IBM Unveils High-End POWER5 Models

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Yesterday, at the COMMON Fall Conference in Toronto, IBM's Bill Zeitler and Mike Borman took the stage to announce the most powerful midrange system in the company's history. That system--the eServer i5 Model 595--offers as many as 64 POWER5 processors to support workloads running on i5/OS, AIX, and Linux. In addition, IBM's pSeries group announced two high-end eServer p5 systems that support i5/OS as well as AIX and Linux applications. The new POWER5 servers push the eServer i5 and p5 families to performance levels that exceed those of many IBM mainframes.

The eServer i5 Model 595 represents an enormous performance and capacity boost for IBM's customers. Compared to the largest iSeries Model 890, the Model 595 delivers more than four times the performance, eight times the memory, and eight times the number of logical partitions (LPARs). The high-end server comes in three configurations: an 8/16-way version with eight active and eight standby processors, a 16/32-way, and a 32/64-way. The processors on all three configurations run at 1.65 GHz, the same clock speed as the eServer i5 Model 570. IBM will start shipping the Model 595 on November 19.

To underline its commitment to POWER5 customers, IBM also announced the eServer p5 Models 590 and 595 last Friday. While the two models use virtually the same hardware as the eServer i5 Model 595, they have slightly different packaging. The eServer p5 Model 590 comes with 8 to 32 POWER5 processors running at 1.65 GHz. The eServer p5 Model 595 offers 16 to 64 POWER5 processors running at either 1.65 GHz or 1.9 GHz. According to my sources inside IBM, the computer giant decided to limit its 1.9 GHz processors to the eServer p5 because it can only guarantee adequate yields of the chips for one processor line. Besides, the eServer p5 has to compete with other UNIX servers in sales engagements where performance benchmarks are often critical to winning over customers.

Speeds and Feeds

No matter what clock speed the eServer i5 Model 595 runs at, the system gives iSeries customers a hefty increase in processing bandwidth. The following table offers technical specifications that demonstrate this fact.

 

The eServer i5 Model 595 Compared to the iSeries 890
Processor Feature Codes
890-2497
890-2498
595-0946
595-0947
595-0952
Processor
16/24-way
POWER4
1.3GHz
24/32-way
POWER4
1.3GHz
8/16-way
POWER5 1.65GHz
16/32-way
POWER5 1.65GHz
32/64-way
POWER5
1.65GHz
Processor CPW Range
20000--29300
29300--37400
24500--45500
46000--85000
86000 -165000
Editions and Offerings
Standard
Enterprise
High Avail.
Capacity BK
Standard
Enterprise
High Avail.
Capacity BK
Standard
Enterprise
Standard
Enterprise
Standard
Enterprise
On Demand Capabilities
Processors
Processors
Processors
Memory
Reserve COD
Processors
Memory
Reserve COD
Processors
Memory
Reserve COD
Memory (Maximum)1
192GB
256GB
512GB
1TB
2TB
Disk Storage (Maximum)
144TB
144TB
114TB
190TB
190TB
IXS/IXA Cards (Maximum)
48 / 60
48 / 60
60 / 48
60 / 57
60 / 57
Maximum LPARs2
32 OS/400
32 Total
No AIX support
32 OS/400
32 Total
No AIX support
64 i5/OS
160 Total
Supports AIX
64 i5/OS
254 Total
Supports AIX
64 i5/OS
254 Total
Supports AIX
OS/400 Release Support
V5R2, i5/OS
V5R2, i5/OS
i5/OS
i5/OS
i5/OS
Software Tier
P50
P50
P50
P50
P60

1 The maximum memory limits for the Model 595 will be achievable when using a 32 GB memory feature that IBM will ship during the second quarter of 2005.
2 Both the iSeries 890 and eServer i5 Model 595 support a maximum of 10 LPARs per processor.

As the above table indicates, the eServer i5 Model 595 has enough processing throughput and memory capacity to consolidate multiple iSeries Model 890 systems (or for that matter, large UNIX servers). Indeed, IBM decided to create a new P60 software price tier for the 32/64-way server because its performance is in an entirely different class than servers in the P50 tier. However, high-end customers should note that for the next several months, the maximum memory levels that the Model 595 will support are half of what the table shows. That is because IBM is waiting on its suppliers for a 32 GB memory card that will double the capacity per memory slot on the new servers.

