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IBM cheapens Oracle by delivering promised power-up for some POWER servers

Plus – calm down now – all the fun of OS subscriptions!

IBM has delivered on its December 2022 “statement of direction” that it would announce "a high-density 24-core processor for the IBM Power S1014 system" with news that the "processor" is actually a CPU module with two dozen cores for said server.

The change nonetheless means that the S1014 – a single socket machine that's the least mighty of Big Blue's POWER server range – is now offered with triple its previous maximum core count, and 192 threads customers can put to work.

IBM's suggested use for the machine is running Oracle Database Standard Edition 2, as Big Red's license for that tool is charged by the socket, not by the core. Packing in an extra 16 cores therefore makes the S1014 a better proposition for Oracle users.

Big Blue's also shown SAP users some love if they run the Power L1022 and the Power L1024 servers, which are now offered memory bundles that include an optional amount of memory and three years of IBM Power Expert Care Advanced support.

Buyers will also need a subscription for Red Hat or Suse enterprise Linux, in the cuts of those OSes tailored to SAP on POWER, plus a three-year commitment to PowerVM.

Further Big Blue licensing changes also landed on Tuesday in the form of subscriptions for its IBMi operating system, across all of its software tiers. Those plans were announced on the same day as a withdrawal of some hardware subscription features.

POWER server users can also plug in a new IBM NVMe module that brings 800GB, 1.2TB, 3.72TB or 6.4TB of capacity to several models.

As our sibling publication The Next Platform recently reported, analyst firm IDC predicted that $14 billion will be spent on non-x86 servers during 2023, and grow at a faster rate than x86 sales.

IBM has for years been the biggest vendor of non-x86 servers, and just about the only player left standing (other than Fujitsu and Oracle). But Big Blue's POWER and Z platforms remain very lucrative and both platforms are in upgrade cycles.

The changes announced on Tuesday will help the POWER platform to sustain its sales momentum.

But Big Blue no longer has the non-x86 market to itself: Arm recently asserted that its chip designs power five percent of the server fleets across AWS, Azure, and Google clouds. While Arm is making inroads at hyperscalers, few suggest it will do likewise in the sort of on-prem roles at which POWER systems excel.

Indeed, making inroads there will be even harder now that the 24-core module makes the S1014 a better option for Oracle workloads. ®

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