IBM's heavyweight server wins the processing prize for Power5

A new high-end Transaction Processing Council server benchmark result has put into question whether such servers can...

A new high-end Transaction Processing Council server benchmark result has put into question whether such servers can realistically be deployed in enterprises because of the cost of configuring and tuning.

Last month IBM achieved a new record for transaction processing throughput with one of its high-end servers, tripling the speed of the previous record.

A Power5-based IBM p5-595 eServer running the AIX 5L V5.3 operating system and DB2 Universal Database 8.2 achieved a throughput of 3,210,540.63 transactions a minute, based on the Transaction Processing Council's Benchmark C (TPC-C).

Analyst firm Gartner said it considered the 64-way server's price/performance to be poor, with high memory costs and a lack of upgrade making the server unattractive to organisations.

Gartner said the benchmark result was subjective because to achieve its record performance, IBM packed the p5-595 with terabytes of memory and hundreds of terabytes of storage.

Ian Brown, research director for the enterprise systems service at Gartner, said, "This amount of memory would drive up the cost of any system dramatically, in part because P5 memory is particularly expensive. These additional costs, and the extraordinary amount of fine-tuning required will make this server set-up an unrealistic choice for most cost-driven enterprises."

Gartner vice-president of research Andy Butler said, "Our concern about pSeries hardware investment protection refers to the fact that IBM tends to impose a technology break with each new Power generation. A Power4+ system, such as a p690, cannot support a Power5 CPU for instance. Similarly, we do not expect the new generation of systems to support Power6 when they are introduced in two years."

Responding to Gartner's allegation, Stephen Atkins, IBM eServer pSeries product manager UK, said, "The result published for the TPC-C benchmark reflects the cost of the memory and storage used to achieve the winning performance and is represented in the price/performance result of a three-year total cost of ownership of £2.69 per transaction per minute."

In the case of the IBM p5-595 server, Gartner recommended that firms consider its total cost of ownership before buying. It said the three-year TCO for the 64-way p5-595 configuration is three times that of IBM's p690 server.

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