After unveiling the first POWER7+ machines in October, IBM is now adding more servers to the POWER7+ family: a new model, the 760, along with refreshed 710, 720, 730, 740 and 750 machines. The new lineup also features POWER7+ chips going into the PowerLinux 7R1, 7R2 and new PureFlex nodes based on the POWER7+ processor.
The refreshed 710, 720, 730, 740, 7R1 and 7R2 machines are set for Feb. 20 general availability. The refreshed 750 and the new 760 will GA on March 15.
The information that follows is gleaned from my participation in various IBM-hosted pre-announcement training sessions. Prior to IBM announcements, business partners are invited to attend sessions that cover the details of the announcement. IBM Power Champions also receive access to additional pre-announcement sessions. Sessions conducted over the past few weeks have covered the different operating systems that run on Power Systems servers, as well as all of the new hardware that is being announced today. Because this information is embargoed, those of us who take part in training sessions agree (by signing nondisclosure agreements) to not discuss what we learn prior to the announcement date.
One point of emphasis with today's announcement is that the new technology should deliver performance improvements across the product family. (Of course the amount of improvement varies, based on the model chosen and the workload running on it.) IBM also highlighted the pricing changes on the 710 and 730 models, which are supposed to be comparable to the pricing we might expect to see on 2U x86 servers.
As these announcements continue to roll out, it's worth noting that IBM consistently sticks to its schedule when introducing new products. Not every technology vendor is so reliable. Also keep in mind the big picture. We had POWER5, then POWER6 arrived a few years later. Now we have POWER7. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that the next versions of POWER processors are being developed as we speak, and that future generations are already in the planning stages. IBM continues to demonstrate its commitment to the platform.
The same holds true for the operating systems. Both IBM i and AIX versions have been updated every few years, with additional functionality delivered via service packs and technology levels. I don't see this development effort slowing any in the coming years.
POWER7+: The Specs
As was announced last fall, POWER7+ has 10 MB of L3 cache per core. Its memory compression engines allow for less overhead with active memory expansion, and the chip contains onboard encryption engines and random number generators.
An exciting feature of the POWER7+ machines is their capability to double the maximum number of LPARs on a frame by allowing you to allocate 0.05 of a core to an LPAR. In the "old days," with a hypothetical 1-core machine, you were limited to 10 LPARs, as each LPAR could only be assigned a minimum of 0.10 of a CPU. Now you can take your 1-core machine to 20 LPARs, with each assigned a minimum of 0.05 of a CPU. This effectively doubles the number of LPARs you can have on POWER7+ machines versus POWER7 machines. Obviously, the higher limits on memory per frame mean you can do more serious workload consolidation.
The specs for these servers are pretty impressive:
- The 710 is a 2U server with 4-, 6- or 8-core options and up to 256 GB of memory. It has five PCIe Gen2 slots and can support 160 LPARs.
- The 720 is a 4U server with 4-, 6- or 8-core options and up to 512 GB of memory. It has five PCIe Gen2 regular height slots and four PCIe half height cards, and can support up to 160 LPARs.
- The 730 is a 2U server that supports 4, 6 or 8 cores per socket, for 16 cores total. It can have up to 512 GB of memory, five PCIe Gen2 slots, and can support up to 320 LPARs.
- The 740 is a 4U 2-socket server with 6 or 8 cores per socket, for up to 16 cores total. It can have up to 1 TB of memory, five regular height PCIe Gen2 slots and four half height PCIe Gen2 slots. This machine can support up to 320 LPARs.
- The 750 is a 5U server with four sockets. With all four sockets populated, it's a 32-core machine with speeds of 3.5 GHz or 4 GHz. It has up to 1 TB of memory, six PCIe Gen2 slots and two GX++ slots, and an integrated split backplane. This machine can support up to 640 LPARs. It can be managed by either IVM or an HMC. It comes with 3 years of 24x7 maintenance coverage.
- The 760 is also a 5U server with four sockets. If fully populated with six cores per socket, it can have up to 48 cores running at 3.1GHz or 3.4GHz. It has up to 2 TB of memory, six PCIe Gen2 slots and two GX++ slots, and an integrated split backplane. This machine can support up to 960 LPARs. It must be managed by an HMC. It allows for Capacity on Demand for processors. This machine comes with three years of 24x7 maintenance coverage. Unlike the other models being announced, IBM must install this machine. The others of course can be set up by customers.
In the education I attended, IBM said the new 750 and 760 servers offer enterprise system features at express system pricing.
As a reminder, the 770 and 780 can have 4 TB and the 795 can have 16 TB of memory. In the training sessions it was often mentioned that even greater amounts of memory are available to system LPARs through the use of active memory expansion.
More Announcement News
Along with the new hardware, there are new versions of VIOS and AIX software. In addition, IBM has released a statement of direction that points to future support of AIX 5.3 with a service pack on the new servers. Service packs AIX 6.1 TL7 SP7 and AIX 6.1 TL8 SP2 will support these new servers.
Another statement of direction notes future availability of a service pack for AIX 7.1 TL0 and TL1, with a SP2 available for AIX 7.1 TL2. VIOS will require 2.2.2 to run on the new hardware.
IBM is also announcing 2-port 16 Gb Fibre Channel adapters -- a 4-port adapter with two ports of 10 Gb FCoE and two ports of 1 GbE. There's also an enhanced integrated multifunction card where the RJ45 ports are capable of running at 10 Gb. 387 GB SSD 6- and 4-pack options will be available with new server orders.
Finally, there are announcements around IBM AIX Solution Edition for Cognos on Power and IBM AIX Solution Edition for SPSS on Power.
With this announcement, the entire range of the product family (save for the 795, a POWER7 model) is ready to run POWER7+ chips. Which server are you most excited to run in your environment? What features are you looking forward to seeing in action?