What on earth is that I hear many of you ask, don’t IBM just make big expensive mainframes?
Well indeed not, POWER10 is the latest generation of IBM’s Risc-based systems that many Enterprises trust for running their crown-jewel applications on, both on premise and in Public Cloud.
Following IBM’s announcement about the POWER10 chip at Hot Chips in August 2020, IBM formally launched the chip this month with the Enterprise E1080 server now available to order.
The chip is both in line with the market trend of Hybrid Cloud and shows IBM’s commitment in this space especially as it has been optimised for Red Hat & OpenShift and workload portability, more on this later.
Whilst Intel dominates the processor market by sheer scale, in my humble opinion they rarely offer noticeable performance per core improvements, per socket yes, by cramming more cores on, unlike IBM’s POWER processor which generation on generation has shown substantial core performance and throughput increases.
However, it’s not just speed that matters, there are functionality enhancements and outright innovation, this new IBM processor is very much focussed on improving capacity, including on-chip analytics with enhanced security and sustainability by being more energy efficient than ever before.
POWER10 is an agile platform that offers massive performance advantages for key applications such as SAP & HANA with a true focus on scale and elasticity, Hybrid Cloud capability and IBM are not stopping there, with POWER11 already in the roadmap.
So, what are the main features that come with the chip:
- POWER10 is the first IBM chip to use 7 nanometre (nm) technology. The new chip supports up to 240 cores in a single system (that’s up to 1,920 threads !!) and from a Data Centre perspective, POWER10 offers over a 50% lower carbon footprint for the same work compared to POWER8 and 33% carbon footprint improvement compared to POWER9.
- Performance, as mentioned above this follows the trend that POWER architecture continues to show the upward trajectory with up to 30% performance per core over POWER9 and up to 50% over POWER8, which still matches the fastest Intel processors for performance despite being over five years old.
- Faster, OK what does that mean? Faster responses, reduced batch times, less licenses required if licensing per core or as in our friends at the Big Red, less Software maintenance or many more environments in the same licensing envelope, it certainly adds up!
- The POWER10 processor comes with a brand-new memory architecture, OMI (Open Memory Interface) which offers both improved reliability and throughput. The new memory also offers support for multi petabyte memory clusters which IBM states will improve cloud capacity and economics for memory-intensive workloads such as Oracle and SAP.
- In this world where every enterprise fears cyber-attacks, security is a massive focus for every organisation and the new POWER10 chip comes with enhanced security capabilities, IBM have quadrupled the number of encryption engines per core. This new enhancement means that the chip will now encrypt all data in main memory to provide an added layer of security.
- Artificial Intelligence is another massive area of focus for organisations as they proceed on their digital transformation journeys and POWER10 excels in this area as well. The new processor comes with an embedded matrix math accelerator which will enhance AI Inference requests to the processor, why move data off to AI/ML platforms using expensive GPUs to try and gain insights to the data when this can now be done in flight and within the server at no extra cost and with extreme low latency.
- OpenShift – yes, we all know probably one of the main reasons IBM spent $34B on acquiring Red Hat. After all, 75% of the worlds Linux customers run Red Hat, however it goes deeper than that. Open Shift Container Platform has all the Enterprise attributes customers want for their digital transformation journey, allowing modernised workloads and containers to run anywhere, unchanged, on Public, Private Clouds or traditional on-premise landscapes. POWER10 is optimised to run up to 4 x as many Containers per core vs any Intel server or Public Cloud, that’s certainly worth shouting about!
With so many new features and improvements on the previous generations of POWER processors, it’s hard to be objective and not be biased, but congratulations for getting this far 😊
An informative high-level link is shown here but please let us know if you would like to find out more information or talk about how POWER10 can support your Hybrid Cloud journey please reach out to me or my colleagues at Logicalis.