Since IBM has now sold off its System x division to Lenovo, it has left more room to focus on the POWER and Mainframe brand of servers. IBM can target the Intel X86 Market with their Scale out Power Systems and continue to build market share over Oracle Sparc and HP Unix Systems.
Earlier this year IBM Introduced the Power 8 ‘Scale-out’ systems. Ranging from 4 cores all the way up to 24 in the Power 8 S824 these were the entry level systems, so to speak. Recently in mid-October the 2nd chapter of the Power 8 Portfolio was announced, The Enterprise Power 8 E870 and E880.
The goal was to deliver somewhere between 35 and 40 percent more performance at roughly the same price as the Power 770+ and Power 780+ systems that they replace, keeping practicality and cost top of mind.
Previously the 770 system had 1-4 nodes with the system service processors and smarts built into each node. The E870 comes in two flavours and have either one or two nodes plus the system control unit to keep the processor clocks all synchronized. This system control unit (which consumes 2 RU in the rack) is technology that has been adopted from IBM’s high end, mainframe-like, 795 System.
The E870 machine uses an eight-core single-chip version of the Power8 processor running at 4.02 GHz and can scale up to eight sockets. This means 64 Cores when fully maxed out. Next up the ladder is the slightly faster 4.19GHZ ten-core Power8 processor. The core count goes up by 25 percent taking the total to 80 cores in 2 nodes (+ the system control unit). The biggest difference from its processor is the 2 CEC’s vs Power 7’s 4 CEC’s. IBM is positioning the E870 as a more attractively priced enterprise option system which will support IBM AIX 6.1 and 7.1 as well as IBM i 7.1 and 7.2 operating systems. Red Hat 6.5 and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 SP3 are also available on the machines.
The Power E880, which replaces the Power 795 in IBM’s Power Systems lineup, can scale from one to four nodes and will also come in two flavours. The first uses 4.35GHZ Power8 processing, with 4 CEC’s configured. This allows up to 128 cores along with 8 TB of memory and the flagship model at this stage exists only as a statement of direction from IBM that will ship in 2015. This model will include IBM’s 12 Core Power 8 Processing taking the total to a staggering 192 Cores with up to 16TB of memory.
IBM’s indication is that the E880 systems with three or four nodes and 12 core Power8 processors will be available around mid 2015.