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IBM POWERS on Linux

By Sean Michael Kerner (Send Email)
Posted Apr 24, 2007


IBM Monday unveiled System p Application Virtual Environment (p AVE), technology that enables all Linux x86 applications to run unmodified on POWER-processor-based System p servers.

IBM Monday unveiled technology to enable Linux applications to run unmodified on System p servers.

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"We have a lot of Linux on POWER apps — some 2,800 native ones — but a lot of times when customers do a server consolidation, it's not just the main applications that need to run," Scott Handy, vice president of worldwide marketing and strategy for System p, told internetnews.com.

"We expect the main workloads will all fit in the 2,800 apps we already have, but it's all the other apps that need to work, too."

According to Handy, p AVE is seamless to end users. It automatically determines what is native and what is virtual without user intervention or setup.

For example, you could have an Apache Web server running as native Linux on POWER, and then if you run some other Linux x86 binary, the OS would realize it's not native POWER and would then pass it to p AVE, which would then run it in the p AVE environment.

Not all Linux applications should necessarily be run on p AVE, though. Handy noted there is a performance trade off with p AVE, as opposed to running an application natively on POWER.

"The performance characteristics will depend on the types of workloads. We expect Java to perform well, but with certain applications, the performance hit could be in the range of 10 percent," Handy said. "If the application is a heavily performance-oriented application, it's probably not the best candidate for p AVE."

For resource-hungry applications, Handy suggests enterprises consider porting their apps to POWER via IBM's Chiphopper program. In Handy's view, it's not too difficult, as all that is required is a recompile of code targeted for POWER.

IBM currently works with Novell and Red Hat for its Linux on POWER efforts. Handy said the companies agreed to include their x86 libraries in their POWER versions once the p AVE technology becomes generally available.

IBM is currently expanding its private beta into an open beta for system p users. The final full release is not expected until later this year.

The p AVE technology will not be a direct-revenue generator for IBM. Handy said IBM will not charge system p users extra for the technology, as it considers it to be part of the overall value proposition.

"It's really nice to just tell customers that no matter what the app is it'll work."

This article was originally published on internetnews.com.

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