Power8

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Kira
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Power8

Unread postby Kira » Thu Apr 24, 2014 9:49 am

IBM announced Power8 yesterday, ahead of a more official launch this coming Monday. Notably, in a marked contrast from previous Power generations, the core is fully licensable (like ARM) and the platform has the support of a broad ecosystem - most notably Mellanox, Canonical, Google, and Nvidia. Tyan will be providing less expensive whitebox Power8 systems later on, but the machines available Monday are IBM, and will carry an IBM pricetag (which is significantly less than the list prices of entry level systems from other high-end RISC vendors, but still higher than you'd likely pay for a 1-2 socket Supermicro whitebox.) The cheapest machine will have a list price of about US$8k.

The Power8 core is an extremely ambitious design; it can decode and issue six non-branch and two branch instructions per cycle, from as many as eight simultaneous threads. The processor as currently implemented has twelve cores and tops out around 4GHz. While industry-standard benchmarks likely won't show up until next week, I expect Power8 to be significantly faster than Intel's Ivy Bridge-EX at database and multithreaded workloads, and comparable or slightly faster on single-threaded compute loads. Single-threaded performance has become harder to measure lately, as certain subtests on the SPEC suite appear to no longer reflect CPU performance accurately (such as libquantum), but I would be surprised if Intel had any meaningful single-threaded advantage over P8. While Power8 is likely quite a bit faster than Ivy-EX, it's also thirstier; Ivy-EX high-end parts have a TDP of 155W, while the Power8 datasheet says that the P8 SCM has a TDP of 190W.

Current Oracle and Fujitsu SPARCs are likely in an even worse position against P8, as they are already slower than Ivy-EX at some loads, as measured by SPECint[1][2][4]. The good news for those platforms is that both companies have strong roadmaps with major evolutions in 2015; Fujitsu, for instance, has roadmapped a 24-core, 96-thread SPARC64 at 4.5GHz[3], which should be a good match for Power8 on multithreaded loads.

Interestingly, P8 is being marketed strongly toward Linux rather than legacy AIX or iSeries workloads. During the announcement presentation yesterday, Linux was mentioned dozens of times, while I only caught one mention of AIX and iSeries. Of the five new machines, two are Linux-only, and it's a safe bet that third-party Power8 whiteboxes will not be capable of running AIX or iSeries. While AIX and iSeries will no doubt be supported and developed into the far future, it's probable that those platforms are picking up relatively few numbers of new customers, and the focus on Linux is an attempt to focus on a wider audience while the proprietary UNIX market shrinks.

In other vendor developments, we have bits from a number of companies. Nvidia and IBM are going to be working to ship GPU/P8 integrated systems in Q4 of this year; Nvidia's new NVlink technology (available in the next-generation GPU codenamed "Pascal") is designed for high-speed integration with Power processors. Google is investigating Power8 for use in its own datacenters, and is contributing to software and firmware for the platform. A Mainland Chinese company - Suzhou PowerCore - has licensed the Power8 core and is planning to build locally-produced Power8 compatible processors for the PRC server market.

Overall, Power8 is an immensely ambitious processor surrounded by a new development model and broad industry support, and is likely to be the fastest general-purpose processor in the world. While questions remain about whether it can turn around the overall decline in the high-end RISC market, I think it has a very good shot - it's a new business model, with new partners, looking for new workloads in new price ranges.

Notes
[1]: 8 socket Xeon E7-8890 @ 2.8GHz, 120 cores, 240 threads, vs 8 socket SPARC T5 @ 3.6GHz, 128 cores, 1024 threads
[2]: 4 socket Xeon E7-4890 @ 2.8GHz, 60 cores, 120 threads, vs 4 socket Fujitsu SPARC64 X+ @ 3.7GHz, 64 cores, 128 threads
[3]: http://www.fujitsu.com/global/services/computing/server/sparc/key-reports/roadmap/
[4]: Note: The exact performance of T5 relative to Xeon remains ambiguous. T5 tends to perform quite well at Java benchmarks, but the SPEC numbers are worse than Ivy-EX; SAP SD-2, while being difficult to interpret due to being somewhat multidimensional, shows Ivy-EX running a higher number of users (albeit at a slightly higher response time) than T5. TPC-H is similar - a quad-socket Ivy-EX has a higher throughput than T5-4, but at a higher load time (but T5 is equipped with a far larger storage:database ratio.) I expect P8 to significantly outperform T5 across the board, but as always, judge by the benchmark closest to your workload.

