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Big Blue embiggens little iron to match the march of the Xeon

Power 8 gets some four-socket goodness

IBM wants to win the spec-war with Chipzilla: in response to a growing number of x86 vendors pitching four-socket Haswell-EX-based mobos, Big Blue has announced the Power E850.

This four-socket system is a shot back at announcements already made by HP, Dell, Oracle, Fujitsu and NEC, with World+Dog presumably queuing up to follow.

IBM's answer, described in detail at The Register's sibling publication The Platform, is to take the shoehorn to high-end capacity-on-demand features and fit them into the Power E850.

That applies software-licensing principles to the hardware: the Power E850 ships with two processors and fully loaded with memory, and the user activates cores and memory licenses based on need (which may be permanent or temporary).

IBM's Murano dual-chip module provides the Power E850 grunt, with up to four DCMs per machine, 2 TB of DDR3 memory, a maximum 51 Gen3 PCIe slots, SAS controllers for internal disk/SSD/DVD bays and support for up to 1,500 SAS bays via the expansion drawers.

One of the PCIe slots is devoted to a dual-port 10 Gbps Ethernet card in the default config.

Big Blue's Integrated Facility for Linux (IFL) lets penguinistas get a price break, and IBM is offering a 70 per cent utilisation guarantee – that is, workloads will still respond to spec when the CPU is under that much load.

The machine will run IBM AIX 6.1 and 7.1 Unix. In big endian mode it'll support Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.6 and 7.1, and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 SP3. In little endian mode there's RHEL 7.1, SLES 12, and Ubuntu Server 14.04 and 15.04.

There's plenty more detail at The Platform, and if you need an insomnia cure, there's a 180-page-plus IBM RedBook. ®


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