What can we expect from IBM’s POWER10 announcements?


Back in August 2020, IBM announced that its highly anticipated POWER10 system will be released next year. As expected, we have a lot to look forward to from this trailblazing server technology innovator. As our own Sales & Marketing Director, Chris Smith, says:

“We’ve got hundreds of POWER cores in our data centre running cloud systems and we just bought 80 new ones last month for our cloud services. It’s really important for businesses like us to know that IBM is continuing to develop Power Systems in new and interesting ways.’

Chris caught up with IBM’s CTO for UK and Ireland, David Spurway, as part of the Blue Chip Live webinar series. While in conversation with Chris, David provided some insights into what’s to come with the POWER10 generation. Here are the six highlights from the conversation:

What can we expect from IBM POWER10?

  1. Heightened speed

Naturally, POWER10’s processor is going to be bigger, better and faster. “The processor cores will be faster,” says David. “The actual thread strength will be improved and as the generational processor jumps up, so does will the performance.”

  1. Energy efficiency

David also highlights that POWER10’s processors will be “roughly three times more energy efficient than the POWER9 systems we have today.” As the processors will be doing so much more in such a small space, the team has to be careful of heat and the power that goes into the processor. As a result, David says we can expect them to be “very energy efficient”.

  1. More AI capabilities

POWER10 will also have what is described as ‘AI infused cores’, which means every day, every processor or Power that IBM is working with “will have new elements to be able to handle the matrix mathematics that lies behind AI inference engines”.

“We’ll be able to run the AI much faster on our systems that are running, for example, IBM i, AIX or Linux. It will be somewhere between 10 and 20 times faster than we can already do it on our powerful POWER9 processors,’ continues David.

In terms of business enablement, this will open the platform to wider workloads and enable faster workload delivery – faster, in fact, than any of IBM’s competitors.

“We’ve had boxes built for AI, boxes built for big data, boxes that were maybe more ideally suited for those big enterprise workloads that we don’t have a lot of. “

“Now we may well be able to see the same building blocks, the same processors in the heart of the big enterprise systems. We’re bringing the true meaning of enterprise AI directly onto the same system that is running those other workloads. We’re excited to see how it evolves.”

  1. Enhanced security

“We’ll also be enhancing our end-to-end security,” says David. “The security for our processors is already very good, but our engineers are going to build more in, especially when it comes to catering for containers.”

David explains that as IBM moves content, it will be able to do new things and keep its containers secure, right at the processor level. Containers will sit alongside the standard PowerVM workloads of AIX and IBM i.

  1. Virtualisation

With POWER10, IBM will be layering a couple of different things within the virtualisation.

“We’re expecting to be able to run KVM virtualisation directly on top of PowerVM virtualisation,” David explains.

“This means a greater spread of applications can be brought directly to the Power systems. We may not need dedicated Linux boxes because it might be able to do that at a very competitive total cost of acquisition on the same systems that run on AIX and IBM i.

“We’ve already started to see this with our Power private cloud offerings. You can lower the TCA and have AIX and IBM i – before bringing new workloads to them.”

“And if we use KVM on top of PowerVM, the workloads may not need to be changed very much at all to run directly on that new hardware.”

  1. Memory

IBM can already create memory databases larger than anyone else because they are working with very large terabyte databases. The new POWER10 system will have the potential to deal with huge in-memory databases, like SAP HANA, as well as communication across the memory between different systems at speeds we’ve never seen before.

“With the new solutions, we can get up to petabytes and can wrap solutions together,” claims David Spurway. “We can wrap servers together to the point where they can actually talk to each other’s memory at almost full memory speeds. Also, they don’t necessarily have to be physically side by side, which is going to involve very interesting and entirely new workloads.”

When will IBM POWER10 become available?

At the end of our webinar, David confirms that the large enterprise-grade POWER10 systems will begin to appear towards the end of 2021: “Our thoughts are maybe fourth quarter, maybe a little earlier.”

The scale-out systems – at least the one or two socket variety systems – will be released thereafter.

“We will use our Enterprise Power Private Cloud technologies to allow investment in POWER9 to remain protected and moved over into the POWER10,” concludes David.

How can you apply the benefits of IBM POWER10 to your business? For those keen to harness the next generation of IBM Power Systems, look no further than Blue Chip’s expertise in creating and supporting an IT architecture to suit your needs.


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