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Linux on IBM Power

Linux on IBM Power – What’s the big deal?

Most of us have heard that Linux on IBM Power is possible and affordable but why should we consider this option and does it really make sense? Most of the IT departments are running their Unix environment on a VMware type solution. What does Power Linux have over these virtualized environments that would make it attractive to switch or at least test the waters?

Performance

One of the key benefits Power8 has over Intel is the number of threads per core. Intel currently can do 15 cores with 30 threads (2 threads per core). IBM Power8 processors can have up to 12 cores per processor with 8 threads per core, that’s 96 threads in one processor.

Virtualization

System administrators of Power servers will be happy to know that you still manage your systems with the HMC. There are two hypervisors you can run on Power to virtualize your environment: PowerVM and PowerKVM. PowerVM would be familiar to the current Power Administrator but PowerKVM would be familiar to the Unix Administrator and simplify the transition for those clients. Currently PowerKVM will only run on Power Linux-only models. IBM’s micro partition allows you to allocate as little at 0.05 of a processor to 1 virtual processor while VMware only allows you to assign a minimum of 1 core per virtual processor.

Distros

IBM supports the following Linux distros: Red Hat, Fedora, Suse, Open Suse, and Ubuntu.

Summary

When comparing Intel vs IBM for Linux it’s no longer as clear as it once was 2 or 3 years ago. You could always be sure that Intel would be much cheaper than IBM Power and the performance benefits IBM provided wouldn’t outweigh the price. IBM has stepped up and lowered their entry point and now you can no longer avoid the conversation. Customers should take advantage of this competition between Intel and IBM and gain the performance and reliability of Power.

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