Let's talk about why IBM sucks.

IBM workstations/servers/mainframes and operating systems (AIX, OS/2, etc.)
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Raion-Fox
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Re: Let's talk about why IBM sucks.

Unread postby Raion-Fox » Mon Jul 14, 2014 7:22 pm

Yeah I have to agree that the licencing system for AIX is absurd. I'd look at the Freescale boards as suggested, but I honestly am not holding out for PowerPC.
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Re: Let's talk about why IBM sucks.

Unread postby ClassicHasClass » Mon Jul 14, 2014 10:10 pm

It's not AIX. It's the hardware itself. AIX's licensing is actually pretty simple (if you have the hardware, you are entitled to run AIX). The problem is that the hardware prevented me from getting the features turned on I already paid for, but that's at a far lower level than the operating system.

Similarly, it's not PowerPC that's the problem, it's the IBM big POWER servers. That's why I have high hopes for OpenPOWER, though they've been dashed before.

IBM eventually had to generate me a new code.
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Re: Let's talk about why IBM sucks.

Unread postby Kira » Tue Jul 15, 2014 8:28 am

The Tyan board is now seeding to OpenPower members, which implies it's getting close to ready for larger release.

Additionally, the firmware for the P8 machines has been released as open source.

Both of these things seem to me like steps in the right direction in making Power less of a monolithic IBM-dominated platform.

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Re: Let's talk about why IBM sucks.

Unread postby ClassicHasClass » Tue Jul 15, 2014 7:32 pm

That is very encouraging. I think I'll save my pennies for one.
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Re: Let's talk about why IBM sucks.

Unread postby wenp » Mon Jul 28, 2014 7:29 pm

I knew that IBM licensed hardware per core on mainframes, but this about POWER is new to me. Does this mean, then, that if you buy a used POWER6 you then also have to pay IBM to get the cores activated? Is IBM the only maker that operates this way?

A couple years ago, I read that Oracle's predatory pricing and stalled development of SPARC was driving clients to IBM. I wonder if IBM is now driving some back.

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Re: Let's talk about why IBM sucks.

Unread postby ClassicHasClass » Mon Jul 28, 2014 7:34 pm

Depends. If the machine came pre-activated it should -- and the operative word is should -- stay that way as long as the VPD module is not tampered with. However, in my case, trying to reset the system backplane upset the apple cart even with a known good code. IBM eventually did spit out a new one, thank goodness, but if you experience a hardware failure that requires replacement of the entire backplane as I did, you might wind up in the same situation. Essentially you should not take more than a single core and 16GB of RAM for granted; more cores or more RAM requires activation codes. At least POWER6 has SMT.

Unfortunately I'm quite sure that HP and Snoracle are the same way about their proprietary hardware, which is why I'm looking forward to getting an OpenPOWER machine to play with Real Soon Now.
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Re: Let's talk about why IBM sucks.

Unread postby wenp » Mon Jul 28, 2014 8:03 pm

OpenPOWER looks interesting, but if you don't have AIX, what does it have over a new Xeon? I'm genuinely curious about the details.

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Re: Let's talk about why IBM sucks.

Unread postby Kira » Mon Jul 28, 2014 8:24 pm

wenp wrote:OpenPOWER looks interesting, but if you don't have AIX, what does it have over a new Xeon? I'm genuinely curious about the details.


viewtopic.php?p=7368605#p7368605 sums it up with benchmarks.

The core points:
  • Power8 is really fast
  • Having an 8-issue pipeline (vs 4-issue on current x86 cores) probably helps
  • Being able to issue from 8 threads on a single cycle (vs 2 threads on the vast majority of anything else, including Intel and SPARC) probably does too
  • i also suspect the 96MB L3 cache doesn't hurt

It's also a licensable core, which to the best of my knowledge current Xeon big-core IP is not. If you have the means (and plenty of companies do), you can slap it on a die with your own peripherals and accelerators (think encryption, on-chip networking MAC, compression, workload-specific fixed-function blocks...)

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Re: Let's talk about why IBM sucks.

Unread postby wenp » Tue Jul 29, 2014 9:12 am

Kira wrote:[*]Power8 is really fast

Just on speed? I was sort of expecting that hardware support for virtualization would be a factor. Is PowerVM a big advantage, or can you approach similar performance with Xeon?

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Re: Let's talk about why IBM sucks.

Unread postby Kira » Tue Jul 29, 2014 9:16 am

wenp wrote:
Kira wrote:[*]Power8 is really fast

Just on speed? I was sort of expecting that hardware support for virtualization would be a factor. Is PowerVM a big advantage, or can you approach similar performance with Xeon?


There's no longer any magical virtualization advantage to Power that i'm aware of. There might be some, but Xeon virtualization performance is already exceptionally low overhead; it's had support for virtualization in hardware for some years now. However, extremely aggressive multithreading helps virtualization workloads significantly. Faster processors in general directly result in faster virtualization performance, and Power8 is definitely fast.

Additionally, PowerVM is going extinct for Linux-only workloads on PPC in favor of KVM.

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Re: Let's talk about why IBM sucks.

Unread postby D-EJ915 » Wed Jul 30, 2014 11:40 am

KVM is pretty good speed-wise. I haven't compared it to other commercial solutions but for my personal use it was like running on the hardware itself. My disk system was the biggest slowdown.
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