Big Blue Aims For The Sky With Power9

Intel has the kind of control in the datacenter that only one vendor in the history of data processing has ever enjoyed. That other company is, of course, IBM, and Big Blue wants to take back some of the real estate it lost in the datacenters of the world in the past twenty years. The Power9 chip, unveiled at the Hot Chips conference this week, is the best chance the company has had to make some share gains against X86 processors since the Power4 chip came out a decade and a half ago and set IBM on the path to dominance in the RISC/Unix market. IBM laid out a roadmap out past 2020 for its Power family of processors back at the OpenPower Summit in early April, demonstrating its commitment the CPU market with chips that are offer a brawny alternative to CPUs and accelerators compared to the Xeon and Xeon Phi alternatives from Intel and the relatively less brawny chips from ARM server chip makers such as Applied Micro and Cavium and the expected products from AMD, Broadcom, and Qualcomm. We pondered IBM’s prospects in the datacenter in the wake of some details coming out about next year’s Power9 processors, which IBM said at the time would come in two flavors, one aimed at scale-out machines with one or two sockets and another aimed at scale up machines with NUMA architectures and lots of sockets and shared memory.”

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