The central tenet is that with fewer servers and cores, your hardware costs are much lower. This does not mean making a sacrifice in performance. IBM’s Power architecture is optimised for seriously heavy workloads, with more threads per core; more memory bandwidth; more cache and a higher clock frequency when compared to x86.
Lower software costs are also a significant factor to consider, for roughly the same reason. With fewer cores, software licensing costs are far less of a burden to your budget.
Industries are turning to IBM Power due to the extremely high bandwidth available for memory and system I/O, which in turn reduces the number of servers needed.
On this front, all is not so rosy for typical x86 performance. Forbes recently reported on how Intel – the dominant x86 leader – has purposely limited memory bandwidth in Xeon processors with a view to direct interest in two-socket servers over single-socket configurations. With IBM Power, lower density DIMMs can be used, which are less expensive.
Continuing the comparison, pitting the existing POWER9 architecture against the x86 Intel Xeon S, we see strong advantages for IBM.
- 2 x performance per core
- 2.6 x memory per socket
- 1.8 x memory bandwidth per socket
As Power system cores are much faster, workloads run rapidly, and the result is that fewer cores are needed.
Over the past few years it’s been made clear that digital agility is strongly connected to business results. Virtualisation plays a big part in IBM Power, it’s built into the hardware, with no overhead and is always on. Any workload can be virtualised. This flexibility consumes fewer resources than conventional solutions.
To sum up just how cost-effective IBM Powersystems can be, these are the projected three-year TCO results for three similar set-ups, in a study conducted by Quark + Lepton.
Even the hardware and software acquisition costs for the IBM i systems averaged 8% less than the Windows equivalent and 24% less than the Linux equivalent.
We also can’t forget that the IBM Power family is engineered towards the future trends in computing, such as artificial intelligence. IBM’s partnership with NVIDIA has enabled NVLink, a high speed interface, which helps enable data transfer over 2.5 times faster than traditional Intel x86-based servers using PCIe x16 Gen 3.
Also, IBM Power systems are a sensible investment when it comes to long term usage, with life cycles that are far often significantly more than seven years. For the x86 side, the grass doesn’t appear to be greener, with end of life being reached a lot sooner than IBM Power in many cases.
Overall, IBM Power servers are optimised for high performance, geared towards AI and deliver better utilisation of resources.