IBM Cuts Core And Memory Pricing On Entry Power Iron
November 14, 2016 Timothy Prickett Morgan
We are always trying to get IBM to do more to promote the IBM i platform and the Power Systems hardware that comprises the physical part of that platform. In days gone by, Big Blue used to make very public and loud pronouncements regarding its ability to bring customers more value for the dollar, often above and beyond the Moore’s Law capacity increases that are just part of the chip business and usually at the tail end of the product cycle as we are now with the Power8 machines that have been shipping since April 2014.
IBM is not as vocal as it used to be, but that does not mean it is not wheeling and dealing, and we have caught wind of a special promotion aimed at Power Systems customers that, like other changes that were part of the October 11 announcements where memory and disk pricing was reduced on certain systems, will go a ways into making the current Power8 iron appealing to IBM i shops and their AIX and Linux shop brothers and sisters.
We learned of the Double Up Core and Memory promotion from some business partners, and as it turns out, this deal went into effect back on September 14, precisely two months ago. (We would have told you earlier, but we didn’t know about it.) The deal was buried in a presentation for business partners peddling Power Systems iron, thus:
The deal to offer double the cores and double the memory on entry–what IBM calls scale out–Power Systems machines was a bit vague, but intriguing, so we did a little more hunting and came across this:
An RPQ, if you are not acquainted with the IT vendor lingo, is a Request for Price Quote and it usually relates to a special modification on an existing system in the vendor’s catalog. IBM also has what it called PRPQs, short for Programming Request For Price Quote additions to the catalog, which is for special tweaks to the operating system, database, or other systems software (such as making the database scale across more cores than in the standard release, to give one example). The thing about RPQs and PRPQs is that they do not have the normal announcement process and you have to know something is there to know you are eligible for it. It is something that the business partner trying to close the deal can whip out to sweeten the deal, but the customer doesn’t know is something anyone could get if they just knew about it and had the reseller acquire the hardware or the software modification under these special rules.
As you can see, IBM has two different RPQ deals, one aimed at the single-socket, four-core Power S814 server and another based on the variant of the Power S814 that supports six cores. With the four-core system, IBM is tossing in two cores and 32 GB of memory for free. The processor card, feature EXP0, which has a Power8 chip running at 3.03 GHz, costs $1,940 on this machine, as we detailed when it launched back in June 2014, and processor activations cost $360 a pop. A 16 GB memory feature code (which is a pair of 8 GB sticks) on the Power S814 costs $1,250 using DDR3 memory, and we presume IBM wants to unload this older memory now that it has new DDR4 memory available in the Power Systems iron. So the aggregate value of the deal is $1,970. Against a machine that might cost $20,000, that works out to a 10 percent discount, and when you toss in cheaper disk storage, the cost can come down further. We wish IBM would offer discounts on IBM i itself and do everything in its power to get customers of the IBM i midrange platform all on a current 7.X release of the software stack.
On the six-core Power S814 machine, the processor card and the core activations cost the same per unit, and so does the memory. (The clock speed on the processor is the same at 3.03 GHz, too.) So the value of the Double Up Memory and Cores RPQ deal is $3,850, and probably around the same 10 percent discount off a configured (and yet beefier) system.
The freebie memory and cores are not, by the way, available on the eight-core variant of the Power S814 system. That machine’s processor card costs $4,790, way more expensive than the lower bin four-core and six-core parts. The cores on this feature EXP6 processor card also spin at 3.72 GHz, which makes the underlying card and the cores more valuable. But the price hike is a lot more than the incremental performance. Core activations on the eight-core processor cost twice as much, at $720 a pop. The memory costs the same. So if IBM did have a deal for the eight-core Power S814 machine, it would deliver eight cores and 128 GB of memory. Presuming this machine was configured with two 64 GB memory features, the value of four free cores would be $2,880 and the value of 64 GB of memory would be $4,250, for a grand total of $7,130. But again, IBM is not offering such an RPQ deal.
Maybe you can have IBM craft you an iRPQ? That’s for an individual RPQ, one made just for you.