On October the 3rd IBM announced the 7+ generation of its POWER processors. Like previously the rollout was not across the entire existing Power 7 range but only at the top end, minus the Power 795 which IBM say that customers have not asked for more power on. For most of us, who run the systems with not so much grunt, IBM has said that they will continue the new processor rollout across the range in 2013.

The 2 IBM Servers that will get the POWER 7+ microprocessor upgrade are the Power 770 and Power 780 servers. Processor clock speed has now risen to 4.42GHz and IBM say they now have an increase of 30 – 40% on application workloads compared with previous systems.

Processor technology has gone from 45 nanometer on Power 7 to 32 nanometer on Power 7+, L3 Cache has more than doubled along with greater security with faster file encryption for the IBM AIX operating system. New memory compression on board results in no increased energy usage over previous generation POWER7 chips.

Included is IBM’s Elastic Capacity on Demand for Power Systems Pools. It enables the sharing of resources across multiple servers which can improve the availability and enhance the access to resources during planned and unplanned maintenance activities. Another feature focused around Cloud environments, using IBM PowerVM virtualisation software, customers can now more easily move individual server partitions to quickly balance resources in reaction to changing business needs. Single virtual machines can be moved three times faster and concurrent migrations can occur up to 4.7 times faster than with previous versions.


Upgrade Paths

When a new system or processor is announced, a common question we get asked at Computer Merchants is around upgrade paths and what systems qualify. IBM is offering upgrade paths from Power 6, Power 6+, and Power 7 iron into the new Power 7+ machines as per the below chart:

Do your systems not qualify for these upgrade paths?

If you are on older Power 5 and Power 5+ machines such as the Power 570 and Power 590, you are sitting just outside the Upgrade Path. IBM and Computer Merchants encourage you to compare ongoing costs with a new Power 770+ system.

An example that IBM have given is a customer with a 64-core Power 570, 1.9GHz Power 5 running at 30 percent CPU utilisation. This system can be migrated onto a Power 770+ with 4.2GHz processors with only 18 cores activated running at 60 percent CPU utilisation. This results in 50 percent more effective compute capacity, as well as cutting your energy use by 84 percent. Assuming pay per-core licenses for database software then the savings for this alone are around $1 million in database license costs and over $250,000 in maintenance costs over three years.

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