New IBM Servers Aim to Manage Vast Amount of Data in the 'Smarter Planet'

New IBM Servers Aim to Manage Vast Amount of Data in the 'Smarter Planet'

With the growth of smart grid systems around the world, as well as the increasing ability to measure and manage data from every element of business, comes a vast increase in demand for computing power.

IBM this week released its next-generation systems that are explicitly designed to capture the astronomical jump in data that smart grid applications bring to the table. The company estimated that an energy company that currently reads its meters about one million times per day today could see that number jump to 85 million daily data inputs with widespread adoption of smart meters and gadgets.

With the Power7 systems, IBM says it has managed to deliver twice the performance of its previous Power6 systems, while running three to four times more energy efficient than previous systems.

The performance improvements come from innovations in the Power7 chip, pictured at right. The new chip has up to 8 cores, with four threads per core, and is optimized for database workloads. The chip also includes Active Memory Expansion, an innovation that virtually doubles the amount of memory servers detect, allowing virtual environments to handle as much as 65 percent more transactions or users.
Along with the new Power7 chips, IBM unveiled four new server systems, with products aimed at high-end enterprises, mid-market firms, and high-performance computing clusters.

But the Power7 launch was more than simply the latest chips and servers from IBM. "This is not a chip announcement; this is a systems announcement," Rod Adkins, senior vice president of IBM's Systems and Technology Group, told reporters at a launch event yesterday. "This is not a reaction or adjustment, or a new strategy based on a new acquisition. This is not a bag-of-parts announcement. This announcement is grounded in R&D developments."

And Power7 fits into IBM's Smarter Planet initiative, which puts computing power at the heart of managing complex systems from traffic flow to electrical grids to water flow, all with the goal of improving efficiency and reducing environmental and economic impacts.

Some of the company's recent Smarter Planet efforts include smart grid projects in California and Australia, a data center of the future at Disney's Epcot center, and water projects focused on the San Francisco Bay and a water consulting service.