Volume 19, Number 20 -- May 24, 2010

Power7 Blades Plus i Versus X64 Blades Plus Windows

Published: May 24, 2010

by Timothy Prickett Morgan

The price/performance saga continues, and in this week's issue of The Four Hundred, we pit the new Power7-based Power Systems 700, 701, and 702 servers against their rough equivalents in the X64 blade server world. Two weeks ago, when I fixed an error I had discovered with the PS701 blade configurations, I showed you that the Power7 blades were a mixed bag, with the entry i blades able to hold their own against IBM's AIX on the same hardware and configured with the Oracle 11g R2 Standard Edition One entry database.

As I moved up to the PS701 and PS702 blades, beefing up the configurations to support more users in a balanced way, then the comparisons with the AIX-Oracle combo got worse and worse, mainly because IBM's license charges for i 6.1 or i 7.1 are very much out of whack with the pricing for AIX and Oracle. (I used named user configurations for Oracle, which is the closest thing you can do to the per-user charge IBM has for i 6.1 or i 7.1 and its integrated relational database management system.)

As the i-AIX comparison table showed (which you can jump here to see), the i premium is around 10 percent on the PS700, and rises as the machine gets more users, until you are in the 18 to 26 percent range for machines configured with 40 or 150 users. (These are the bands IBM used for user-based pricing with i5/OS. I didn't just pull 10, 20, 30, 40, 80, 150, and 300 from nowhere in these comparisons.) As you get into the heavier PS701 configurations--this is the single-socket server that can have all of its eight-cores activated and that has 16 memory slots, unlike the PS700, which is a single-socket machine with only half the cores and memory slots--the machines get close to double in price, mainly because IBM seems to think $14,995 per core is a good price for i 6.1 or i 7.1. Based on the AIX-Oracle competition, which costs half to one-third as much on the PS701 and PS702 blades (the latter being the double-wide, two-socket blade using Power7 processors and packing 16 cores in a two-fisted punch), I would say this was a bad assumption for Big Blue to make.

On Friday night, to bring this issue of The Four Hundred on home, I whipped up some new comparisons, pitting the Xeon-based ProLiant BL280c G6 and BL460c G6 blade servers running Microsoft's Windows stack and VMware's vSphere 4.0 virtualization. This is the comparison that matters as far as the 21st Century midrange is concerned, with Windows being the dominant platform--and by far--among small and medium businesses. And guess what?

The Windows stack on similarly powered Xeon blades--that's Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard, SQL Server 2008 R2 Standard, and vSphere 4.0 Advanced--is freakily, weirdly, sychronicitously in phase with the AIX-Oracle SEO pricing on the Power7 blades.

It's disconcerting how close it is, in fact, which you can see in this week's monster table comparing PS7XX blades running i against ProLiants running Windows. This is particularly true for the PS700 and lighter PS701 configurations, where Windows and AIX seem to be in lockstep. But as the Power and Xeon machines get beefed up, the disparity between all three platforms--i, AIX, and Windows--grows. And that is because Windows is priced per server and incremental processing capacity from Intel is relatively cheap, and so is the price of DDR3 main memory on X64 iron.

In the comparisons I put together, both the Power and Xeon blade configurations include a blade chassis--the BladeCenter S for the IBM boxes and the c3000 chassis for the HP boxes. Both setups have an LTO-3 tape blade (which are crazy expensive), two on-blade disk drives, and external SAS-based disk arrays on blades that slide into chassis. I wanted to look at base hardware and software costs, so I took out maintenance on the hardware and software stack. I had to pick some pretty geared down Xeon chips to get something close to a single-core of Power7 oomph, but I think the comparisons are about as fair as anyone can do. I have tried to reckon what the transactions per minute (TPM) ratings would be for all of the configurations if they ran the TPC-C online transaction processing benchmark test and then converted this to CPW ratings on the HP machines; on the Power-i blades, I went in the other direction, starting with actual or estimated CPW ratings and converting to TPM. The premium for the Power-i setups is based on per user differences, not per TPM differences, and believe me, this is a kinder and gentler comparison. (IBM tuned the hell out of the AIX boxes, showing a ridiculously higher throughput than it can get on the same iron running i. And I don't think, as I have said many times, this is something inherent in the DB2 for i database relative to Oracle 11g or DB2 V9.7.)

As I said in the prior story in this series, if you have modest CPW and memory needs and you don't want to lay out a lot of cash, the two-year-old JS12 blade is tough to beat because IBM tossed in the i 6.1 license for free. While the new PS700 blade in a light or modest configuration can meet the JS12 blade, on a per-user basis for a similar number of users, the JS12 wins hands down, user for user. That's not in these comparisons, but it is important to keep that in mind as you are shopping.

Have fun checking out the table, and I will start doing other comparisons as soon as I can get data on all the new servers out there. There is lots of very cool midrange iron out there, but not all of it is shipping yet.


