IBM Unveils New POWER8 Systems, Built for Big Data

IBM unveiled new Power Systems servers Wednesday, leveraging POWER8 processor technology and designed for a new era of big data and open innovation

John Rath

April 23, 2014

4 Min Read
IBM Unveils New POWER8 Systems, Built for Big Data
Technicians with Evolving Solutions, a premier IBM Business Partner, install one of the new IBM Power Systems servers into their data center in Minnesota. (Photo: IBM)

IBM unveiled new Power Systems servers Wednesday, leveraging POWER8 technology for a new era of big data and open innovation. Through the OpenPOWER Foundation, IBM also released detailed technical specifications for its POWER8 processor, inviting collaborators and competitors alike to innovate on the processor and server platform.

The new scale-out IBM Power Systems servers culminate a $2.4 billion investment, three-plus years of development and exploit the innovation of hundreds of IBM patents. The systems are built from the ground up to harness Big Data with the new IBM POWER8 processor, a sliver of silicon that measures just one square inch, which is embedded with more than 4 billion microscopic transistors and more than 11 miles of high-speed copper wiring.

"This is the first truly disruptive advancement in high-end server technology in decades, with radical technology changes and the full support of an open server ecosystem that will seamlessly lead our clients into this world of massive data volumes and complexity," said Tom Rosamilia, Senior Vice President, IBM Systems and Technology Group. "There no longer is a one-size-fits-all approach to scale out a data center. With our membership in the OpenPOWER Foundation, IBM’s POWER8 processor will become a catalyst for emerging applications and an open innovation platform."

New POWER8 Systems

IBM announced three new Power Systems solutions optimized for the unique requirements of Big Data and Analytics solutions.  Leveraging the POWER8-based systems together with the company’s Big Data and analytics software portfolio, the solutions enable organizations to put data to work in real time. The new technologies, IBM Solution for BLU Acceleration, IBM Solution for Analytics and IBM Solution for Hadoop, are optimized for IBM’s new Power Systems to deliver quick insights on both structured and unstructured data. According to industry benchmark results, the IBM Power Systems are capable of analyzing data 50 times faster than the latest x86-based systems.

After committing $1 billion last year for new Linux and other open source developments IBM announced two Linux developments that fortify rapid cloud innovation on POWER8 systems: Canonical's Ubuntu Sever for POWER8 systems, and the introduction of Power KVM, a Power Systems-compatible version of the popular Linux-based virtualization tool KVM, on all POWER8 systems that run Linux exclusively. This complements the existing support by IBM for Red Hat and SUSE Linux operating system distributions on its complete lineup of Power Systems.

New IBM Power Systems S-Class servers are meant for large, scale-out computing environments where servers operate at higher than average server utilization rates, guaranteeing a sustained system utilization for a broad range of demanding workloads. Running Linux exclusively the new Power Systems S812L and S822L servers will be available June 10. The three additional offerings, the Power Systems S814, S822 and S824 servers, provide clients the choice of running multiple operating systems including Linux, AIX and IBM i.

New Open Innovations and Roadmap

At the Open Innovation Summit the OpenPOWER Foundation took its first steps to deliver transformative system designs based on IBM’s new POWER8 processor. With the IBM POWER architecture serving as the base, the OpenPOWER Foundation computing platform represents 25 global technology providers, including Google, NVIDIA, Mellanox, and Tyan.

The group announced an innovation roadmap detailing planned contributions from several of its members, with IBM's Power Systems as the first servers to exploit OpenPOWER technology. The Foundation showed the first reference board and OEM systems, and innovations including many forms of acceleration, advanced memory and networking. OpenPOWER has grown to more than two dozen members including global hardware and software thought leaders. The OpenPOWER Software stack in this white box design is targeted for ease of implementation in hybrid deployments. IBM noted it will be deploying systems leveraging this OpenPOWER hardware and software stack in Softlayer later this year.

OpenPOWER also announced new ways to use POWER-based technologies to address critical big data, cloud, and application challenges facing modern data centers. An early live demonstration of these innovations will be performed at the IBM Impact 2014 Global Conference next week in Las Vegas. NVIDIA will demonstrate the first implementation of GPU acceleration with POWER technology as well as the first GPU accelerator framework for Java, showing an early 8X performance improvement on Hadoop Analytics applications. Exploiting RDMA on POWER, Mellanox will demonstrate a 10X throughput and latency improvement of Key Value Store applications.

Twenty five members have joined OpenPOWER including Canonical, Micron, Hitachi, Emulex, Fusion-IO, SK Hynix, Xilinx, Jülich Supercomputer Center, and Oregon State University.

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