IBM Power Systems

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Power Systems

by Sherry Kercher

Docid: 00011573

Publication Date: 2007

Report Type: PRODUCT


IBM Power Systems is a hardware and software platform operating on the
IBM i, AIX, or Linux operating systems. POWER9 provides multithreading,
symmetric multiprocessors based on the Power Architecture, with
accelerated, enterprise, scale-out, and hyperconverged servers.
This report describes the current components and capabilities of the Power
Systems hardware and software lines.

Report Contents:


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The IBM Power Systems portfolio was created through the 2008 combination
the System i and System p architectures. At this time, IBM also changed
the name of the i5/OS to IBM i.

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IBM Company

The Power Systems platform is designed to help organizations realize
maximum efficiency through server consolidation and virtualization, energy
efficiency, security, availability, and management, among other elements.
This portfolio consists of both hardware and software targeted at all
types of organizations. The company has launched the POWER9 processor for
data-intensive workloads, offering I/O subsystem technology, including
next-generation NVIDIA NVLink, PCIe Gen4, and OpenCAPI. By unifying its
technology on the POWER9 processor and providing a common hardware
architecture for the former System p and System i, IBM is aiming to
provide organizations with increased flexibility and scalability.

In 2020, IBM reported that it is removing the legacy PCI-Express 3.0
peripheral slots and is moving to PCI-Express 4.0 peripherals. It is also
introducing a single-core version of the Power S922. IBM is extending the
flexible utility pricing it started offering in May 2020 for the Power
E950 midrange and Power E980 high-end systems to the entry Power S922 and
Power S924 machines.

Business Machines (IBM) Corp

1 New Orchard Road
Armonk, NY 10504-1722
(914) 499-1900
(800) 426-4968
Fax: (914) 765-7382
Type of Vendor: Computer and Communications
Hardware, Software, and Services
Founded: 1914
Service Areas: Global
Stock Symbol: IBM (NYSE)

IBM’s Power Systems portfolio consists accelerated, enterprise, scale-out,
and hyperconverged servers.

Servers. IBM Power Systems’ server family consists of
the following:

