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IBM chases Intel with new Power-based Linux servers sold over the Web

James Niccolai | Oct. 9, 2015
The servers are aimed at scale-out and cloud deployments running big data workloads.

It's not chasing the entire Linux market, but the place where it thinks it can differentiate itself. Power processors are well suited for analyzing big data because of the high memory bandwidth they support and the high number of processor threads per core.

There are three new systems. The S812LC is a one-socket, 2U system, equipped with up to 10 processor cores, 1TB of memory, 115GB/s memory bandwidth, and up to 14 disk drives. It starts at under US$7,000, though a fully loaded system will be considerably more. 

There are also two 2-socket systems. The S822LC, for commercial and HPC workloads, has up to 20 cores and 230GB/sec of memory bandwidth. The S822LC is aimed squarely at HPC customers and packs two of Nvidia's Tesla K80 GPU accelerators. More information about pricing and specs is here.

Now that IBM has sold its own x86 server business to Lenovo, its happy to talk trash about that architecture. It claims the S812LC can run almost twice the number of Spark workloads as a similarly configured system based on an Intel Xeon E5 processor -- though that's based on internal IBM tests, which have to be taken with a grain of salt.

In addition, clients running their Linux applications on x86 would have to port them to Power -- an easier task now that the processors support little endian Linux, the same as x86 -- then also tune them to get the most out of the chip's multithreading.

Still, it may prove worth the effort for some workloads, and IBM is stirring up the market for scale-out Linux servers, giving customers some more leverage with their x86 suppliers.

 

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