IBM launched last week the new POWER8 processors line and a five Power Systems servers built on the new CPU.
The new Power8 CPUs are built using 4 billion transistors, packed into a large 650-square-millimeter die built on IBM’s new 22nm SOI process, the 12-core (96-thread) Power8 CPU is one of the largest and probably the most powerful CPU ever built. There are 12 CPU cores, each with 512KB of L2 SRAM and 8MB of L3 EDRAM, for a total of 6MB L2 and 96MB L3 cache respectively. There is then a further 230GB/sec of bandwidth to 1TB of DRAM.
Power8 also introduces CAPI (Coherence Attach Processor Interface). CAPI is a direct link into the CPU, allowing peripherals and coprocessors to communicate directly with the CPU, bypassing (substantial) operating system and driver overheads.
IBM says the Power8 is capable of analyzing Big Data workloads between 50 and 1,000 times faster than comparable x86 systems with the same amount of RAM and the same number of cores.
IBM is opening up the entire Power8 architecture and technical documentation through the OpenPower Foundation, allowing third parties to make Power-based chips (much like ARM’s licensing model), and to allow for the creation of specialized coprocessors (GPUs, FPGAs, etc.) that link directly into the CPU’s memory space using IBM’s new CAPI interface.
With availability beginning June 10, the new scale-out S Class servers based on POWER8 CPUs include two systems that run Linux exclusively – the Power Systems S812L and S822L servers. The three additional offerings, the Power Systems S814, S822 and S824 servers, provide users the choice of running multiple operating systems including Linux, AIX and IBM i. Available in 1 and 2 socket and 2U and 4U configurations.