IBM puts 256 cores in a server

Big Blue has stuck 256 cores in one of its new Power 7 Unix servers.

According to IBM, Power 795 is IBM’s biggest Unix server to date. It will be aimed at outfits that want to run huge database applications but it could also be used to consolidate multiple Unix or Linux workloads onto a single system using IBM’s PowerVM virtualisation software.

It is unlikely that many outfits will need a 795 box to run a single, large application, and IBM thinks it is more likely to end up at the heart of consolidation projects.

If you have that many cores you don’t need so much energy and can conserve data enter floor space.

Each box can be broken up into 254 partitions and Biggish Blue places to increase that number to 1,000 next year when it completes the required testing.

The 795 has 8TB of main memory and uses eight processor “books” each with four Power7 processors.

Each of the chips have eight cores, which is an increase from two on the Power6. The new processors are compatible with Power6-based servers.

It seems odd that IBM is doing so much development work on Unix when indications have been that the OS was falling out of favour with big companies.

Unix revenue dropping 22 percent between 2008 and 2009, to $13.1 billion, according to IDC. However analysts are expecting the market to pick up slightly for the next year or two and this could mean IBM is quids in.

Big Blue has been flogging most Unix gear in each of the last three years and has about 40 per cent of the market.

IBM didn’t not say how much a 795 would set you back. Currently the press release says that it will start at $500,000.