IBM's new servers to propel AI, Deep Learning & Advanced Analytics

IBM has unveiled a series of new servers, that have been designed to help propel cognitive workloads and drive greater data center efficiency. Featuring a new chip, the three Linux-based servers incorporate innovations from the OpenPOWER community and are a part of the Power Systems LC lineup, that IBM claims, delivers higher levels of performance and greater computing efficiency than the x86-based server. The servers clam to have been co-developed with global technology companies and the new Power Systems are uniquely designed to propel artificial intelligence, deep learning, high performance data analytics and other compute-heavy workloads to help businesses and cloud service providers save data center costs. According to Big Blue, the three new systems are an expansion of its Linux server portfolio comprised of a specialized line of servers co-developed with fellow members of the OpenPOWER Foundation. The new servers join the Power Systems LC lineup that IBM states, is designed to outperform x86-based servers on a variety of data-intensive workloads.

Early testing

IBM claims to have tested the servers with Tencent, the china based global ISP, and found that the new OpenPOWER servers were able to run a data-intensive workload three times faster than its former x86-based infrastructure while reducing the total number of servers to two-thirds. With the result, the company is now integrating the new servers into its hyperscale data center for big data workloads. Doug Balog, General Manager, POWER, IBM Systems, said, “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.”
“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.”


The company believes that the industry needs a new level of computing power as it is advancing towards artificial intelligence, self-driving cars, real-time fraud protection and the development of life-saving drugs. To address this, IBM has taken an open development approach to system design for taking advantage of acceleration technologies. IBM has collaborated with technology companies through the OpenPOWER Foundation for re-designing the platform at the chip and system levels by incorporating the use of a wide range of accelerators to achieve greater levels of performance than available on traditional commodity servers. According to IBM, through a family of interconnect innovations collectively known as POWERAccel, contributors to the OpenPOWER ecosystem will continue to develop systems and other solutions on the POWER platform that are optimized for accelerated applications.

NVIDIA collaboration

Big Blue states that the new IBM Power System S822LC for High Performance Computing server, has been developed through open collaboration. It features a newly designed processor, the IBM POWER8 with NVIDIA NVLink. The new system claims to deliver an industry-first innovation available only on POWER’s open architecture which 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 claims to help data flow five times faster than on an x86-based system. Ian Buck, VP, Accelerated Computing, NVIDIA states, “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,”
“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.”
Along with this server, IBM has also revealed two other servers, the IBM Power System S821LC and the IBM Power System S822LC for Big Data. These additional servers can also leverage GPU acceleration technology to increase system performance levels on a variety of accelerated applications. 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.

Saving cost and server sprawl

IBM claims that the new servers are compatible in Linux-based cloud environments, are optimized for data-rich applications, and can deliver superior data center efficiency. IBM states that the servers cost 30 percent less than x86-based servers (in some configurations) and can deliver 80 per cent more performance per dollar spent, over x86-based systems. This according to Big Blue enables businesses and cloud service providers to lower costs and combat data center sprawl. Though online pricing begins at $5999, additional models with smaller configurations and lower pricing are available through IBM Business Partners. Reportedly, the general availability is immediate for all variations of the lineup with the exception of the IBM Power System S822LC for High Performance Computing, which is shipping on the 26th of this month.

Abhinav Mohapatra

An author who has a keen interest for the ‘off-beat’ <!--more-->An author who has a keen interest for the ‘off-beat’, he has covered and explored multiple facets of the marketing, advertising

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