Volume 8, Number 18 -- May 8, 2008

Power Systems: The Feeds and Speeds

Published: May 8, 2008

by Timothy Prickett Morgan

This week, IBM begins shipping the new Power6-based Power 570 and Power 595 servers that support the i, AIX, and Linux operating systems. And Big Blue is in the process of ramping up sales of the entry Power 520, which started selling in AIX and Linux edition in late January and which started shipping in i Editions on April 18, and midrange Power 550 servers, which also shipped earlier this year in an AIX and Linux Edition and which will hit the streets in an i Edition on May 23.

Of course, IBM is also shipping the JS12 and JS22 Power6-based blade servers, which can support the new i 6.1 operating system, formerly known as i5/OS V5R5 for a while and then i5/OS V6R1 when it was announced in January for shipment on March 21. The JS12 and JS22 blade servers require the Virtual I/O server to support i 6.1, and this requires a lot of steps according to the business partners I have talked to--steps that AS/400, iSeries, and System i shops are not used to. The Power6 blades do not support i5/OS V5R4, which came out with Power5+ iron, or even the tweaked version, V5R4M5, which was launched last year so IBM could get a Power6 570 machine out the door that could support RPG and COBOL workloads and run i5/OS and DB2 for i5/OS.

The trouble is, not all of the information about these machines is in one place, despite the Power Systems merger. And I can tell you right now, not all the data is yet available to many end users, even if it is available to Arrow Electronics and Avnet, IBM's two master server resellers, and is making its way into the hands of myriad downstream resellers who push OS/400, i5/OS, and now i platforms. This makes comparison shopping difficult, of course, and that is why you keep me around. I gather up and compile data because I think it is fun, but I also know what it is like to try to figure out if a server is a good deal or not and I know what it is like to try to run an IT organization--albeit one a heck of a lot smaller than yours--on a tight budget.

To that end, I have been collecting all the information I can get my hands on about the Power Systems servers, and I have created a salient characteristics table for the new machines. I will be compiling more data to make comparisons to the prior several generations of OS/400 and i5/OS servers, and then I will go the extra few miles to compare the new i 6.1 operating system on the Power Systems machines to Windows, Unix, Linux, and mainframe alternatives.

In the table showing the Power Systems iron, items shown in red italics are estimates made by myself in the absence of data. I will update this table as more information becomes available. For instance, Commercial Performance Workload (CPW) relative performance ratings are not available on the Power 595 box, but then again, with i 6.1 not being supported on this machine until September (very likely because IBM is still tuning the operating system and maybe still adding support for features such as Live Application Mobility and Live Partition Mobility, which work with AIX), I don't expect to see CPW ratings officially until late in the summer when IBM can feel comfortable about saying how much performance this box has running RPG applications against the DB2 for i database.

Because we are now all part of one, happy Power Systems family, I have included IBM's Relative Performance (rPerf) benchmark ratings for AIX workloads in the table, too, and any other relevant benchmarks I can find that might help you make your plans to upgrade to a Power Systems box or stay in the prior System i line. My guess is that an awful lot of customers will be trying to stick with i5/OS V5R4M5 wherever possible to avoid the application conversion issues associated with i 6.1. With one exception, of course: customers who want to move to blade servers. These customers have no choice but to go to i 6.1, and because life doesn't have enough irony already, the small and midrange customers who would be most eager to go to the blade form factor because it runs on 120-volt power in the BladeCenter S chassis are the ones who are least happy about making the jump from i5/OS V5R4 to i 6.1.

A few things to bear in mind. First, the i Edition of the Power 520 and 550 machines max out at two and four Power6 cores, respectively, compared to a maximum of four or eight cores for the AIX and Linux Edition of these same machines. None of the boxes have any L3 cache memory on them, which just seems stupid, but IBM is clearly making use of Power6 chips with dud cache memories on in these boxes--and for sound economic reasons in terms of its chip business. Also, the 570-class machine starts out at two cores for the i Edition, but starts out at four cores for the AIX and Linux Edition.

Finally, for customers who are considering the JS12 and JS22 blades, look very carefully at the memory-to-processor and I/O subsystem bandwidth of the raw iron. The blades have substantially less I/O and memory bandwidth than the equivalent i Edition of the Power 520 and Power 550 machines. And those bandwidth numbers are maximum theoretical bandwidth, not actual bandwidth once you throw the Virtual I/O Server on the blade in a partition and have i 6.1 talking to this I/O software translation and virtualization layer instead of directly to the I/O devices through i5/OS microcode. Be very cognizant of the relationship between CPW ratings and your own workloads and how I/O plays into those workloads. You have to be very careful to make sure if you move to the blade servers that you do not end up I/O bound.


