Big Blue's introduction of new enterprise servers shows it still wants to be king of the integrated systems game.
Call it Stack Wars. While competitors play tag-team, IBM on Monday reminded the market that it's been delivering tightly bundled systems on its own for years and introduced its latest weapon in the race toward fully integrated business engines—Power7-based servers.
"This is not a chip announcement," insisted Rodney Adkins, senior VP for IBM's Systems and Technology Group, at a press conference at Manhattan's opulent Mandarin Oriental hotel.
Adkins said the Power7 processor is just one part, though a key one, of a new family of IBM servers designed for a world where everything from toasters to 747s are computerized and online—and businesses will have to deal with all that data.
"Computing is becoming a lot more pervasive," said Adkins, noting IBM expects there'll be a trillion connected objects on the planet by next year. Financial institutions, healthcare providers, and other organizations will have to handle and make sense of the resulting information tsunami and will "require a new type of performance" from there hardware to do so, said Adkins.
With that, IBM unveiled four new servers built from the ground up to withstand the data demands of a world envisioned by the company's Smarter Planet campaign, where everything is connected to everything. The Power 780, Power 770, Power 755 are enterprise systems, while the Power 750 Express is for mid-market customers who don't need the horsepower and capacity of the higher-end models.
All are based on the new Power7 processor, the full specs of which might fill a phonebook. The upshot, however, is that Power7 chips can run 32 simultaneous tasks thanks to an 8-core architecture and four virtual cores, or threads, per core. That's 4-times the maximum number of cores found in Power6 systems and 8-times the number of threads.
Power7 also features TurboCore mode for intense database and transactional environments (think Wall Street). TurboCore shifts resources from non-active cores to active cores on-the-fly to increase memory, bandwidth and clock speed. Power7's "Intelligent Threads" technology also affords dynamic resource allocation depending on workloads, while Memory Expansion uses compression technology to virtually double the amount of physical memory available to an application.
"That's more memory for SAP" and other resource hungry biz apps, said Ross Mauri, general manager for IBM Power Systems, who also spoke at the heavily-attended press conference. It also means businesses can get away with a smaller hardware footprint at a time when space and energy are at a premium. "We optimized every pillar," said Mauri.
Server Market SplitsvilleJust because the server market's in the doldrums doesn't mean innovation has ceased. Far from it -- server technology is enjoying the biggest renaissance since the dawn of x86 systems. But the primary driver is now service providers, not enterprises.