Before some time IBM announced its new POWER7 processor and some new System p servers with that processor. POWER7 is huge improvement in processor technology and it is undisputed benchmark leader which is quite standard for any new POWER processor released by IBM. People would like to see blades with POWER7 processor and often asked if they will be available. Unlike POWER6 which was mainly good for integer applications, POWER7 is very good for HPC also and blade servers are very common in HPC applications.
Right time has come and they are available now. IBM recently announced new POWER7 blades. Inside announcement there is also mentioned new AIX Express edition, which allows up to 4 CPU cores per OS image and up to 8 GB memory per core. This limits fits into SMB deployments very nicely.
I am very surprised with highly competitive POWER7 blade prices. I sometimes hear that we would like to run POWER systems instead of Intel, but they are too expensive for most of our applications - we can deploy them just on very few (usually database) servers. While IBM Power 750 Express server is priced similarly to other IBM System p servers, POWER7 blades pricing is entirely different and comparable with Xeon 5500 series systems. Today any sized company can use POWER7 blades without changing their IT budget and we will probably see more people migrating to these systems.
Lets take a closer look at blade PS700 Express. It has POWER7 CPU with 4 cores running at 3 GHZ , 32MB L3 cache, 16 GB RAM and 300 GB 10K RPM SAS drive. for $7,088.00. Because its lower end system, lets compare it to HS22 blade. If we buy IBM blade BladeCenter HS22 (Intel Xeon X5570) 8 cores in 2 sockets, 2,9 GHZ, 8 MB L3 Cache with similar configuration 16 GB RAM and 300 GB 10K SAS drive + RHEL 3y subscription then price will be very similar - $8,612.00 as you can see yourself if you will play with online configurator.
What is more interesting is system SPECINT 2006 performance. Our x64 HS22 blade gets 38,5 for entire system against POWER7 PS700 Express which gets 28,0 per core. which makes POWER7 blade about 3 times faster at similar price. If we talk about hardware alone this will saves you lot of money - not just hardware acquire costs but also floor space, electricity and cooling. Entire different chapter are license prices. Because software is licensed mainly per core today, system with half cores but 3x better performance can lead up to 6 times cheaper licenses when compared with Intel x64 based systems. This is lof of money, for example DB2 Enterprise costs about $20 k per core.