IBM Introduces Power7 Blades and new AIX

IBM recently introduced Power7 blade servers to go with the Power6 and x86 blades already available. The Power7 blades come in 4-core, 8-core, or a “double-wide” 16-core configuration (with two 8-core servers tied together). However, the 4-core configuration – with four disabled cores – cannot be upgraded to eight active cores directly (the four extra cores are permanently disabled). The 16-core configuration is two Power7 blades combined together.

Also introduced was AIX 6 Express, a new (and lower cost) version of AIX for small business.

I’ve always been partial to Power since Apple started using it; it was sad to see Apple stop using the PowerPC.

AIX has never struck me as a well-regarded environment, but now IBM has made it more affordable for more folks; we’ll see how this goes. The AIX admins I knew were frequently complaining about the clustering environment (although HP ServiceGuard has lots of interesting problems too). Last time I used AIX, the printing environment was very odd, like the rest of it.

However, no UNIX can be all bad… right?

IBM Introduces Power7

On Monday, IBM introduced the Power7 processor to go up against the new Itanium Tukwila officially introduced by Intel the same day. The general consensus among those reviewing (such as CNET’s Brooke Crothers) these chips is that the Power7 is much better than the Itanium chip. Indeed, the Tukwila chip was delayed for two years.

This new Power chip will provide twice the processing power of its predecessor but with four times the energy efficiency, according to IBM. The Power7 offers eight cores with four threads each, giving 32 processing cores.

However, one notable absence is Sun: no new UltraSparc processor was announced. Of course, with Sun’s recent financial difficulties plus the buyout of Sun by Oracle, there may just be too much going on at the moment. Yet, will a new UltraSparc come too late?

In the meantime, analysts are noting the fact that Unix servers (such as those running Power7, UltraSparc, and Itanium) are declining, and that the x86 servers are increasing in power and capabilities, with the Nehalem-EX (otherwise known as Beckton) due out soon.

What this means for system administrators is that Linux on x86 could be the biggest growing career, in contrast to Unix (such as HP-UX, Solaris, and AIX).