With An Eye On Accelerated Computing, IBM Expands Power-Based Server, Processor Line

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IBM Power Servers


IBM Thursday expanded its Power-based processor and server line with new models featuring tight integration between processors and GPUs targeting big data, artificial intelligence and other high-performance workloads.

The new servers are led by a model featuring a version of the Power8 processor that includes a proprietary connector to the latest Nvidia graphics processing unit, or GPU, said Sumit Gupta, IBM's vice president of higher- performance computing and data analytics.

The new servers, with a starting price of about $4,000 including two Power8 processors, show that Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM is looking beyond the standard x86 architecture to manage modern, high-performance Linux-based workloads, Gupta told CRN.

[Related: IBM Ups All-Flash Storage Ante With Focus On Cloud, Quality Of Service]

"IBM believes the future of the data center and computing is in accelerated computing, including GPUs, flash storage and high-speed networking," he said. "That's the three pillars to acceleration in the data center."

IBM is upping the ante in the performance server market with the introduction of a new version of its Power8 processor featuring PowerAccel interconnects. With PowerAccel, the processor features CAPI, or Coherent Accelerator Processor Interface, which lets developers create custom processing engines for their solutions.

PowerAccel also includes NVLink, a connector designed in conjunction with Santa Clara, Calif.-based GPU developer Nvidia. NVLink is a proprietary interconnect that connects the Power8 processor with Nvidia Tesla P100 Pascal GPUs with bandwidth five times that of PCIe, Gupta said.

"This overcomes performance and reliability roadblocks, and lets the GPU get data from memory faster," he said. "NVLink also makes CPU memory and GPU memory act as if they are the same."

IBM also unveiled a new server, the S822LC for High-Performance Computing, featuring two Power8 processors with NVLink, up to 1 TB of memory and up to four integrated Nvidia Pascal GPUs. The server also includes three CAPI-enabled PCIe slots.

Also new Thursday is the S822LC for Big Data, which includes up to two Power8 processors without NVLink. This server has a maximum of 512 GB of memory and five PCIe slots of which four are CAP-enabled. Up to two Nvidia K80 GPUs can be installed.

IBM also introduced the S821LC, which fits two Power8 processors and 512 GB of memory into a 1U chassis. It can be configured with one Nvidia K80 GPU.

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