Published: September 8th, 2016

New OpenPOWER-based servers from IBM could help to create new applications artificial intelligence, deep learning and advanced analytics. The new specialized line of servers was co-developed with members of the OpenPOWER community and were designed to outperform x86-based server architecture, particularly when it comes to data-intensive workloads.

Included in the POWER LC launch are three Linux-based servers, which adds new products to the linecard of partners dealing in IBM’s growing Linux server portfolio. IBM designed the servers to meet the needs of data-intensive enterprises and cloud service providers.

Leading up to the launch, IBM field-tested the servers with Chinese Internet service provider Tencent, which was able to reduce its total number of required servers by two-thirds. According to IBM, the OpenPOWER-based servers enabled Tencent to run data-intensive workloads three times faster than its previous x86-based servers.

“The user insights and the business value you can deliver with advanced analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence is increasingly gated by performance. Accelerated computing that can really drive big data workloads will become foundational in the cognitive era,” said Doug Balog, general manager of POWER at IBM Systems, in a statement. “Based on OpenPOWER innovations from partners such as NVIDIA, our new OpenPOWER Linux servers with POWERAccel set a new standard for these workloads compared with x86 processor-based servers.”

IBM’s goal is to provide a series of high-performance servers that can lower enterprise and service provider server costs while also helping such customers deal with the problem of server sprawl. IBM noted in its announcement that the new servers can provide 80 per cent more performance per dollar spent than x86-based servers. Standard pricing is US$5,999, but models with smaller configurations and lower price tags are available through IBM’s channel partners.

The new servers feature the new IBM POWER8 processor, which includes NVIDIA NVLink technology. IBM is calling a first for the POWER open architecture. The processor directly connects to NVIDIA Tesla P100 Pascal GPUs through NVLink to enable data to flow between the two systems at five times the rate of x86 servers, IBM indicated.

“The open and collaborative model of the OpenPOWER Foundation has propelled system innovation forward in a major way with the launch of the IBM Power System S822LC for High Performance Computing,” said Ian Buck, vice president of accelerated computing at NVIDIA, in a statement. “NVIDIA NVLink provides tight integration between the POWER CPU and NVIDIA Pascal GPUs and improved GPU-to-GPU link bandwidth to accelerate time to insight for many of today’s most critical applications like advanced analytics, deep learning and AI.”