As expected, the Model 595 enables customers to create up to 254 LPARs on a single server. The new model also allows customers to support up to 64 i5/OS LPARs, twice the number supported on the Model 890. As for Linux and AIX LPARs, customers can run up to 10 per processor up to the maximum number of 254.

Speaking of LPARs, IBM is using this announcement to formally declare its support for i5/OS LPARs on the eServer p5. Starting in December, IBM will allow users of the eServer p5 Model 570 to support i5/OS LPARs on a single processor for a maximum of 10 i5/OS LPARs. Owners of the eServer p5 Models 590 and 595 will be able to support i5/OS LPARs on two processors for a total of 20 LPARs. Because this announcement involves some unique configuration requirements and pricing structures, I will study it in detail in a future issue.

Good Things Come in Big Packages

While we are on the topic of pricing structures, you should know that IBM used the same packaging rules to price the eServer i5 Model 595 that it used for the Model 570. As the following table shows, both the Standard and Enterprise Editions of the new model include four i5/OS processor licenses. The Enterprise Edition also includes four Enterprise Enablement Features that provide the equivalent of four processors' worth of 5250 application performance.

 

Packaging and Pricing for eServer i5 Models 570 and 595
Model Number
Active/Standby
Processors
Performance
Standard Edition
Base Offering
Enterprise Edition
Base Offering
Active Processors2
Processors with i5/OS Licenses3
Base
Price
Active Processors2
Processors with i5/OS Licenses3
Enterprise Enablement Features4
Base
Price
570-0930
1/2-way
3300-6000 CPW
1
1
$71,000
1 + 11
1
2
$300,000
570-0921
2/4-way
6350-12000 CPW
2
1
$82,000
2 + 11
1
4
$450,000
570-0922
5/8-way
15200-23500 CPW
5
4
$276,000
5 + 11
4
4
$662,000
570-0924
9/12-way
25500-33400 CPW
9
4
$339,000
9 + 11
4
4
$970,000
570-0926
13/16-way
6350-44700 CPW
13
4
$404,000
13 + 11
4
4
$1,358,000
595-0946
8/16-way
24500-45500 CPW
8
4
$783,000
8 + 11
4
4
$1,549,000
595-0947
16/32-way
46000-85000 CPW
16
4
$1,436,000
16 + 11
4
4
$2,223,000
595-0952
32/64-way
86000-165000 CPW
32
4
$2,714,000
32 + 11
4
4
$3,578,000

1 The number of active processors includes one additional processor activation provided in the Enterprise Edition.
2 Additional processors may be activated at a cost of $7,700 per processor (on the Model 570) or $21,000 (on the Model 595).
3 Additional i5/OS licenses are available for $45,000 per processor.
4 Additional Enterprise Enablement features may be purchased if required. The cost is $150,000. Customers can also purchase maximum 5250 capacity on all active processors for $250,000 (on the Model 570) or $350,000 (on the Model 595).

I do not have space in this article to analyze the pricing of the Model 595. However, IBM is claiming that, depending on the configuration, the Model 595 has a 30% to 68% lower cost per CPW than the Model 890. That seems realistic to me, but I will examine the claim at length in a future article.

While the Models 570 and 595 have almost identical packaging rules, there is one area where they diverge. While Model 570 owners pay $7,700 to activate a standby processor, Model 595 owners will pay $21,000. IBM may justify the difference by pointing out that it charges more to activate a processor on the iSeries Model 890 than on smaller iSeries models. That is true, but continuing the practice seems questionable when a single processor activation on the Model 595 provides the same number of CPWs as a single processor activation on the Model 570. I hope that IBM reconsiders this one component of a price structure that is quite sound in other respects.

By the way, you may have noticed that IBM only announced Standard and Enterprise Editions of the Model 595. If you're wondering whether Big Blue will announce High Availability or Capacity Backup offerings of the Model 595, I can assure you that the company will do so in the coming months. For the moment, customers who need these offerings can request them via the special bid process. IBM is eager to close as much business as it can before the year ends, so it will probably accommodate such bids wherever possible.

Clearly, the Model 595 gives IBM's larger iSeries customers a new range of computing options to consider. Next week, I intend to write an article that examines some of those options, so stay tuned.

Lee Kroon is a Senior Industry Analyst for Andrews Consulting Group, a firm that helps mid-sized companies manage business transformation through technology. You can reach him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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