  • IBM Power Systems Accelerated Compute Server (AC922)–Delivers
    modern HPC, analytics and (AI). Enterprises can deploy data-intensive
    workloads, like deep-learning frameworks and accelerated databases, with
    confidence. AC922 enables the cutting-edge AI innovation data scientists
    desire, with the dependability IT requires. This is IT infrastructure
    redesigned for enterprise AI.
  • IBM Power Blade Servers – The Power
    include the 32-core BladeCenter PS704; the 16-core BladeCenter PS703;
    the 16-core BladeCenter PS702; the 8-core BladeCenter PS701; and the
    4-core BladeCenter PS700. These blades can be combined with Power
    Systems Software such as IBM PowerVM to help consolidate UNIX, i, and
    Linux applications onto the POWER7 processor-based blades. They provide
    built-in virtualization, effective energy efficiency and space
    utilization, infrastructure simplification, and ease of management. The
    BladeCenter tightly integrates servers, storage, networking, I/O, and
    applications to help build a flexible IT infrastructure with integrated
    management tools.
  • IBM Power 750 Express – The Power 750 Express is a 1-
    to 4-socket server supporting up to 32 cores using 6-core and 8-core
    processor modules. The IBM Power 750 Express server offers a choice of
    AIX, IBM i, or Linux operating systems, and virtualization capabilities
    of PowerVM.
  • IBM Power 710 – The Power 710 is a 2U package and
    one-socket server that supports up to eight cores. It provides
    workload-optimizing technologies intended to improve performance based
    on client computing needs and Intelligent Energy features that help
    increase performance and optimize energy efficiency.
  • IBM Power 720 – The Power 720 is a distributed
    application server or consolidation server for UNIX, IBM i, and
    Linux workloads. It is a one-socket server that supports up to eight
    POWER7 cores in a flexible 4U rack-optimized or tower form factor.
  • IBM Power 730 – The Power 730 Express is designed to
    run multiple application and infrastructure workloads in a virtualized
    environment. It is a two-socket server supporting up to sixteen POWER7
    cores and a choice of AIX, IBM i, or Linux operating systems.
  • IBM Power 740 – The Power 740 Express is designed
    for small to mid-sized database servers. It is s a one- or two-socket
    server that supports up to 16 cores in a flexible 4U rack-optimized or
    tower form factor.
  • IBM Power 750 – The Power 750 Express is designed
    for medium to large-sized database servers. It is a one- to four-socket
    server that supports up to 32 cores with energy efficiency and
    diagnostic features in a 4U (EIA Units) package.
  • IBM Power 760 – The Power 760 uses the POWER 7+
    processor, making it ideal for virtualized application consolidation.
  • IBM Power 770 – The Power 770 can scale up to 64
    cores. It provides a unique IBM modular SMP architecture that lets users
    add processing capability when needed. The 770 well suited as a midrange
    application or database server, or for server consolidation.
  • IBM Power 780 – The Power 780 can scale up to 64
    cores. It also offers an IBM modular SMP architecture that allows for
    the addition of processing capability when needed. RAS features and
    leadership virtualization capabilities make it useful as a midrange
    application or database server, or for server consolidation.
  • IBM Power 795 – The Power 795 is designed for
    large-scale server consolidation. It is intended to use in datacenters
    that support large UNIX and IBM i transaction processing and
    database applications.
  • IBM Power 775 SuperComputer – The Power 775 is a
    scalable system with parallel processing performance and dense, modular
    packaging. It can be used in clustered configurations of as few as 256
    processor cores or in supercomputer configurations. Also, it can be
    combined with specialized software from IBM.
  • IBM Blue Gene/Q – IBM Blue Gene family of
    supercomputers has been designed to deliver ultrascale performance
    within a standard programming environment while delivering efficiencies
    in power, cooling and floor-space consumption. The company reports that
    this family of supercomputers has helped map the human genome,
    investigated medical therapies, safeguarded nuclear arsenals, simulated
    radioactive decay, replicated brain power, flown airplanes, pinpointed
    tumors, predicted climate trends, and identified fossil fuels.
  • IBM PowerLinux 7R2 Server – The PowerLinux 7R2 Server
    is designed to provide efficient horizontal scaling at price points
    comparable to traditional Linux servers. It offers the performance and
    workload-optimizing capabilities of the POWER7 processor in a
    Linux-only, dense, 2U rack form factor designed for running multiple
    application and infrastructure workloads in a virtualized environment.
  • IBM PowerLinux 7R1 Server – The PowerLinux 7R1 Server
    is designed to be a high-performance infrastructure and application
    solution in a 2U package. It is designed to be a cost-effective
    foundation for emerging and traditional scale-out workloads.
  • IBM PowerLinux 7R4 – The 7R4 features 4 sockets,
    POWER7+, internal storage of up to 5.4 TB with 900 GB HDD.
  • IBM Flex System p24L Compute Node – IBM Flex Systems
    p24L Compute Node (Linux-specific) is a POWER7-based server that
    supports Linux operating environments and is designed to run a wide
    variety of workloads in a PureFlex System. Compute nodes are deeply
    integrated with storage, networking, and management resources so a
    solution deploys quickly and is easy to manage. Systems management can
    automatically discover a node for simple configuration and quick
  • IBM Flex System p260 and p460 Computer Nodes – These
    Nodes are optimized for virtualization and performance. They support AIX
    (UNIX), IBM i, and Linux operating environments, and are designed to run
    a variety of workloads in a PureFlex System. They provide flexible I/O
    options, advanced management capabilities, and integrated offerings that
    are pre-configured.
  • Power System S822 – The S822 can consolidate multiple
    applications and infrastructure workloads in a virtualized environment,
    bringing together business transaction processing with infrastructure
    for social and mobile applications.
  • Power System S814 – S814 is designed for midsized
    businesses. It allows for consolidation of UNIX, IBM i, and Linux
    workloads. It includes smart acceleration enabled by Coherent
    Accelerator Processor Interface (CAPI) technologies.
  • Power System S824 – S824 is designed for virtualized
    application servers. It is intended to provide faster insights with the
    POWER8 processor and smart acceleration by CAPI technologies.
  • Power System S812L and S822L – These Linux servers
    are optimized for big data and analytics. They offer a choice of Linux
    distributions: Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), SUSE Linux Enterprise
    Server (SLES) or Ubuntu Server, as well as a choice between PowerVM or
    open virtualization with PowerKVM. They also use POWER8 and smart
    acceleration enabled by CAPI technologies.
  • Power System E850c – The E850c is optimized for
    private cloud deployment. As a large enterprise server, it offers a
    blend of enterprise-class capabilities in a space-efficient 4-socket 4U
    form factor.
  • Power System E870c – The E870 is built for
    transforming infrastructure to a local c loud. It provides increased
    security, availability, and scalability with simplified maintenance and
  • Power System E880c – The 880c helps develop a large
    cloud infrastructure with increased security, availability, scalability,
    and simplified maintenance and management.
  • Power S824L (with NVIDIA technology) – The S824L
    with NVIDIA technology uses OpenPOWER Foundation to accelerate Java and
    big data applications.
  • IBM PurePower System – The PurePower System is a
    converged cloud infrastructure for AIX and Linux workloads. It provides
    automated management and deployment for physical and virtual resources.
    It can be configured in an entry-level configuration in a single rack,
    and can be expanded for scalable cloud deployments. It features built-in
  • utilization and Capacity on Demand (CoD).
  • Power System S812LC – The S812LC Linux server allows
    users to run Hadoop, Java, open source, and industry applications. It
    has a modular 1S2U design optimized for clusters, and scales from single
    nodes to hundreds of racks.
  • Power System S822LC – The S822LC Linux server
    incorporates the OpenPOWER Foundation community for users that need to
    run big data, Java, open source, and industry applications.
  • IBM Power System S914 – Single-socket, 4U
    configuration in a tower footprint.
  • IBM Power System S922 – Up to 4TB in a dense
    2-socket, 2U form factor.
  • IBM Power System S924 – Throughput capabilities in a
    2-socket, 4U configuration.
  • IBM Power System L922 (Linux only) – 2U form factor
    designed for Linux with choice of 1 or 2 sockets.
  • IBM Power System E950 – Four-socket system designed
    for cloud deployments with built-in virtualization and flexible
  • IBM Power System E980 – Built for data centers with
    demanding AIX, IBM i, and Linux applications.
  • IBM Power System IC922 – Provides advanced
    interconnects (PCIe Gen4, OpenCAPI) to support data throughput and
    decreased latency. It supports up to six NVIDIA T4 Tensor Core GPU
  • IBM Power System LC921 – Built for virtualization,
    database, and high-performance computing deployments,. It is an1U rack
    server delivers scaling capabilities leveraging PCIe Gen 4 technology in
    a space-saving form factor.
  • IBM Power System LC922 – Designed for Linux
    workloads with extensive storage requirements and leverages PCIe 4.0 and
    CAPI 2.0 innovations. It offers compute and scaling and 2x the data
    bandwidth of x86.

