infrastructure storage needs for Power compared to Intel Hadoop. Based on IBM internal testing, actual results may vary. IBM POWER8-based servers with the GPFS file system used 116 disks (3.5 ”HDS). Intel-based servers with the HDFS file system took 280 drives (3.5 ”HDS). Cost reduction is achieved by eliminating the need for data duplication during Extraction, Transformation and Loads (ETL) processes.
    (7) Based on benchmarks and internal testing.
    (8) Based on benchmarks and internal testing.