Entry And Midrange Power10 Machines Coming In July
May 3, 2022 Timothy Prickett Morgan
If an IT supplier never gives a precise date for the launch of a product – and there are plenty of them that do not – then they can never be officially accused of shipping something late when the delivery date slips. But in the era of Coronavirus, all kinds of things are shipping later than expected and one of them is the entry Power Systems servers based on the Power10 processor. The other one is the midrange Power Systems machine based on the Power10.
In a pre-briefing with Steve Sibley, vice president and global offering manager for Power Systems, to go over the new IBM i 7.5 and Merlin application modernization tool that is being announced today, we pointed out that we were a bit surprised that there were no new servers as part of the Power Systems announcements.
The high-end “Denali” Power E1080 server using the Power10 chip launched last September and has been shipping in a rolling manner with progressively fatter systems as 2021 came to a close and was fully ramping as 2022 was starting, as was the plan. And as far as we knew, the entry and midrange servers were expected in an around the POWERUp 2022 event in New Orleans later this month, and maybe even a bit earlier in fact, although IBM never officially nailed it down. It did say this to resellers and partners in the wake of the Power E1080 launch last year though:
I realize fully that the statement above is a planning document, not a promise. But if you look at that chart and then read the sentence in the notes that says the Power E1080 will be “in-market for 6+ months before” the midrange and entry machines come out, the low end of that announcement spectrum for the remaining Power10 machines starts in March 2022 and goes out to infinity.
Before our call with IBM, we had been talking to a bunch of people who are hooked into Big Blue’s plans, and what we heard is that Big Blue would be now launching the Power10 entry and midrange machines in June for a shipment in late July – and specifically on July 27, which is a very precise day indeed.
Sibley did not confirm any specifics, but he did offer this comment when we asked him about all of this.
“As usual, your network of sources is pretty close,” Sibley told The Four Hundred with a laugh. “You should be thinking that an announcement in June may be slightly earlier if we are not shipping until late July. Also, we don’t generally announce hardware across quarter boundaries – sometimes, but not usually.”
Given that the Power10 chip, which we have given the nickname “Cirrus” because Big Blue did not give it a proper name, has a brand new core design and is being etched by a brand new foundry partner, Samsung, we pressed Sibley to find out if there was an issue with the Power10 chip or getting them in volume from Samsung.
“We are not having processor supply issues,” Sibley said emphatically, and there are no issues with the design, either. Sibley did not get into details, but hinted that it was other components in the system. “It’s amazing the things that affect your supply chain these days, whether it is an Ethernet card or a little bitty component. It’s not the sophisticated chips that are causing the delays.”
Not in this case, anyway. IBM has relatively low volume needs for Power10 and Samsung has huge foundries, even if Power10 is its first server chip etching. (It could hardly be more chaotic than what GlobalFoundries was with Power8 and Power9, based on the lawsuit IBM filed against GlobalFoundries last year. A lawsuit is one side of a story, of course. . . . So keep that in mind.)
We know that network interface cards and power regulators have been playing havoc with the supply of systems, and that high-end CPUs and GPUs that are in high demand, particularly among the hyperscalers and cloud builders, have limited supply because production at Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co, which makes most of the high-end chips in the world these days, is tight and current customer demand is exceeding planned for supply. And that situation is probably not going to change until next year – or later.
Given all of this, our guess is that IBM wants to introduce the entry and midrange Power10 servers right after the American July 4th holiday – July 11 is a logical day to do this – and ship them before the end of the month on July 29. But that is just a guess, of course.
We will keep you posted as we learn more.