Software. The IBM Power Systems software family consists
of the following:

  • Virtualization – PowerVM – The PowerVM suite is the
    virtualization platform for UNIX, Linux, and IBM i clients. It provides
    for consolidation of underutilized servers enabled by PowerVM fine
    tuning granularity capabilities; consolidation of mixed workloads
    enabled by PowerVM LPAR, dynamic LPAR, and Shared Pool flexibility
    features; and consolidation of applications with varied resource
    requirements enabled by PowerVM Hypervisor and on demand capabilities.
    It also aids in the deployment of new workloads, assists with
    application development, and supports multiple operating environments.
  • AIX – This software suite supports AIX, AIX V6.1,
    and AIX V5.3. Software offered with the suite includes:

    • IBM Workload Partitions Manager for AIX
    • Management edition for AIX
    • High Availability Cluster Multiprocessing (PowerHA for AIX)
    • PowerVM
    • General Parallel File System (GPFS)
    • Cluster Systems Management (CSM)
    • LoadLeveler
    • Parallel Environment for AIX (PE)
    • Engineering Scientific Subroutine Library (ESSL) and Parallel ESSL
  • IBM i – The company enables several technologies
    through this Power Systems category. These technologies include the

    • PHP & MySQL
    • Web Services
    • DB2 and DB2 Web Query
    • Availability with PowerHA.
    • Unified Collaboration and IP Telephony with Power Systems or
      System i
    • Security with i
    • Storage Solutions
    • Integration with BladeCenter and System x
    • Virtualization with IBM i
    • Performance Management

    IBM provides a variety of System i midrange server software,
    including software for application development; business integration;
    commerce; database and data management (DB2); networking and
    communications; portals and collaboration; systems management; and Web
    and application servers.