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Re: Power8

Unread postby josehill » Thu Apr 24, 2014 10:22 am

Interesting. Thanks for the great overview!

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Re: Power8

Unread postby ClassicHasClass » Thu Apr 24, 2014 9:26 pm

I'm looking forward to the "whitebox" POWER8s. I might even think about picking one up in a year or two when the prices drop, though my POWER6 is doing just fine, thanks.
smit happens.

:Fuel: bigred, 900MHz R16K, 4GB RAM, V12 DCD, 6.5.30
:Indy: indy, 150MHz R4400SC, 256MB RAM, XL24, 6.5.10
:Indigo2IMP: purplehaze, 175MHz R10000, Solid IMPACT
probably posted from Image bruce, Quad 2.5GHz PowerPC 970MP, 16GB RAM, Mac OS X 10.4.11
plus IBM POWER6 p520 * Apple Network Server 500 * RDI PrecisionBook * BeBox * Solbourne S3000 * Commodore 128 * many more...

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Re: Power8

Unread postby smj » Fri Apr 25, 2014 1:25 am

I'm sure P8 will see great adoption. Having largely ignored POWER since 1999, what's the virtualization scene like? (Not that it was such a strong topic then, but I use it a lot now and am wondering about those whitebox servers...)
Then? :IRIS3130: ... Now? :O3x02L: :A3504L:- :A3502L: :1600SW:+MLA :Fuel: :Octane2: :Octane: :Indigo2IMP: :Indy: ... Other: DEC :BA213: :BA123: Sun, DG AViiON, NeXT :Cube:

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Re: Power8

Unread postby ClassicHasClass » Fri Apr 25, 2014 6:32 am

AIX does virtualization very well (see: LPAR), or you can use something like PowerVM on Linux.

I'm mostly an AIX thug though ("loves the jackboots," if you get the ancient reference).
smit happens.

:Fuel: bigred, 900MHz R16K, 4GB RAM, V12 DCD, 6.5.30
:Indy: indy, 150MHz R4400SC, 256MB RAM, XL24, 6.5.10
:Indigo2IMP: purplehaze, 175MHz R10000, Solid IMPACT
probably posted from Image bruce, Quad 2.5GHz PowerPC 970MP, 16GB RAM, Mac OS X 10.4.11
plus IBM POWER6 p520 * Apple Network Server 500 * RDI PrecisionBook * BeBox * Solbourne S3000 * Commodore 128 * many more...

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Re: Power8

Unread postby Kira » Fri Apr 25, 2014 10:03 am

smj wrote:I'm sure P8 will see great adoption. Having largely ignored POWER since 1999, what's the virtualization scene like? (Not that it was such a strong topic then, but I use it a lot now and am wondering about those whitebox servers...)


PowerVM is pretty good stuff, although it's probably overkill for a lot of loads (it's a big serious enterprise class virtualization system.) There's also PowerKVM, which is exactly what it says on the tin, and seems to be what IBM is pushing for most Linux workloads.

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Re: Power8

Unread postby smj » Fri Apr 25, 2014 5:07 pm

ClassicHasClass wrote:AIX does virtualization very well (see: LPAR)

The only thing I really liked about AIX was the Running Man. The logical volume system was pretty cool when I first encountered it - probably the same year as your reference was posted to rec.humor.funny at a guess... And props to SMIT for giving the user a chance to learn the underlying commands, if they could be bothered.

Kira wrote:There's also PowerKVM, which is exactly what it says on the tin, and seems to be what IBM is pushing for most Linux workloads.

That would probably be the choice, then. Hmm, FreeBSD-PowerPC list shows stable netbooting of -CURRENT on an Intellistation 285 with POWER5+... :mrgreen:

ClassicHasClass wrote:I'm mostly an AIX thug though ("loves the jackboots," if you get the ancient reference).

