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IBM upgrades enterprise systems with Power7+ chips and faster storage

03 Oct 2012
IBM Power 770 stack

IBM's Systems and Technology Group is delivering updates to its enterprise Power Systems and zEnterprise mainframe to help customers facing massively growing volumes of data in critical business applications.

Announced on Wednesday, the updates comprise IBM Power Systems based on a new Power7+ processor, updated DS8870 high-end storage systems offering a claimed three times performance increase.

It's also offering new software for the zEnterprise EC12 mainframe, including an updated DB2 Analytics Accelerator, enhancements to CICS, and an updated zSecure security suite.

IBM is focusing on three critical areas for its enterprise customers with these updates - cloud, data and security, Steve Sibley, its director of Power Systems told V3.

"Cloud is the hot topic among most IT leaders as they try to derive greater efficiency and many of our zEnterprise and high-end power system clients have been driving high levels of virtualisation and utilisation on their systems for years," he said.

However, virtualisation also brings new challenges, Sibley added, as it enables developers to move more quickly and this can also lead to new vulnerabilities if administrators are not vigilant.

Among the enterprise Power systems, both the modular Power 770 and the high-end Power 780 are getting an upgrade later this month with the Power7+, the latest incarnation of its Power architecture processors.

Power7+ moves the Power chips to a smaller 32nm production process, enabling IBM to push up the clock speed and expand the cache sizes, delivering up to 40 percent more performance on the 770 and 780, according to Sibley.

The Power7+ offers the same four, six or eight cores as current chips, but adds "accelerators", including one for encryption and another that supports memory compression in hardware.

This latter capability enables memory capacity to be up to 125 percent greater than the available physical memory, with no overhead on the processor, Sibley said.

"Virtual machines are driven by how much memory is available, and this gives you extra memory for little extra cost," he added.

Oddly, IBM's flagship Power server, the Power 795, is not being upgraded with the new processors at this time, but is instead gaining the capability of fitting up to 16 terabytes of memory.

The Power 780 and 795 systems are also getting a new Elastic Capacity on Demand features to share resources (including processors and memory) across multiple servers.

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Daniel Robinson

Daniel Robinson is technology editor at V3, and has been working as a technology journalist for over two decades. Dan has served on a number of publications including PC Direct and enterprise news publication IT Week. Areas of coverage include desktops, laptops, smartphones, enterprise mobility, storage, networks, servers, microprocessors, virtualisation and cloud computing.

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