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IBM Bolsters Power7 Server Lineup

New midrange servers can run any of the more than 30,000 business applications available for AIX, Linux, or IBM i operating systems.
IBM on Tuesday continued its introduction of servers based on its new Power7 architecture with the debut of several midrange systems, including one purpose-built for data intensive business analytics applications, and a high-end system that features 250 processor cores.

The systems are Big Blue's latest salvo in its efforts to outpace rivals Hewlett-Packard and Oracle in the lucrative enterprise data center market.

The midrange boxes, the Power 710, 720, 730, and 740 systems, start at $6,385 and are aimed at mid-size companies and organizations. All are capable of running the more than 30,000 business applications available for the AIX, Linux, and IBM i operating systems. They can also, as an option, run IBM's PowerVM virtualization software.

The more robust Power 740 system is also at the heart of a configuration IBM calls Smart Analytics System 7700. The AIX-based system includes DB2 and IBM's Infosphere business analytics software. It's already in use at Roanoke, Virginia-based Advance Auto Parts, which operates more than 3,500 automotive aftermarket parts stores.

Company officials say the system enables them to analyze sales and inventory data ten-times faster than their previous analytics engine. "That insight allows us to understand what our customers are buying at specific store locations," said Bill Robinette, Advance Auto Parts' director of business Intelligence, in a statement.

At the high end, IBM said the new Power 795, which features 256 cores, yields a fivefold gain in energy efficiency compared to similar systems from HP and Sun.

That's achieved in part through IBM's EnergyScale technology, which varies processor frequency based on computing demands at any given moment. The Power 795 also supports up to 8 terabytes of memory and can run 1,000 virtual machines through PowerVM.

IBM introduced the Power7 architecture earlier this year. 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 such as those found in Wall Street trading firms.

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.

Beyond the servers introduced Tuesday, IBM's lineup of Power7-based machines now includes Power 780, Power 770, Power 755 enterprise systems, and the PS700, PS701, and PS702 BladeCenter blade systems, which feature four, eight, or 16 cores per blade.

IBM said it lured 285 customers off HP and Oracle systems in the second quarter through its Migration Factory program, which offers businesses technical assistance and other inducements to switch to IBM systems.