Ha! I didn't even remember that one before I started reading it, lo' these 22 years later. Sigh...
Then? :IRIS3130: ... Now? :O3x02L: :A3504L:- :A3502L: :1600SW:+MLA :Fuel: :Octane2: :Octane: :Indigo2IMP: :Indy: ... Other: DEC :BA213: :BA123: Sun, DG AViiON, NeXT :Cube:

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Re: Power8

Unread postby Kira » Tue Apr 29, 2014 7:30 am

Evidently, this strange-looking machine is what a Google Power8 board looks like.

And this little cutie is the Tyan variety.

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Re: Power8

Unread postby hamei » Tue Apr 29, 2014 6:43 pm

Kira wrote:And this little cutie is the Tyan variety.

Oooh. Now we're talkin' Dodge Charger !

Although this is a stupid move on IBM's part, rivalling the Cimarron for asinine decision-making at the top. Ginny should be peddling refrigerators on The Price is Right, that's what she's good for.

Some fantastic reporting here : http://www.enterprisetech.com/2014/04/2 ... er-boards/

Isn't it great, good ol' Mr Tech Editor will put on the pads and instantly drop to his knees for the advertisers at IBM, codenamed "Shysters" ! omigod, did you know the reference name for this board is the SP010 ? Good Lord deliver us ! What a revelation ! And the codename for the project is Turismo ! Sweet Baby Jesus, I'm in with the in-crowd now ! My code name is Big ******* and the Assistant is Sweetikins. The dog is Bubblehead and the toilet is Aunt Tilly. When I do a number two, that's a Golden Brown Floater. Isn't that so sweet ? We can be nine years old also !

But really, I feel so inadequate ... we aren't a hyperscale datacenter here. And I'm not aimed at small and medium businesses, virtualization, data analytics, solving world hunger, bringing enlightenment to the masses, improving the diet of the underprivileged, providing home shopping channel to the poor, healing the lame, righting wrongs or fighting for truth, justice and the american way.

Damn. Maybe when I graduate from third grade I can get a job as technical editor somewhere too.

I did learn that 'The ATX board measures 12 inches by 9.6 inches, which means it can easily fit in a standard rack or tower server." This is so cool ! now I know that an ATX board will fit into a rack or tower server ! I had no idea ...

“A real server platform is also critical for detailed performance measurements and continuous optimizations and to integrate and test the ongoing advances that become available through OpenPower and the extended OpenPower community.” Oh Gordon, puh-lease ! Stop, stop, I'll mess my jeans ! I can't help it, when you talk technical like that I get so hot !

When you're done, could you go back and take a few years of remedial English ? Maybe you could learn what a fucking sentence is ?

And the pincers movement on Intel ... holee shit, I had that in a whorehouse in Abilene once. Let me tell ya, that's something Intel isn't going to forget quickly ! I don't know if there's any way to prepare for that. Intel just better be careful, that's all I can say !

I've heard there's a fountain in Hell which gushes the vomitous spew of thousands of white-shod Madison Avenue shysters. When Mr Hi-Tech Tech Editor heads down below, he can be the plumber. And Ginny Ginny Bo Binny can be the statue in the center.
I spent a fortune on booze, birds, and fast cars ... the rest I just squandered

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Re: Power8

Unread postby andyjpb » Thu May 01, 2014 7:24 am


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Re: Power8

Unread postby ClassicHasClass » Thu May 01, 2014 4:16 pm

Yup, the z/Machine is hardly dead.

I'd like one in my house, but I'll settle for a POWER8. :)
smit happens.

:Fuel: bigred, 900MHz R16K, 4GB RAM, V12 DCD, 6.5.30
:Indy: indy, 150MHz R4400SC, 256MB RAM, XL24, 6.5.10
:Indigo2IMP: purplehaze, 175MHz R10000, Solid IMPACT
probably posted from Image bruce, Quad 2.5GHz PowerPC 970MP, 16GB RAM, Mac OS X 10.4.11
plus IBM POWER6 p520 * Apple Network Server 500 * RDI PrecisionBook * BeBox * Solbourne S3000 * Commodore 128 * many more...

