A powerful performance: IBM Power9 servers beat the competition

IBM has launched its first systems with the new Power9 processors. Their reliability and high data throughput make them an attractive choice for use in in-memory databases, Big Data analytics and cloud environments. The benchmark values are pretty good too. Per core, the Power9 systems deliver twice the performance compared to solutions based on Intel x86 processors.

With its new Power9 systems, IBM is primarily focusing on data centre operators, web service providers or companies using computing-intensive database applications or artificial intelligence applications. The six Power9 series entry-level models are already available. These are three standard S-series models (scale-out) S922, S924 and S914, the L-model (Linux only) L922 and the H-servers H922 and H924, which have been specially preconfigured for SAP HANA.

Soruce: IBM

Power9 S-series scale-out servers are cloud-compatible and offer PowerVM virtualisation technology, enabling companies to adapt their cloud environment to changing business needs. The servers for IBM i, AIX and Linux also support cloud and AI strategies while simultaneously providing the performance and high availability (RAS: Reliability, Availability and Serviceability) which is required for mission-critical workloads such as Db2 and Oracle. IBM developed and tuned the H-series Power9 server especially for SAP HANA. This includes a memory of up to 4 terabytes, enabling companies to draw conclusions from data analysis quickly and reliably.

Excellent benchmark values

With its new Power9 processors, IBM is placing less emphasis on high cycle rates and is focusing instead on high data throughput. The CPUs offer new I/O technologies such as PCI Express 4.0 and NVLink 2.0, as well as OpenCAPI and CAPI with a bandwidth of 25 Gbit/s. These interfaces considerably increase the data traffic bandwidth from and to the processor – PCI-Express 4.0 delivers up to around double the speed of its predecessor PCIe 3.0.

2-socket systems with a Power9 CPU offer up to 4TB of memory – a third more than comparable Intel x86 Xeon systems. This makes them particularly suitable for in-memory databases such as SAP HANA.

Compared to the existing Power8 servers, the performance per processor core offered by the new Power9 servers is better by a factor of 1.25 to 1.5. This enables customers to reduce software spending on stacks, which are licensed per core. When compared with x86 systems with an Intel CPU, the Power9 systems sometimes provide more than double the performance per core across a range of benchmarks, thanks to the focus on processor core architecture and functions. You can find more details on the performance values here in the footnotes.

Top Preis-Leistungs-Verhältnis

But that is not enough. As well as improving performance, IBM was also aiming to reduce costs for its customers. The IBM Power System L922, with its two CPU sockets and 2U footprint, was conceived especially for Linux applications. In database and Big Data analytics environments (such as Db2 Warehouse) it offers 2.4 times better value for money compared to Intel x86 systems.

Source: IBM

The situation is similar for cloud environments. Power9 systems are also very attractive here, thanks to their superior memory bandwidth and processor core performance. An example: compared to Intel x86 systems with two sockets, when used as an application server they offer 3.4 times better processor core performance and 2.4 times better value for money. You can find more information on the configurations of the systems tested here.