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IBM Revs Power7 Systems

IBM has introduced new servers based on its Power7 chip. This microprocessor, which first surfaced in 2010, is used in the company's Power 750 series of servers--the same technology used in Watson, the IBM computer that publicly trounced Jeopardy game champions in February 2011. The new products include blade servers and beefed-up Power 750 systems, all supporting AIX, IBM i, and Linux operating systems. The latest product announcements came during IBM's IT conference, Impact 2011, taking place this week in Las Vegas.

The new BladeCenter blade servers include the single-wide PS703 with two eight-core processors and the PS704, a double-wide blade with four eight-core processors. According to IBM, the PS704 delivers 60 percent faster performance with twice the number of cores while using the same amount of space and energy as previous Power7 blades.

The Power 750 Express is an upgrade to the 750 that includes a faster Power7 processor. The Power 755 system is a high-performance computing cluster node with 32 Power7 cores.

Among Power System customers is the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, which is running two IBM Power7 blades specifically to study the effect of disturbances, called gravitational waves, on black holes in space. "We are running billions of intense calculations based on Einstein's theory of relativity," said Gaurav Khanna, professor of physics at Umass Dartmouth. "Running Power7, I'm able to get results as much as eight times faster than running the same calculations on an Intel Xeon processor. Calculations that used to take a month to run are now finished in less than a week. This means that I can do eight times more science in the same timeframe than I could do before."

The announcements didn't end there. IBM also introduced a new Systems Director Management Console appliance, which allows data center administrators to control operations of Power servers and blades from a single console. This new appliance is a replacement for two products--IBM's Hardware Management Console and Integrated Virtualization Manager--each of which manages specific segments of a Power environment.

IBM also told Impact attendees about how it's integrating rack-based switch technology from BLADE Network Technologies (BNT) into its Power systems. BLADE, which was acquired by IBM late last year, specialized in products that route data and transactions to and from servers. At the time the purchase was announced, IBM said that over 50 percent of its BladeCenter customers were using products supplied by BLADE. The company plugged a recent report by The Tolly Group that said the newest switch to come out of this marriage, the BNT RackSwitch G8264, demonstrated "significant performance and energy efficiency advantages over comparable switches, including an average of 55 percent better price and performance." IBM had commissioned that report.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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