IBM Launches Single-Socket PowerLinux Server, Tweaks Power Systems I/O
July 16, 2012 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Big Blue is fleshing out its PowerLinux line of Linux-only servers, and last week put out a variant of the Power 730 box with a single socket and a lower price tag than the current two-socket boxes that were announced back in April along with a PowerLinux version of a two-socket Flex System node.
Last week, in announcement letter 112-119, you will see that the PowerLinux 7R1 is a single-socket server in a 2U rack-mounted server chassis. You get precisely one processor option: an eight-core Power7 chip running at 3.55 GHz with all of its cores activated to accept workloads. Main memory scale from 8 GB to 64 GB on the single processor card in the machine, and if you add a riser card you can add another 64 GB of main memory for a total of 128 GB. Memory is priced aggressively on the PowerLinux boxes at just under $29 per GB compared to around $200 per GB for regular Power Systems entry machines. (See IBM i And AIX Shops Pay A Hefty Premium Over PowerLinux Buyers for more on the price disparities.)
The PowerLinux 7R1 has six drive bays, but you can also get a three-bay variant. You can use SATA solid-state drives or SAS disks in a 2.5-inch form factor–the same drive options that are available for regular Power machines as well as the other PowerLinux boxes, but which cost roughly half as much as on plain vanilla entry Power7 machines. IBM is pairing the PowerLinux 7R1 and 7R2 machines with its EXP24S external disk enclosures and linking them to the servers through the GX++ remote I/O slots on the processor card, which are based on 20 Gb/sec InfiniBand. The 7R1 can have one such drawer. The PowerLinux 7R1 has five PCI-Express 2.0 x8 peripheral slots.
The unconfigured PowerLinux 7R1 machine costs $3,500 for the base box and the processor card with the cores all activated on the Power7 chip. You have to install the PowerVM 2.2 hypervisor on the machine (which is bundled for free) or IBM’s General Parallel File System (GPFS) if you plan to build a parallel disk cluster out of these nodes, which you most certainly can do but which you would not want to do on virtualized iron.
A configured PowerLinux 7R1 machine with 32GB of memory, two 300 GB disks, a four-port Ethernet adapter (which is new with the PowerLinux machines and which eats one of the five slots), a 1,725-watt power supply, and a license to Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 costs $13,221. This is technically known as the PowerLinux Open Source Infrastructure Services bundle, and the 16-core PowerLinux 7R2 machine with 64 GB of memory and two disks runs $19,560 using 3.3 GHz Power7 chips and $20,960 using 3.55 GHz chips.
A variant of the PowerLinux 7R1 configured to run IBM’s InfoSphere Streams stream processing software with 64 GB of memory, two disks, and licenses for RHEL and GPFS costs $20,915. A variant of the 7R1 server aimed at supporting SAP ERP applications with 64 GB, two 300 GB disks, the RHEL license, and PowerVM costs $14,139, and a bundle with 32 GB of memory, two, disks, RHEL, and PowerVM aimed at governments and educational institutions costs $13,221.
The PowerLinux 7R1 bundles starts shipping on July 20, and IBM can customize them if you want. Soon, one would hope, with a Power7+ processor and maybe some PCI-Express 3.0 peripheral slots.
In addition to launching the Power 7R1, in in announcement letter 112-121 IBM tweaked a few minor peripheral and I/O options for the Power Systems lineup.
There’s a new full-width black keyboard that has quiet-touch keys and that plugs into USB slots; it costs $79. There are new CAT5e Ethernet cables that come in 3 meter ($25), 10 meter ($45), and 25 meter ($80) lengths. There are also two new 15 meter SAS cables for supporting larger disk array configurations on Power Systems iron; these only support 3 Gb/sec SAS links instead of the 6 Gb/sec links that short cables can handle. The SAS YO cable, which links a SAS adapter to a SAS I/O enclosure, costs $1,250 for a 15 meter length and the SAS X cable, which can connect two SAS adapters to an enclosure, costs $2,400. IBM is also now putting RFID tags on servers, compute nodes, chassis, racks, and Hardware Management Consoles (HMCs) for those who want to track the physical location of their IT assets using RFID. These cost $20 a pop.