IBM Expands VIP to All Systems for Precision Sales

It's Official: Now We're Power Systems and i for Business

The 64-Core Power6-Based Power 595 Starts to Roll in May

And Then There Was One: The New and Improved Power 570

Power6 Chips Get i Support in New Entry and Blade Machines

Entry System p Servers Get Power6 Chips, System i Boxes Await

IBM Aims for Server Expansion in 2008, Including System i Reincarnation

A New Year, A New IBM Systems and Technology Group

IBM Creates New Power, SMB Server Divisions

                     Post this story to del.icio.us
               Post this story to Digg
    Post this story to Slashdot

Sponsored By

Vibrant is a leading source for
IBM Power Systems and Upgrades.

We offer factory refurbished systems at deep discounts off IBM's list price,
and all systems are guaranteed eligible for IBM maintenance.

Systems and upgrades are offered for the following systems:
Power6, P5, P4, RS6000, i5, AS/400 and IBM Blades


Editor: Timothy Prickett Morgan
Contributing Editors: Dan Burger, Joe Hertvik,
Shannon O'Donnell, Timothy Prickett Morgan
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

COMMON:  Join us at the annual 2009 conference, April 26 - April 30, in Reno, Nevada
Vision Solutions:  Stop the Downtime Monkeys! Try Your Luck, Win Prizes!
NowWhatJobs.net:  NowWhatJobs.net is the resource for job transitions after age 40


IT Jungle Store Top Book Picks

Getting Started with PHP for i5/OS: List Price, $59.95
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 Developers' 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
iSeries Express Web Implementer's Guide: List Price, $59.00
Getting Started with WebSphere Development Studio for iSeries: List Price, $79.95
Getting Started With WebSphere Development Studio Client for iSeries: List Price, $89.00
Getting Started with WebSphere Express for iSeries: List Price, $49.00
WebFacing Application Design and Development Guide: List Price, $55.00
Can the AS/400 Survive IBM?: List Price, $49.00
The All-Everything Machine: List Price, $29.95
Chip Wars: List Price, $29.95

The Four Hundred
IBM Previews "Blue Business" SMB System Sales Approach

Micro Focus to Acquire NetManage for $73.3 Million in Cash

Power Systems: The Feeds and Speeds

There's No i in Future, But Is There a Future in i?

IBM Cuts CPU Prices on Power5 and Power5+ Servers

The Linux Beacon
The Linux Ecosystem to More than Double to $49 Billion

IBM Goes Stateless and Cooler with iDataPlex Servers

IBM Previews "Blue Business" SMB System Sales Approach

As I See It: That Competitive Bug

Power Systems: The Feeds and Speeds

Four Hundred Stuff
GDCM Seeks to 'Defrag' the Data Center for Higher Efficiency

Bsafe Updates Security Tools for i OS

GeneXus Brings Web 2.0 Home with Version X

Terminix Overcomes Hurdle to New B2B System, Thanks to LANSA

NSPI Launches CBU as a Service Offering

Big Iron
Micro Focus to Acquire NetManage for $73.3 Million in Cash

Top Mainframe Stories From Around the Web

Chats, Webinars, Seminars, Shows, and Other Happenings

Four Hundred Guru
Accurate Program References

Replace the Contents of a Physical File That Has Triggers

Admin Alert: How to Recreate/Restore a System Distribution Directory

System i PTF Guide
May 3, 2008: Volume 10, Number 18

April 26, 2008: Volume 10, Number 17

April 19, 2008: Volume 10, Number 16

April 12, 2008: Volume 10, Number 15

April 5, 2008: Volume 10, Number 14

March 29, 2008: Volume 10, Number 13

The Windows Observer
Microsoft Withdraws Yahoo Bid, Won't Go Hostile

GDCM Seeks to 'Defrag' the Data Center for Higher Efficiency

Hey ASA: Microsoft Delivers New Automated Service Agent

The X Factor: Everybody Wants Citrix Systems?

SugarCRM Supports Smart Phones, Including Windows Mobile

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


Roaring Penguin
Vision Solutions
Canvas Systems
Guild Companies
Vibrant Technologies

Printer Friendly Version

Sun Delivers OpenSolaris Development Distro, Plus Support

AMD Revises Opteron Roadmaps, Pushes Out Rev Gs

IBM Loses Two Key Executives to Retirement--Really

GDCM Seeks to 'Defrag' the Data Center for Higher Efficiency

Power Systems: The Feeds and Speeds

But Wait, There's More:

IT Managers Are Under Pressure to Cut Costs, Says IDC . . . IBM Goes Stateless and Cooler with iDataPlex Servers . . . Avocent Adds Power Monitoring to DSView Server Management . . . Power 570 and 595 Servers to Get Hot Add and Repair for CPUs . . . SAP Profits Take a Whack as Business ByDesign Ramp Slowed . . .

The Unix Guardian


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 http://www.itjungle.com/sub/subscribe.html.

Copyright © 1996-2008 Guild Companies, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Guild Companies, Inc., 50 Park Terrace East, Suite 8F, New York, NY 10034

Privacy Statement