IBM has introduced the first server with Power10

The server is IBM Power E1080 (the previous generation was called E980, so a certain scheme is probably evident). According to IBM, it was designed from the ground up for deployment in a hybrid cloud environment, the use of which grew across various types of companies during the pandemic. This is such a nice and basically meaningless formulation, so let’s take a look at some technical parameters.

The server can consist of one to four nodes, each node contains four Power10 processors made by 7nm technology at Samsung. Each Power10 used, depending on the configuration, can have 10, 12 or 15 cores (in fact, in the latter case, sixteen cores are present on the silicon, one of which is permanently discarded to increase the yield). Each core can then process eight threads (SMT-8) at a time. With a calculator in hand, a maximum of 240 physical cores and 1920 threads can be reached. When creating configurations, there is a restriction that each populated node must carry the same processors as the other nodes.

As far as memory is concerned, it will be possible to install up to 16 TB of RAM per node in the future (after the delivery of the first modules dimensioned in this way in December this year), ie a total of 64 TB of memory for the entire E1080 server. The memories are based on the new OpenCAPI Memory Interface (OMI) architecture, the theoretical throughput when using 32GB or 64GB modules is up to 409 GBps for one Power10. However, the OMI controller firmware is currently the proprietary property of IBM, despite the word “open” in the name, which means that Power10 cannot currently be described as completely open hardware.

Other parameters only briefly:

  • 8 PCIe Gen 5 slots on each node, ie 32 in total; available adapters for all previous generations of PCIe slots, datasheet speaks up to 192 PCIe Gen 3 slots with a suitable combination of adapters
  • Up to 4000 SAS disks, both HDD and SSD, can be connected directly.
  • IBM AIX, IBM and Linux systems are supported

IBM has also implemented some benchmarks against which, of course, a healthy degree of skepticism is needed, as they are directly part of the press release and have certainly been selected appropriately. However, it follows from them:

  • 2.5x higher performance with AES encryption than with previous generation servers
  • 5x higher speed for matrix operations using accelerators available in Power10 (marketed as a five-fold acceleration of artificial intelligence operations)
  • 4.1x higher throughput for RedHat OpenShift containers per core compared to x86 servers (compared to Intel Xeon Gold 6248 in performance mode, both tested systems had 40 cores, 3.8-3.9 GHz and maximum installable memory)
  • SAP Enterprise Cloud Services and HANA Enterprise Cloud run 40% faster than on the nearest comparable x86 (here test against a server with Intel Xeon Platinum 8380H)

It is certainly not the iron that a normal user would buy for their small home server room (as evidenced, for example, by the discreet omission of any price mention anywhere in IBM’s public materials), so it is misjudged how much progress the E1080 will make for practical use. However, if IBM materials can be trusted, the increase in performance and decrease in power consumption is such that the two E1080s will replace up to 126 previous-generation servers with more than 80% energy cost savings. If this turned out to be true, at least after dividing by two, then it would certainly be progress.

For fans of open-source hardware and OpenPOWER architecture, however, there is no joy yet. In this area, it still remains the fastest option of the previous generation, ie Power9.


Source: Diit.cz by diit.cz.

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