Let's Take Another Stab at Power7 Blade Bang for the Buck

Power7 Blades: The i/DB2 Combo Versus AIX/Oracle

Stacking Up New Power7 Against Power6/6+ Blades

IBM's Power7 Blades Pack a CPW Punch

IBM Peddles Baby BladeCenter PS700 Express Blade Box

IBM Officially Announces i/OS 7.1

IBM Holds i 6.1 Prices Steady, Slashes Application Server Fees

i 7.1 Due April 14, with Open Access for RPG, Other Goodies

The Power7 Systems Sales Pitch

i/OS Gets Short Sheeted with Power7 Thread Counts

The System iWant, 2010 Edition: Clustered Boxes

IBM Fired Up About Power7-Based Smarter Systems

A Little Insight Into the Rest of the Power7 Lineup

Power7: Yields Are Good, Midrange Systems A Go

The Power7 Rollout Begins In The Middle

The System iWant, 2010 Edition: Blade and Cookie Sheet Boxes

The System iWant, 2010 Edition: Entry Boxes

The System iWant, 2010 Edition: Midrange Boxes

IBM Preps Power7 Launch For February

Looks Like i 7.1 Is Coming In April

The System iWant, 2010 Edition: Big Boxes

Power Systems i: The Word From On High

Power Systems i: The Windows Conundrum

Power Systems i: Serve's Up

Power Systems i: Thinking Inside the Box

Rolling Thunder Rollout for Power7 Processors Next Year

IBM Rolls Up an i 6.1.1 Dot Release

The Curtain Rises a Bit on the Next i OS, Due in 2010

Start Planning for Power7 Iron Now

IBM to Reveal Power7 Secrets at Hot Chips

Power 7: Lots of Cores, Lots of Threads

                     Post this story to
               Post this story to Digg
    Post this story to Slashdot

Sponsored By


Template Based Compliance Management for iSeries

Join us on May 26th for a webinar that demystifies
the difficult task of enterprise-wide compliance management
and deviation monitoring with easily defined templates
that address regulatory requirements such as
PCI, SOX, HIPAA and GLBA with the click of a mouse!

REGISTER NOW! (201) 503-0021

Editor: Timothy Prickett Morgan
Contributing Editors: Dan Burger, Joe Hertvik, Brian Kelly, Shannon O'Donnell,
Mary Lou Roberts, Victor Rozek, Kevin Vandever, Hesh Wiener, Alex Woodie
Publisher and Advertising Director: Jenny Thomas
Advertising Sales Representative: Kim Reed
Contact the Editors: To contact anyone on the IT Jungle Team
Go to our contacts page and send us a message.

Sponsored Links

IBS:  Free e-book: The Six Margin Killers in Wholesale Distribution
WorksRight Software:  ZIP codes, area codes, Canadian postal codes, CASS certification, and more
COMMON:  Join us at the Fall 2010 Conference & Expo, Oct. 4 - 6, in San Antonio, Texas



IT Jungle Store Top Book Picks

Easy Steps to Internet Programming for AS/400, iSeries, and System i: List Price, $49.95
The iSeries Express Web Implementer's Guide: List Price, $49.95
The System i RPG & RPG IV Tutorial and Lab Exercises: List Price, $59.95
The System i Pocket RPG & RPG IV Guide: List Price, $69.95
The iSeries Pocket Database Guide: List Price, $59.00
The iSeries Pocket SQL Guide: List Price, $59.00
The iSeries Pocket Query Guide: List Price, $49.00
The iSeries Pocket WebFacing Primer: List Price, $39.00
Migrating to WebSphere Express for iSeries: List Price, $49.00
Getting Started With WebSphere Development Studio Client for iSeries: List Price, $89.00
Getting Started with WebSphere Express for iSeries: List Price, $49.00
Can the AS/400 Survive IBM?: List Price, $49.00
Chip Wars: List Price, $29.95

Four Hundred Stuff
Vision to Buy Double-Take for $242 Million

Trader's Gets Serious About North American HA Market

BCD Invigorates Software for Application Development, Portal, and Query

Seagull Likes RPG Open Access for SOA

m-Power Gets Pivot Tables

Four Hundred Guru
Low Risk Authority Changes

Prompt and Submit CL Commands

Admin Alert: CBU Product License Keys Can and Will Suddenly Expire

Four Hundred Monitor
Four Hundred Monitor's
Full iSeries Events Calendar

System i PTF Guide
May 15, 2010: Volume 12, Number 20

May 8, 2010: Volume 12, Number 19

May 1, 2010: Volume 12, Number 18

April 24, 2010: Volume 12, Number 17

April 17, 2010: Volume 12, Number 16

April 10, 2010: Volume 12, Number 15

TPM at The Register
Oracle shows off M9000s for data warehousing

Server rebound, Perot services boost Dell

NOAA goes to Cray for climate super

Cisco shells out $99m for CoreOptics

Oracle punts first VirtualBox x64 hypervisor

Novell seeks rich suitors

Oracle sneaks out carrier grade Sparc blade, Xeon rack

SUSE Linux 11 gets first service pack

IBM punts commercial Hadoop distro

HP profits up 28% on freshened servers

Intel: best days are ahead

Vision Solutions does a Double-Take


Bsafe Information Systems
Profound Logic Software
Linoma Software
Botz & Associates, Inc.

Printer Friendly Version

Power7 Blades Plus i Versus X64 Blades Plus Windows

Transitions Push Systems and Technology Group into the Red

AS/400 LUG Shares Chief i Architect's "Why i?" Arguments

Creativity Is the New Business Kool-Aid, IBM CEO Study Finds

IBM Emphasizes 'Deeper Skills' in New Business Partner Program

But Wait, There's More:

IBM Slashes 5250 Enablement Prices, Other Power Systems Tweaks . . . IBM Offers Discounts on Education Pack Training Through August . . . Business Intelligence and Analytics Were Bright Spots Last Year . . . BluePhoenix and Veryant Partner Up for COBOL Modernization . . . Catch the Wave: OCEAN Hosts 17th Annual User Group Meeting . . .

The Four Hundred


Subscription Information:
You can unsubscribe, change your email address, or sign up for any of IT Jungle's free e-newsletters through our Web site at

Copyright © 1996-2010 Guild Companies, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Guild Companies, Inc., 50 Park Terrace East, Suite 8F, New York, NY 10034

Privacy Statement