Informing the IBM Community

Say hello to the new POWER9 and go buy a POWER8


IBM has just announced the all new POWER9 based AC922 model and it looks great!  I’ll talk about that a little more later but for now just know that it’s faster than ever but these first models are focusing on AI (Artificial Intelligence) and will be running Linux only. We can expect to see the sister versions that will run IBM i and AIX next year and whilst we don’t have a specific date, IBM are generally setting an expectation of the second half of the year.

This time next year I will no doubt be talking about our experiences with the new servers but right now IBM is offering some incredible deals on the existing POWER8 line which means there is a compelling cost case to buy a new POWER8 server right now. In fact having sold a number of these recently, in many cases it was actually cheaper for my clients to upgrade than stay on their existing hardware!

What’s new in POWER9

OK, so before we talk about IBM’s super POWER8 pricing let’s take a quick look at the POWER9 and see what’s new. If you are just interested in saving money with a POWER8 then page down to the “Upgrading can be cheaper” section.

The clock speeds are broadly the same as the POWER8, so this is not just about making the same technology work faster. Truly this a massive redesign, focused on the chip doing more work with every processor cycle.

That may not sound that impressive but just imagine a motorway (freeway, autobahn, etc.) where all the lanes are in use and there are a lot of vehicles in each lane and yet there were no (OK few) bottlenecks. This is the idea behind POWER9, bigger pipes for the data to flow in and out of the chip, again almost double the speed of the best Intel has to offer.

IBM and the OpenPower foundation have come up with a chip that can perform 128 instructions on a single processor cycle, that’s double the best the Intel has to offer.

The processor chips can be subdivided up into two groups, the SMT8  (8 threads) which is where we will have our traditional IBM i and AIX workloads and what they term a Superslice which is a pair of SMT4’s working in tandem, effectively doubling the core count,  which is perfect for AI and HPC workloads.

This means that no matter how complex your workloads this new design with chew through them faster than anything we have seen before. It’s no wonder Google decided to get on board with the POWER train back in 2016.

IBM is targeting these first models of POWER9 at the Artificial Intelligence (AI) and High Performance Compute (HPC) market places and who can blame them. In the race for dominance in the AI & HPC world timing is everything and so putting off these models until after IBM had rolled out IBM i and AIX models would have been a crazy thing to do.

What will this mean for use IBM i Users?

What will this mean for us? Well it’s hard to say as the benchmarks are not out for IBM i or AIX yet but looking at the raw processor data, I would guess (and this is just a guestimate) that the POWER9 could yield 40% more CPW than POWER8 and 100% more than a POWER7.

Upgrading can be cheaper.

Right now we are seeing incredible deals from IBM for IBM i based POWER8 servers, even at the low end. It is not uncommon to see them at half price, literally 50% cheaper than the beginning of the year!

When you combine that with 3 years free hardware maintenance, the reduced cost of 3 Years Software Maintenance and the fact you will most likely be able to reduce the number of cores you need or even be able to go down a processor group. If you take the typical IBM maintenance cost of an existing server it is often more expensive to pay for that than it would be for a new server which includes that exact same maintenance. It seems crazy but it’s true!

Let’s assume you have a POWER6 server, it’s a P10 and it has two cores running IBM i, that gives you about 8,600 CPW. If you were to upgrade to a POWER8 you could drop to a P05 model with a single processing core and get 10,000CPW!

Processor Generation Maximum CPW per core
POWER5 3,100
POWER6 4,300
POWER7 5,950
POWER8 10,000

Now if we look at the typical cost of three years IBM Hardware and Software maintenance for a POWER6 server with two P10 cores running IBM i  then you would have ball park costs of £30,000 over three years.

With these great deals we are seeing from IBM right now, a new POWER8 server with a single P05 core including the same hardware and software maintenance that you would have to pay for anyway would typically cost around  £25,000.

Then as an added bonus, from year 4 you can expect the ongoing cost to be halved because of the reduced IBM maintenance costs.  If that wasn’t enough IBM will even give you an interest free 2 year loan to buy one!

Now I know this all sounds too good to be true but seriously, talk to your friendly IBM Business Partner and get a quote, then you’ll see.

Some of you may have noticed that I didn’t write an article last month, (if you missed me, then bless you, I missed you too) but in my day job we were literally overrun with orders for these low priced servers so as much as I love you all, I have a cat to feed!


Nice to see you

It was great to see you all in Wolverhampton last month, I think that was the largest event we’ve ever had in the Midlands, thank you!

We have two more events lined up for you early next year, Thursday 22nd February – Norton Grange Hotel Rochdale and Thursday 8th March – IBM Client Centre, Southbank, London.

More details and a booking form are available at our website


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