POWER8 and the Future

Today’s computing environment is creating a need for ever-faster Big Data processing. As your competition deploys tools with lightning-fast processing capabilities that enable better decision-making and more effective marketing and sales, are you worried that your once state-of-the-art servers will prevent your business from keeping up? Since 2004 when IBM introduced POWER5, they foresaw this emerging computing environment and developed a roadmap for meeting these new demands with its POWER servers. IBM released its POWER8 server in 2014 and will offer the POWER9 this year. We’ll cover the features of both servers in this post. Ultimately, your organization’s data-processing needs, along with its financial considerations, will determine which choice is best for you right now.

POWER8’s Financial Benefits

IBM asked Solitaire Interglobal Ltd. (SIL) to conduct research to uncover the benefits and relative costs of implementing POWER8 systems. According to SIL, the financial benefits of implementing POWER8 and POWERVM Virtualization Manager (VM) software are considerable:
  • The POWERVM software’s robust virtualization functions provide users with the ability to direct server resources to targeted processes, which results in fewer system cycles. This means lower costs in terms of staff time, hardware and software.
  • According to the research, implementing POWER8 reduced staffing levels by as much as 66 percent.
  • SIL calculated that implementation yields an average reduction in cost of ownership of 81.6 percent.
  • Lower overhead and greater efficiency can reduce resource allocation by up to 41.75 percent compared with other virtualization solutions.
  • Time is money, and the POWERVM software can reportedly be deployed three times faster than alternatives.

POWER8’s High Performance

The POWER8 was designed to enhance Big Data processing power:
  • The POWER8 features 50 percent more cores than the POWER7/7+ (12 vs. eight). It features fourth-generation simultaneous threading (SMT), compared to the POWER7/7+’s third-generation SMT and larger caching structures (at 64 KB, that’s twice the L1 data cache, twice the outstanding data cache misses and four times the translation cache). Overall, the core performance is about 1.6 times greater single-thread and about twice the maximum SMT.
  • Transactional memory is another valuable feature of the POWER8. It is a technique that allows a transaction (i.e., group of instructions) to execute speculatively and atomically, resulting in reduced programming development, better performance from legacy software with large sequential components and reduced costs for customers, given a higher SLA and fewer images and scalability.
  • The POWER8 is compatible with Linux-based InfoSphere BigInsights, a software platform designed to help firms unlock and analyze business insights hidden in large volumes of diverse data that are otherwise difficult to access. BigInsights uses several open-source projects, including Apache Hadoop. Compared with x86 Hadoop clusters, POWER8 requires 60 percent fewer nodes and boosts data processing performance by a factor of two and a half.
  • Working with the fast-processing IBM DB2 database with BLU Acceleration on the open AIX OS is much more efficient with the POWER8 than with alternatives. POWER8 produces reports and analytics up to 82 times faster at 10 times less storage space.
  • The same is true when running the Cognos BI suite on DB2 with BLU Acceleration on AIX on POWER8 vs. Intel’s Ivy Bridge. POWER8 generates 56 percent more analytic reports per hour.
  • The POWER8 also offers twice the Java performance per core for scale-out workloads as Ivy Bridge, and at a lower Total Cost of Acquisition (TCA) for scale-out cloud infrastructure. The cost of acquisition is 58 percent lower and guaranteed utilization is 65 percent, compared with the industry average of 30 to 40 percent.
  • When used in cloud deployment, the POWER8 can handle nearly three times more workload per server as x86 servers.

Enhanced Security

Another advantage to POWER8 is enhanced security in open-source and cloud computing applications. It offers enhanced security for critical business data and support for movements to mobile device enablement and significant enhancements to the entire OS and most licensed program products. POWER8’s POWERVM software platform provides integrated security at all levels: server, virtualization and OS. In tests, POWERVM saw zero common vulnerability incidences, compared with 119 for x86-compatible VMWare.

POWER9 Features

IBM’s current POWER roadmap extends beyond 2020. The POWER9, which is scheduled to be released in 2017 will offer features that will give the server compatibility with many other new, robust systems. These features include:
  • Compliance with the PCIe bus standard
  • Low latency and high data transfer rates for every device via its own dedicated point-to-point connection
  • A CAPI (Coherent Accelerator Processor Interface) that operates in the Linux environment with accelerated analytic performance. This in-memory consolidation feature allows the customer to reduce the server footprint by up to 12 times and cut the cost per user by 300 percent.
  • OpenCAPI architecture, which interconnects CPU, memory and I/O and can drastically increase server performance
These additional POWER9 features will allow users to undertake the most advanced types of computing available today:
  • High-Performance Computing (HPC) using clusters of computers
  • Genomics, the study of genes and their functions
  • Machine/Deep Learning and Artificial Intelligence. AI means using computers to mimic human intelligence. ML/DL, a subset of AI, refers to the use of computer networks to solve real-world problems by processing large volumes of data and supporting decision-making by answering binary true/false questions or extracting a numerical value of each piece of data.
  • GPU (Graphic Processing Unit) database computing, which simultaneously executes a single instruction on large volumes of data, compared with a general-purpose CPU’s typical smaller-scale instruction execution
  • In-memory analytics, a business intelligence (BI) methodology used to solve complex and time-sensitive business scenarios by increasing the speed, performance and reliability of data querying through the use of the server’s RAM and 64-bit architectures rather than 32-bit
Click here for an in-depth overview of the new POWER9 features and capabilities.

We can help you make the right choice.

Still not sure if upgrading to POWER servers is the right move or which version is the right fit for your organization? Innovative Information Solutions can help you evaluate your specific situation so that you can make an informed decision.