IBM Expands POWER7-Based Server Line


IBM on Tuesday expanded its POWER7 RISC processor-based server lineup with two new blade servers, a new management appliance, four new faster processors, and more virtualization capability.

The company also previewed a new POWER7-based supercomputer which is expected to offer up to 80 teraflops of pea performance per rack.

The enhancements come about a year after IBM expanded its eight-core POWER7 processor across a full range of entry-level to enterprise servers, said Steve Sibley, program director for worldwide management of POWER systems.

"This year, we're making a more targeted release," Sibley said.

IBM on Tuesday unveiled two new POWER7 blade servers which, with the three it released last year, give it a total of five POWER7 blades, Sibley said.

They include the IBM BladeCenter PS703, a two-socket, 16-processor-core single-width blade server, and the IBM BladeCenter PS714, a four-socket, 32-core double-width blade.

The PS703 is similar to IBM's older PS701, except that it has two processor sockets vs. the one socket of the PS701, Sibley said. The PS704 is similar to the PS702 except it has four processor sockets vs. two for the older model.

The PS701 and PS702 remain in production, as does the PS700, a one-socket blade which uses a four-core version of the POWER7 processor.

The PS700, PS701, and PS702 all feature 3.0-GHz POWER7 processors vs. the 2.4-GHz processors in the PS702 and PS703, Sibley said. "The PS702 and PS703 are more scalable, but a little slower because of the increased need to keep cool," he said.

IBM also combined its System Director management software with a server blade to form a new management appliance that fits in the BladeCenter chassis, Sibley said.

Also new is a 10 percent boost in the processor frequency used in IBM's Power 750 Express servers. "This is the system used in the Watson Jeopardy! challenge," he said, referring to an IBM-built computer system which defeated two of the best players of the Jeopardy! game show.

IBM is also expanding the number of LPARs (logical partitions, or virtual machines) which can be managed on a single POWER7-based server to up to 1,000 on a Power 795 or up to 640 on a Power 770 or Power 780. The energy consumption of individual virtual machines can also be set independently, depending on the workload, he said.

The company is also adding new SSD options to its POWER7 servers, as well as a new direct-attach storage drawer which fits up to 24 small form factor hard drives in a 2U space.

Sibley also previewed an upcoming supercomputer to be based on the Power 775 server which puts up to 256 server cores in a 2U node and up to 10 nodes in a proprietary IBM rack. Each rack of servers offers up to 80 teraflops of performance. The supercomputer is cooled via copper pipes which circulate water to each processor.

IBM is not ready to disclose the actual release date of the supercomputer, but Sibley said it will likely be in 2011.