IBM's New Unix Server Sports 256 Cores

by David Needle

Big Blue Releases its biggest Unix Server yet, a Power7 system that boasts record transaction performance.

More on Unix server

Take that Oracle.

IBM (NYSE: IBM) today released major additions to its server line based on the company's latest Power7 processor including a 256-core Unix system it says easily trumps competitive systems from Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) and HP (NYSE: HPQ).

After finally acquiring Sun Microsystems, Oracle launched an aggressive marketing campaign for its high-end servers that claimed the systems vastly outperformed comparable IBM systems and used far less energy. IBM disputed Oracle's claims on a company website, but now can make an even more emphatic claim of top performance.

IBM said its new Power7 systems have scored the highest ever TPC-C (transaction processing) benchmark using a Power Systems configuration running IBM's DB2 database.

According to IBM, the results of 10,366,254 transactions per minute, beat HP's best performance by more than 153 percent and Oracle's best result by more than 35 percent. IBM also claims its systems are 40 percent less expensive than Oracles' and half the cost of a comparable HP solution.

Steve Sibley, worldwide marketing manager for IBM's Power systems, said the release comes during a period of "the biggest shift in spending we've seen in some time," for IT equipment and services. "A lot of clients have been interested in systems at the low and high end and have been waiting for these new systems to become available."

At the high end, IBM has released the IBM Power 795 system with 256-cores running AIX 7, a new version of the company's Unix variant. The new system supports up to 8 terabytes of memory and easily trumps IBM's earlier Power 595 system based on Power6, with over four times the performance while using the same amount of energy.

The release of AIX 7 comes at a time when IBM's Unix business is on a roll. The company now commands 41 percent of spending on Unix systems, according to research firm IDC. "Sun in the past, before the Oracle acquisition, was more successful at the low end, but their volumes have come down," said Sibley.

He also noted that IBM is making it easier for enterprises running earlier versions of AIX to migrate to AIX 7 systems by letting them continue to run their established workloads in a virtual partition. "This lets clients migrate quicker without all the validation testing they had to do in the past," he said.

IBM also released four Power7-based, entry-level servers it said are designed for specifically for midsized businesses with prices starting at less than $6,500.

A "Smart Analytics System" based on Power7 was also unveiled. IBM said the analytics system is designed to help give businesses access to real-time information on the "massive amounts of data" the system's process.

David Needle is the West Coast bureau chief at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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This article was originally published on Tuesday Aug 17th 2010
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