IBM has revealed a new Power5 processor-based mid-range server. The System p5 560Q is the flagship of a new, three-strong range of machines that IBM is aiming at the Web server consolidation market.

Comparing it to what Big Blue called "the proliferation of x86 Linux servers", the company said it would improve IT efficiency and reduce energy, space and system costs.

The 1.8GHz 560Q with 16 cores is the most powerful member of the range. Others in the range include the IBM BladeCenter JS21 for Web Serving Farms, with up to 14 blades per system for the middle and low end; and Express Offerings that start with one PowerPC processor-based blade or 1U rack system.

All three use IBM's optional Advanced Power Virtualization (APV) technology to allow up to 10 virtual server images per core.

IBM said the products could be used with Novell's new Integrated Stack for SUSE Linux Enterprise (ISSLE) for System p, also announced today. The Novell product is a software bundle that combines SUSE Linux Enterprise Server with a mixture of open- and private-source software from IBM and Centeris. It's aimed at small and medium businesses for serving file and print, Web applications, and database functionality.

Details

The 560Q's virtualisation features include partitioning that allows users to run multiple virtual machines per processor, sharing I/O, and autonomically allocating additional resources to the application as needed.

According to IBM, it means that up to 320 x86 Linux servers installed across eight racks with 42 1U servers per rack can be replaced by one rack of five 560Q 16-core servers running 320 virtual server images, saving up to an estimated 80 percent floor space.

IBM's consolidation tests

IBM said that it demonstrated running four LAMP (or Web server software stack) applications per 560Q core in a test documented in the IBM white paper "Consolidation Test of LAMP applications on an IBM System p5 560Q Express server," dated February 14, 2007 and posted here.

Under this configuration, it showed 64 LAMP applications running on a single 16-core 560Q using APV, allowing 320 LAMP applications to be run on five 560Q servers - one rack. The comparison was based on running a single LAMP application per x86 server. Data centre floor space usage was estimated as of 29 January 2007 using Alinean's ROI Analyst software, according to IBM.

The test results concluded that performance was acceptable and that the workload from 64 servers was consolidated onto the single p5-560Q server. It added caveats that, because workload requirements vary, the number of Web applications that can be consolidated in real-world environments may vary, but that the p5-560Q "offers the potential for Web application consolidation of LAMP applications when compared to running those applications on x86 servers with one LAMP application per x86 server".

The reduction and actual costs savings, if any, in floor space, power consumption, and overall total cost of acquisition depend on the specific customer, environment, application requirements, staffing levels, and the consolidation potential.

Management

IBM said its IBM Director management software can be used to manage the systems, allowing IT admins to deploy, view and control physical and virtual resources within a data centre from a single dashboard view. Adding Tivoli allows the applications themselves lso to be managed, said IBM.

Benchmarking

IBM claimed the p5 560Q uses Big Blue's fastest ever quad-core module Power5+ processor with simultaneous multi-threading with up to 32 threads, and scales from 4 to 16 cores per system, and up to 80 cores per rack.

Benchmark results include:

  • 16-core SPECompM2001 is the best of Linux systems by 77 per cent; beats HP AlphaServer (16-core) by 76 per cent; and is over three times Sun V890 16-core.

  • Delivers over 17 per cent greater LINPACK performance than a 16-core HP rx8620.

  • The p5-560Q (16-core) with the AIX 5L OS delivers over twice the SPECjbb2005 performance of the 16-core Sun V890.

  • Surpasses 16-core Sun V890 in Lotus NotesBench D7 R6iNotes benchmark by over 37 per cent in performance and 31 per cent in price/performance.

"The new 560Q delivers outstanding performance through quad-core technology, new I/O drawer support, and superior virtualisation offerings which makes it both a hot new midrange offering in our UNIX server line as well as the server of choice for clients that want to save money by consolidating their Linux web server environments," said IBM's Linux and open source VP Scott Handy. "Whether consolidating 320 1U x86 servers to one rack with the new 560Q or consolidating 12 servers to a blade or 1U server at the low end with our new integrated stack, IBM System p is changing the economics of Linux web serving with these new powerful solutions."

The IBM System p5 560Q is planned to be available on 23 February 2007 with a starting US list price of $43,800. The Web Serving Farm solution with a BladeCenter H chassis and 14 blades has a starting list price of $38,835. The System p5 505 Express has a starting US list price of $3,717 and the quad-core System p5 505Q Express has a starting US list price of $5,505.