Big Power7 Boxes Get Fat Memory Rebates, Too
September 10, 2012 Timothy Prickett Morgan
IBM is not just giving system-level discounts to customers who buy Power 740 Express configurations with fairly beefy main memory configurations, as we report elsewhere in this issue. The company is also giving rebates on main memory bought for larger Power 750, 770, 780, and 795 systems.
I would guess that IBM is chopping memory prices on its Power7-based midrange and high-end boxes for two reasons. First, it is charging ridiculously lower prices per gigabyte on the exact same memory modules in some cases used in its PowerLinux Linux-only machines. IBM is doing this to make the Power line more competitive with Xeon E5 alternatives running Linux. I would also hazard a guess that with the forthcoming Power7+ machines, due before the end of the year, IBM will also reduce memory prices on the Power7+ iron, given the glut of DRAM in the market and the general downward trend in memory prices. (I would not hold out much hope for huge cut in disk prices, but it could happen.)
In announcement letter 312-101, you can read all about the Power Systems Memory Rebate promotion, and I will note that there is no such deal available on Power 720 systems and that is a bit annoying given that this is the preferred box for IBM i shops. (There is a separate system-level discount available to Power 740 customers, which you can read about here.) In this promotion, customers who buy Power 750 through Power 795 systems with specific memory configurations for particular processor cards, and with specific processor activations, will get rebates on the memory features they buy. Here are the rebates, by machine and memory module type:
You’ll need a PhD in marketeering to get all this straight, so bear with me. On the Power 750 machine, you need to load up with 12 GB per Power7 core activated in the box and on the Power 770, 780, and 795 machines you need to activate 16 GB per core. This is a reasonably heavy configuration by modern server standards, but nothing too ridiculous. On the Power 750 box, all of the cores in the machine have to be active (whether you buy a processor card with Power7 chips with four, six, or eight cores) and all of the memory has to be activated, too. On the Power 770 and 780 machines, you have to have at least four cores active in the system and you have to turn on at least 50 percent of the main memory using capacity on demand features. On the Power 795, you have to activate at least 25 percent of the cores, you have to have at least 24 minimum active cores, and you must activate at least 50 percent of the main memory capacity.
The Power Systems Memory Rebate deal runs through September 30, which is the last day of IBM’s third quarter. These sales will not necessarily ship and therefore be booked in the third quarter, but they will help boost the beginning of the four quarter. If I had to guess, I would say IBM is going to try to steal some thunder from Unix rival Oracle and launch the Power7+ systems between September 30 and October 3, which is when the OpenWorld Larrypalooza will be underway. Oracle is doing system announcements on October 3, so either that day or before then is my best guess as to when IBM will pull the Power7+ trigger.