IBM drops Power7+ in high-end Unix servers

The Power7+ is coming first to IBM's Power 770 and 780 systems, and runs at a maximum of 4.4GHz

By , IDG News Service |  Hardware

IBM is also introducing a new memory compression accelerator that can "make a 32GB system look like a 48GB or 64GB system," Sharma said. That can help reduce memory costs for customers, but there's a trade-off in increased latency as data is decompressed for use.

With the Power7+, IBM has also doubled the number of virtual machines customers can run on each processor core, to 10 VMs. While customers might not want that many virtual machines for production use, developers can use them for jobs like compiling code, Sharma said.

Another feature that's been discussed with the Power7+ -- the ability to put two processors in one socket -- also isn't available yet. The DCM, or Dual Chip Module, effectively increases the operations per second that customers get from each socket, with the trade-off that the cores run at lower clock speeds.

It's not being offered for the high-end Power systems machines, however. "It's partly that there is a little bit more work to do, and partly it's the class of systems where we want to use that capability," Sharma said. He wouldn't give details but implied the technology is destined for midrange or lower-end systems like the Power 740 and 750.

IBM offers a sort of "compute on demand" scheme for its Power systems, through which customers can pay to activate additional processor cores for a few weeks or months, such as during the holiday shopping season, then disable again them afterwards.

It's running a "special offer" for customers who buy a new 780 or 795 system. For each processor that ships with the server, they get 15 days of additional processing for free. So if a customer buys a Power 780 system with 16 cores enabled, they also get 15 days when they can turn on an additional 16 cores.

It's also introducing a concept called Power System Pools, which lets customers use those 15 days -- and any other compute days they purchase -- across up to 10 different 780 or 795 servers. Essentially it gives customers more flexibility in how they allocate their processor resources, and, IBM hopes, makes them a bit more likely to choose IBM.

IBM doesn't usually publish prices for such high-end systems but the faster chips will come in at about the same price point as their predecessors, Sharma said. It will offer slightly better pricing on the Power 780 because it would prefer more customers bought its higher-end systems, he said.

James Niccolai covers data centers and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow James on Twitter at @jniccolai. James's e-mail address is james_niccolai@idg.com

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