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IBM Power10 Announcement Tom Richards, Systems and Storage Practice Lead, Northdoor plc

The moment many of us have been waiting for is finally here – IBM have officially launched their Power10 Scale out range!  Whilst IBM did release their Enterprise range back in September 2021, that announcement catered for the high-end of Power clients only.  With the release of the low and mid-range servers this month, the capability of Power10 is made available to all.

Power10 provides numerous benefits to clients, including;

  • Enhanced Security – Power10 includes 4 Cryptographic engines in every core, aimed at providing hardware acceleration to encryption operations.  Using these engines, clients can turn on memory encryption on Power10 with no performance impact to protect data whilst in-flight within the system.  Combined with encryption of data at rest, this capability significantly enhances protection against cyber threats.

 

  • Performance – Whilst we have become accustomed to performance improvement with each generation with IBM Power, it should be said that this is no mean feat.  Compared to x86 architecture where performance enhancements are mainly only being realised by throwing more cores into a server, IBM have continued to make significant progress with every generation on per core performance.

 

    • AIX – Compared to POWER9, Power10 can provide up to 39% improvement per core and compared to POWER8, up to 100% per core
    • IBM i – Compared to POWER9, Power10 can provide up to 88% improvement per core and compared to POWER8, up to 163% per core

 

  • Energy Efficiency – Despite improvements in processor performance, IBM have cited a reduction of around 1/3 in power and cooling cost, helping clients reduce their energy footprint in a time where soaring energy costs need to be controlled

What’s being announced?

With this announcement, IBM will release their 1 & 2 socket Scale Out Power10 servers which addresses the majority of the Power market by volume.  For those familiar with the server nomenclature with POWER8 and POWER9, the Power10  Scale Out range will come as no surprise with servers from the S1012 to the S1024 being released.  A brief summary is provided below:

  • S1012 – 1 socket 2U server aimed at small IBM i installations.  This server is in P05 processor group and limited to 1 core of IBM i with limited virtualisation. All processor cores and memory are active as standard

 

  • S1014 – 1 socket 4U server aimed primarily at IBM i installations.  This server replaces the S814 / S914 servers popular with IBM i for the lack of limits on LPAR size and P10 processor group.  All processor cores and memory are active as standard

 

  • S1022S – 1/2 socket 2U server with up to 16 cores.  This is a new server in the range compared to POWER9 and provides a stepping-stone in between the S1014 and S1022 in terms of processing capacity and cost.  All processor cores and memory are active as standard

 

  • S1022 – 1/2 socket 2U server with up to 40 cores providing excellent compute density for IBM i, AIX or Linux.  Compared to the comparative POWER9 S922 which had a maximum of 20 cores, the S1022 doubles the core count in the same footprint along with offering enhanced performance per core with Power10.

The maximum size of an IBM i LPAR on the S1022 is 4-cores but this will suit the majority of IBM i clients and offer a very compelling consolidation platform with a low footprint to assist with co-location charges.  The S1022 is the first in the Power10 range to move to dynamic resource activation – either through Capacity Upgrade on Demand or as part of an Enterprise Pool – more details on this are covered below.

  • S1024 – 1/2 socket 4U server aimed at Enterprise processing environments.  With up to 48-cores per server, this again doubles the core count compared to the S924 forebear.  The S1024 will be offered with up to 8TB memory per server (although only 2TB at GA), making this an ideal target for applications with large memory footprints.

 

  • L1022/L1024 – 1/2 socket 2U servers with the same layout as the S1022/S1024 above but primarily for Linux.  With the significant memory offered in the L1024, this an ideal target for applications with large memory footprints, such as SAP HANA.  IBM continues it’s close partnership with SAP and will publish certification of the L1024 with HANA as with POWER9 and POWER8.  With all ‘L’ models, IBM allow 25% of the active cores to be used for any other OS (i.e. IBM i/AIX) to allow for server consolidation.

Capacity on Demand and Enterprise Pools

As mentioned above, the servers up to the S1022S come with all processor and memory activated, allowing clients to run workload on any licensed cores.  Starting with the S0122, given the large number of cores installed, IBM are introducing dynamic capacity whereby clients can choose the number of cores they want to activate to reduce the purchase cost of the server.  This is available in two models:

  1. Capacity Upgrade on Demand (CUoD) – With this model, client can start with a number of processor cores and memory and activate additional cores or memory either permanently or temporarily on demand.  This allows for temporary increases in workload resulting from seasonal peaks or testing streams to be catered for without having to purchase that additional capacity permanently.

 

  1. Enterprise Pools 2.0 (PEP 2.0) – PEP 2.0 provides a more far more dynamic capacity option to that standard CUoD model.  Rather than each server a client owns having it’s own base processor and memory activations that are tied to the server, these activations are held globally across all servers in the estate.  This can provide significant savings in activations as the natural peaks and troughs in workloads across multiple servers have the ability to cancel each other out.  Whilst the running workload on all servers in scope does not exceed the capacity in the base pool, there is nothing to pay.  For any time that processing exceeds the capacity in the base pool, the systems automatically deduct per minute from a pot of pre-paid capacity credits.  We have had great results using this programme with the Power10 Enterprise range and will look to publish a future blog post to cover this topic in more detail.  However, if you want to find out more in the meantime, please get in touch.

Key Takeaways and where next?

Now that Power10 has been announced, a few things jump out to us:

 

  1. Performance per core jump against POWER9 and especially POWER8 is significant in most cases.  This should allow both a compelling business case in terms of license reduction as well as productivity improvement

 

  1. The reach of the Scale Out servers is impressive.  Having a Scale Out server with 48-cores very much steps on the toes of IBM’s Enterprise offering.  Clients will have the very real choice of whether they need Enterprise for the enhanced reliability and scalability or whether they were only pushed to those systems in the past based on the processing power they needed.

 

  1. IBM support for POWER8 servers is nearing the end.  Whilst it’s not yet announced, IBM released what they say is intended to be the final firmware release for POWER8 earlier this year and we expect an End of Service announcement in 2023.  Any clients on POWER8 hardware should be seriously considering options.

However, with increased server performance comes increased strain on the storage infrastructure that underpins it.  As an IBM Platinum partner specialising in both IBM Power and Storage infrastructure, we can work with you to identify any potential bottlenecks and help you put a holistic solution together that will enable you to get the most out of Power10.

We’re busy at the moment carrying our briefing sessions with our clients to help them with their Power roadmap.  If you would like to learn more about Power10 or book your session, we would love to hear from you.

IBM Power10 Info

Northdoor

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