Imagine your computer software running faster; your datacenter footprint smaller. Imagine you need less servers, software and support licenses. Imagine what your business could achieve with better performance at a lower cost. For many businesses, this dream is already a reality.

[easy-tweet tweet=”Innovation drives IBM Power Systems and collaboration from the OpenPOWER Foundation” user=”IBM” hashtags=”IBM, tech”]

Innovation drives IBM Power Systems and collaboration from the OpenPOWER Foundation to deliver business workloads and the most demanding high performance compute requirements needed for scientific and genomic research. These servers are designed to be as compute effective as a mainframe, bringing a formidable platform that revolutionises Linux workloads.

10 reasons why IBM Power and OpenPOWER rock Linux workloads

1. Innovate, innovate innovate! – The OpenPOWER Foundation

The IBM Power processor is an awesome processor – so great that tech powerhouses IBM, Google, NVIDIA, Tyan and Mellanox formed the OpenPOWER Foundation in 2013. IBM opened up the technology around the Power architecture so members could build out their own customised servers, networking and storage hardware.

Through the OpenPOWER Foundation, new innovative Linux-only Power-based servers have been created by the likes of Wistron and Mellonox, Tyan, Rackspace and Google. There are many new components such as GPUs and field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) designed and built specially for the IBM Power architecture. OpenPOWER is enabling a new Linux open ecosystem.

2. Linux all the way

Power is no longer just AIX; it’s all flavours of Linux. Linux-based software can utilise the Power platform and realise performance gains. The software only needs a recompile as a minimum to run on Linux on Power. If you then go on to tune your software to exploit the innovative enablers such as the hyper threading, GPUs and FPGAs, you can realise even greater performance. Check out how MariaDB realised 3x the performance over Linux on x86 when tested independently by Quru.

[easy-tweet tweet=”Linux-based software can utilise the Power platform and realise performance gains” user=”IBM” hashtags=”tech, linux, cloud”]

3. Hyper-threaded processor

The POWER8 processor is designed for virtualisation; the cores are multithreaded with eight threads per core. This allows for virtualisation of many workloads at the thread level, enabling increased processing ability with linear performance. The POWER8 multithreading makes it easy to realise over 2.5x the performance, with no tuning! It’s like changing the processor core into an eight lane highway, rather than having a slow single track road to mosey along. Check out my performance blog for more.

4. GPUs

Imagine a card you can add to into your computer architecture to massively increase the number of cores you can access. That’s the beauty of GPUs. The GPU virtual cores are ideal for processing compute intensive workloads.

Thanks to the OpenPOWER Foundation, the NVIDIA GPUs enable compute intensive workloads and are now also able to handle those same loads even when faced with high bandwidth requirements such as big data. With the new NVLink technology from NVIDIA, businesses can redefine how they handle compute and big i/o.

It is so cool when innovation brings components like NVIDIA Cards and NVLink to solve and make light work of hungry Hadoop and analytics workloads.

5. FPGAs and CAPI

FPGAs are among my favourite innovations. I love that a programmable card can be configured specifically for your workload. You instruct the FPGA with the most efficient way to process your compute needs, and then you can reduce the number of instructions, movement of data, and so forth. This can increase your workloads’ performance by the thousands. FPGAs are perfect for machine learning algorithms, situations where the processing is compute heavy. Think visual recognition and surveillance applications. Using FPGA’s with IBM’s CAPI technology removes the overhead and complexity of the I/O sub system, giving you even greater performance.

6. Cache & Flash

Each generation of cache has seen architecture changes to bring innovation and greater performance. Having access to more cache means memory-intensive applications will perform better as memory latency is reduced, but the data within it is available to be processed immediately with no waiting time for retrieval. POWER8 comes with a new Level 4 (L4) cache, boasting 128MB – unachievable by x86. There is also plenty of cache in L1, L2 and L3 – Power Systems significantly beats any other server it competes with.

[easy-tweet tweet=”Each generation of cache has seen architecture changes to bring innovation and greater performance.” hashtags=”tech, compute, cache”]

Cache can be complemented with storage. Let’s look at flash storage, which is nearly as fast as cache. Adding 75TB of IBM Flash Storage will absolutely rock your data response times.

7. Bandwidth

Bandwidth, or the i/o subsystem, may not sound like a thrill. But this is what moves data around quickly, and when you have data-hungry applications like data warehousing and analytics applications, the POWER8 i/o will deliver significantly greater performance and scalability. The actual i/o speed is 230-410GB/sec, which when compared to Intel Haswell, we’re looking at an average of 6x faster.

8. Footprint & Cost

With all the innovation and ability to run mixed highly virtualised workloads and all-around awesome performance, Power Systems are a dream-come-true for the datacentre. These servers easily halve the number of processors required, yet deliver increased performance for more demanding workloads.

The bottom line? You need fewer servers, and in every TCO study I have seen comparing POWER8 with x86, both the initial and three-year costs for both commercial and Open Source (with Enterprise Support Licenses) is less for POWER8, including the server price. POWER8 servers continue to amaze me – the price for compute is much lower, and that’s what matters.

9. Reliability, Availability, Security or RAS

All essential requirements for servers have been traditionally associated as being on the leading edge for Unix system on Power. In the same way, these capabilities are available for Linux when running on POWER8. Check out what SUSE say.

10. Ecosystem

There is a lot of software, both commercial and open source, that has been officially ported to Linux on Power, and there is now a waterfall of vendors moving to the platform. Customers are adopting it as it delivers value and enables their businesses on premise and in the cloud. Here is one who realised 25 times greater performance gain.

“Porting was easier than expected” – Robert Love, Google

If you haven’t checked it out, you’re behind your competition. Now is a great time to get your Linux ported to POWER8 and OpenPOWER.