  • Power VP – PowerVP for virtualization performance
    offers a flexible infrastructure that allows virtual workloads to be
    mobile and to dynamically contract and expand within the virtual data
    center as needed. It offers real-time graphical performance information
    that highlights overcommitted resources. It allows users to replay saved
    performance data to analyze historical performance data.
  • Availability – PowerHA – IBM PowerHA brings high
    availability solutions to UNIX, Linux, and IBM i environments. Business
    continuity and disaster recovery, among other high-availability issues,
    are enabled through PowerHA for i (HASM), IBM iCluster for i, and
    Capacity BackUp Editions, as well as PowerHA for AIX (HACMP), PowerHA XD
    for AIX (HACMP/XD), and PowerHA for Linux (HACMP for Linux).
  • PowerSC – IBM solutions provide security and
    compliance that help define, enforce, and audit business security
    policies. For platform security management, IBM provides IBM PowerSC to
    enable security across Power Systems and Windows OS server platforms
    using natural language. For enterprise security management, Tivoli
    Access Manager for Operating Systems provides mainframe-class security
    that is integrated with Power Systems running AIX and Linux for Power
    operating systems.
  • Power VC – Power VC for virtualization center
    offers advanced virtualization management built on OpenStack. It
    provides advanced virtualization management for IBM AIX and Linux on IBM
    Power Systems, and includes POWER8 processors. It allows administrators
    to create groups of resources that are needed to support workloads, as
    well as allows clients to capture and manage a library of VM images to
    quickly deploy a virtual machine environment by launching a stored image
    of that environment.
  • Power KVM – Power KVM includes Linux open source
    technology of KVM virtualization. It is an open extendable option for
    running VMs on Linux scale-out servers that enables cloud deployments,
    scale-out processing, and big data capabilities.
  • Active Energy Manager – Energy
    management technology monitors and controls energy usage along with
    performance, reliability, and availability issues. IBM’s POWER7
    architecture with EnergyScale technology can provide energy management
    capabilities, which are delivered through the IBM Active Energy Manager
    extension of IBM Director. With IBM Systems Director Active Energy
    Manager, users can identify trends in energy usage and thermal profile,
    turn off processor cores, or limit the energy draw across one or a group
    of Power servers, and track environmental data from applications used to
    monitor air conditioning units, Uninterruptible Power Supplies and
    Intelligent Power Distribution Units.
  • Systems Director – Systems Director helps
    organizations set up and control the server consolidation and
    virtualization environments. With it, server virtualization management
    is integrated with network and storage management for complete resource
    control. The Power Systems management technology helps deploy, monitor,
    analyze, optimize, and update physical and virtual resources running
    AIX, Linux, and IBM i operating system workloads. VMControl provides
    automated virtualization management and minimizes the time it takes to
    provision virtual images and manage system pools. IBM Systems Director
    is a platform management technology that offers tools needed to view
    hardware configurations, monitor usage and performance, and make
    adjustments across multiple Power servers from a single console.
  • Power Systems Enterprise Cloud Editions–Allows clients to
    deploy and manage private clouds, manage security and compliance, and
    accelerate large file transfers across cloud environments. The cloud
    editions are available in two offerings: Enterprise Cloud edition that
    can be deployed in either AIX or Linux, and the Enterprise Cloud Edition
    with AIX, which includes AIX Std Ed. 7.2.
  • Cloud Private – An An open kubernetes platform for building and
    deploying containerized applications. It enables administrators to
    provide high availability, as well as performance and security, in an
    on-premises private cloud.
  • Cloud Management Console for PowerSystems–Provides a
    consolidated view of the Power Systems cloud landscape through a service
    hosted in IBM Cloud. Offers a dynamic view of performance, inventory,
    and logging.

Figure 1 displays the IBM Power System S924.

Figure 1. IBM Power System S924

Figure 1. IBM Power System S924

Source: IBM


The case for server consolidation has been gaining strength. It is
estimated that the labor required by an organization to maintain one small
application server can cost between $500 and $3,000 USD per month. This
price does not include extra requirements such as backup and recovery and
network connectivity. Also, an IBM study revealed that there is an
estimated 44 percent reduction in power consumption after consolidating
applications run on twelve legacy servers onto one IBM System p5 550.

The consolidation of the System i and System p portfolio into the unified
Power Systems architecture reflects IBM’s continuing shift into the
services realm. This consolidated package is being marketed along with the
robust PowerCare services to provide customers with a comprehensive
implementation plan.


