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IBM Brings More Power to Power8 Linux Server Lineup

By Sean Michael Kerner (Send Email)
Posted September 8, 2016


IBM is adding new capabilities to its Power8 silicon and introducing new Linux-based servers in a bid to grow its share of the Big Data analytics market.

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IBM first launched its Power8 family of servers in April 2014 and has been steadily growing the portfolio ever since.Power8Nvlink

The POWER8 silicon itself is getting a boost with the new update, enabling improved I/O capabilities. IBM spokesperson Kristin Bryson explained that the new POWER8 silicon is the same POWER8 chip from an architectural perspective.

"The modification we made to the POWER8 technology, after collaborating closely with our OpenPOWER partner NVIDIA, was the addition of the NVLink enablement technology at the silicon level," Bryson said.

"The OpenPOWER rapid innovation model allows for more value-added features and functions to be added incrementally," Bryson continued.

OpenPOWER is the IBM-led, multi-stakeholder effort to advance POWER-based systems capabilities and deployments.

The NVLink capabilities in the new POWER8 silicon involved IBM putting new logic on to the POWER8 processor silicon in order to enable the I/O connection. According to IBM's testing, the POWER8 with NVIDIA NVLink provides a 5x improvement in terms of bandwidth.

"CPU to GPU connections without NVLink, that is on any CPU that is not the new chip -- including POWER8 and all x86-based chips -- travels over PCIe, which supports a 16GB/sec data transfer rate," Bryson said. "With NVLink, the transfer rate is 80GB/sec, a 5x faster pipeline through which data can travel between CPU and GPU."

Three New Linux-Based Servers Added to the Power8 Portfolio

From a server perspective, IBM announced three new Linux-based servers to the POWER8 portfolio. The S821LC and the S822LC for Big Data are new additions to the LC portfolio, while the S822LC for High Performance Computing is the second generation of a model first introduced last year.

The S822LC for high performance computing is a 2U, 2-socket server with 1 TB of memory, and it can support up to 4 integrated NVIDIA Pascal GPUs. The S822LC for Big Data ships with 512GB of memory and is capable of supporting two NVIDIA K80 GPUs.

The S821LC for Big Data is a 2-socket, 1U server that includes 512GB of RAM and can support one NVIDIA K80 GPU.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at ServerWatch and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist

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