IBM Power Servers Undercut x86 Server Pricing

Mike Vizard
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In a move that signals a resurgent push in the high end of the server market, IBM today unveiled three Power Systems LC servers that it says cost half as much as a comparable x86 server while providing twice the level of performance.

While IBM has always positioned its Power Series servers as providing much better total cost of ownership than x86 servers, these offerings for the first time signal that IBM is even more aggressive on total cost of of ownership.

Costing 50 percent less than a comparable Intel E5-2699 V3 processor-based server, IBM says the Power Systems LC Servers provide 2.3 times better performance for every dollar spent.

Dr. Stefanie Chiras, IBM director and business line executive of scale-out Power Systems, attributes that ability to be more aggressive to a series of design decisions and the fact that IBM is now making use of commodity components such as DDR3 memory. Since forming the OpenPOWER Foundation, Chiras says IBM has received a lot of feedback from its partners on how to make Power systems more cost-efficient to produce, which she says is now manifesting itself in the latest generation of Power systems.

While IBM decided to exit the x86 server business via a historic deal with Lenovo, the OpenPOWER processors are the heart of multiple strategic initiatives within IBM, including the much vaunted IBM Watson cognitive computing project. Going forward, Chiras says IBM expects to become even more aggressive on Power Series Server pricing once its manufacturing partners start producing more OpenPOWER processors in volume.

Obviously, IBM Power servers are limited to running multiple distributions of Linux, which means the Windows server market is still pretty much going to be dominated by x86 servers. But with Linux now accounting for roughly half of all servers sold, IBM figures the addressable market for Power servers is just getting larger with each passing day.




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