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Thursday, September 08, 2016
New IBM Linux Servers Feature POWER8 Chips And NVIDIA NVLink Interconnect Technology

IBM revealed a series of new servers designed to help propel cognitive workloads and to drive greater data center efficiency.

The new Power Systems are designed to propel artificial intelligence, deep learning, high performance data analytics and other compute-heavy workloads.

The three new systems are an expansion of IBM's Linux server portfolio comprised of IBM's specialized line of servers co-developed with fellow members of the OpenPOWER Foundation.

IBM claims that the new servers are designed to outperform x86-based servers on a variety of data-intensive workloads. Early testing with Tencent, one of the world's largest Internet service providers based in China, has shown that a large cluster of the new IBM OpenPOWER servers was able to run a data-intensive workload three times faster than its former x86-based infrastructure. Moreover, this result was achieved while reducing the total number of servers used by two-thirds.

IBM has collaborated with other members of the OpenPOWER Foundation to re-design the platform at the chip and system levels by incorporating the use of a wide range of accelerators. Through a family of interconnect innovations collectively known as POWERAccel, contributors to the OpenPOWER ecosystem develop systems and other solutions on the POWER platform that are optimized for accelerated applications.

A significant achievement stemming from collaboration is the new IBM Power System S822LC for High Performance Computing server. The new system directly connects the new IBM POWER8 processor with NVIDIA Tesla P100 Pascal GPUs through NVIDIA NVLink, a high-speed, energy-efficient bidirectional interconnect. NVIDIA NVLink is embedded at the silicon level and incorporated into the overall system design. This tight coupling of IBM and NVIDIA technology enables data to flow 5x faster than on an x86-based system, according to IBM.

Among the first companies to receive shipments of the new system are a large multinational retail corporation and the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL).

The systems will serve as an early-generation test bed for developing demanding applications for Summit and Sierra, the next generation supercomputers that IBM expects to deliver respectively to ORNL and LLNL in 2017.

The two additional LC servers available today – the IBM Power System S821LC and the IBM Power System S822LC for Big Data – can also leverage GPU acceleration technology to increase system performance levels on a variety of accelerated applications. Clients can attach NVIDIA Telsa K80 GPU accelerators by PCIe.

Additionally, clients can tap into the POWERAccel Coherent Acceleration Processor Interface (CAPI) available on the S821LC and S822LC for Big Data models for a high-speed interconnect with FPGA accelerators.

IBM promotes the new Power LC lineup as price-advantaged over comparatively configured Intel x86-based servers, costing 30% less in some configurations. Online pricing begins at $5999.

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