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Re: Power8

Unread postby bgalakazam » Fri May 02, 2014 6:13 pm

Nobody mentioned that they will swith the Endian-ess ?
thrown out: (IBM pSeries 610 | type: 7028-6E1)

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Re: Power8

Unread postby ClassicHasClass » Sat May 03, 2014 10:31 am

It's really not as revolutionary as it sounds. PPC has technically always been bi-endian though some hardware adjustment was required.

Besides, even on POWER8 AIX and IBM i are still big-endian, and I can't imagine Linux won't still run in big-endian mode even after the "transition" if you still want to.
smit happens.

:Fuel: bigred, 900MHz R16K, 4GB RAM, V12 DCD, 6.5.30
:Indy: indy, 150MHz R4400SC, 256MB RAM, XL24, 6.5.10
:Indigo2IMP: purplehaze, 175MHz R10000, Solid IMPACT
probably posted from Image bruce, Quad 2.5GHz PowerPC 970MP, 16GB RAM, Mac OS X 10.4.11
plus IBM POWER6 p520 * Apple Network Server 500 * RDI PrecisionBook * BeBox * Solbourne S3000 * Commodore 128 * many more...

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Re: Power8

Unread postby robespierre » Sat May 03, 2014 1:11 pm

The most exciting new architectural feature is transactional memory.
:PI: :O2: :Indigo2IMP: :Indigo2IMP:

Kira
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Re: Power8

Unread postby Kira » Sun May 04, 2014 8:38 am

robespierre wrote:The most exciting new architectural feature is transactional memory.


It's good to have, certainly. I was happy when Haswell and z got it last year.

That being said, my favorite features (more microarchitectural than architectural) are that this is an 8-issue processor (the first non-VLIW processor that can sustain 8-issue execution, afaik!) and that it has full 8-way SMT (which is also, I believe, a first.) It's just an incredibly ambitious core.

In other news, we have benchmarks! P8 comes out looking quite good, especially in contrast to SPARC - given that SPARC's published list prices tend to be fairly steep compared to Intel and IBM for entry systems.

SPECint2006_rate
This is a multithreaded throughput integer benchmark. Results are listed as base/result, where result is usually considered the more important number. The IBM SPEC numbers are from the Power Systems Performance Report, and will likely appear on spec.org in the coming days.

  • Power8, 24-core, 2-socket, 3.5GHz: 1280/1750
  • Xeon E7-2890 v2, 30-core, 2-socket, 2.8GHz: 1170/1200
  • Fujitsu SPARC64+, 64-core, 4-socket (Fujitsu has not published a 2-socket X+ result), 3.7GHz: 1780/2090
  • Oracle T5, 16-core, 1-socket (Oracle has not published a 2-socket T5 result), 3.6GHz: 441/489

SPECint2006_rate

This is a multithreaded throughput floating-point benchmark.

  • Power8, 24-core, 2-socket, 3.5GHz: 1180/1370
  • Xeon E7-2890 v2, 30-core, 2-socket, 2.8GHz: 836/857
  • Fujitsu SPARC64+, 64-core, 4-socket, 3.7GHz (see disclaimer above): 1650/1830
  • Oracle T5, 16-core, 1-socket, 3.6GHz (see disclaimer above): 350/369

SAP SD-2

This is a benchmark for SAP's sales and distribution application, and is generally a pretty good reflection of large database workloads. P8 does especially well here; I suspect this is due to its large cache and wide SMT.

  • Power8, 24-core, 2 socket, 3.5GHz, 512GB: 115870 SAPs
  • Xeon E7-4890v2, 60-core, 4 socket, 2.8GHz, 512GB: 114700 SAPs

Oracle and Fujitsu have not published recent SPARC SAP SD-2 benchmarks at comparable socket counts. These are the closest we can do:

  • Oracle T5, 128-core, 8 socket, 3.6GHz, 2TB: 220950 SAPs
  • Fujitsu SPARC64 X+, 256-core, 16 socket, 3.7GHz, 4TB: 448830 SAPs

I do not view those as particularly impressive numbers at this point, compared to either P8 or recent Xeons.

Conclusions

P8 delivers. Xeon has become vastly more credible in the last five years. SPARC is still lagging, although the situation isn't as bad as it was two or three years ago.


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