IBM customers may be confused by the company’s decision to consolidate
its products into a converged platform. Legacy customers may not fully
understand IBM’s current product names and support strategies, as they
differ from when these customers originally purchased their products.
Additionally, the company may be adversely affected by a weak global
economy, as well as mounting competition in the IT services sector.


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Each component of the Power Systems line is targeted at a specific
market. For example, the Power 750, 760, 770, and 780 are designed for
large-scale enterprise deployments. IBM Blue Gene, Power 822LC, 850, 870,
and 880 are designed for high performance computing. The Express line is
optimized to act as secure distributed application servers, consolidation
servers, or standalone servers. E850c, E870c, and E880c are designed for
cloud computing environments.


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IBM consolidated its System p and System i architectures in April 2008.
These architectures date back to the 1990s. The POWER4 processor was
launched in 2001, and the POWER5 processor was released in 2004. The
company launched POWER6 in 2007, and POWER7 in February 2010. POWER8 was
introduced in August 2013. The Power Systems line supports the AIX, IBM i,
and Linux operating systems. POWER9, launched in 2017, also supports RHEL,
SUSE, and Debian GNU/Linux as of November 2017.


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IBM offers a number of support options and services for Power Systems
customers, as well as specific services for System i and System p
customers. For Power Systems customers, the company provides an online
Power Systems Information Center, product and support information, and the
IBM software support toolbar. The Customer Specified Placement & LPAR
Delivery service is designed to help users define and control the building
of their system. Also, Performance Management for Power Systems helps
customers understand and manage their systems through the use of secure
online reports and graphs.

PowerCare Services, IBM’s main support offering for Power Systems,
consists of the following:

  • Availability Assessment – Provides an analysis of a
    Power Systems IT infrastructure through a healthcheck, and also reviews
    system management processes for adherence to best practices. The company
    identifies significant risks and provides recommendations. Customers
    receive a presentation showing hardware and system availability
    exposures, along with system and availability management exposures.
    Recommendations and issues identified will be reviewed.
  • PowerHA Planning and Assistance – Provides technical
    resources to help customers conduct a planning workshop to define an
    active-active or active-passive 2 node PowerHA for AIX (formerly known
    as HACMP cluster). he company provides a summary of findings and
  • PowerHA for i (HASM) – Offers technical resources to
    assist customers with a planning workshop to define the 2 node HASM
    cluster, and helps with the development of the customer’s deployment and
    implementation plans. This service helps customers develop a plan that
    includes migration to iASP, clustering setup, storage design and
    implementation, and copy services planning.
  • PowerVM Deployment Consulting – Provides users with
    technical resources to help design, configure, and install the AIX
    operating system, shared processor logical partitioning (LPAR),
    Micro-Partitioning, Virtual I/O, and other virtualization features
    available with PowerVM and Power Systems.
  • Active Energy Manager Enablement – IBM can provide
    implementation services to help customers install, configure, and use
    the IBM Systems Director Active Energy Manager (AEM) and IBM Systems
    Director. This service is intended to show companies how to manage
    actual power consumption that affects the thermal load IBM servers place
    on data centers.
  • Security Assessment – Through this service, IBM
    provides customers with technical resources to help them identify,
    construct, or implement new security management policies. The assessment
    addresses potential business impacts as a result of adding new systems,
    new applications, or different network topologies to a legacy

For other Power Systems models, IBM offers PowerCare Services under a
separate agreement. Interested customers must contact IBM STG Lab Services
or IBM Global Technology Services (GTS), an IBM representative, or IBM
Business Partner.


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Pricing for IBM Power Systems varies according to how its components are
configured. IBM and its partners must be contacted for the most recent and
specific pricing information. Pricing for select IBM Power Systems servers
is provided in Table 1.

Table 1. Select IBM Power Systems Server Pricing
Product Price (USD)
IBM Power 740 Express Starts at $15,776
IBM Power Systems S824 Starts at $21,319
IBM Power Systems S824L Starts at $16,419
IBM Power Systems S822 Starts at $10,948
IBM Power Systems S812L and S822L Starts at $7,973
IBM Power Systems S814 Starts at $10,171
IBM Power System S822LC Starts at $9,699
IBM Power System S812LC Starts at $4,820


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IBM Power Systems’ main competition in the server market comes from
products marketed by Hewlett-Packard, Dell, and Oracle.

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About the Author

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Sherry Kercher is an editor for Faulkner Information
Services. She holds a master’s degree in library and information science,
and tracks and writes about storage, communication networks and equipment,
and Internet technologies.

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