Here Comes POWER10

Early in my writing about computers Intel began regularly introducing a series of x86 processors, including one called Pentium. Another IT analyst friend was drooling over his purchase of a laptop built on the new Pentium. “This is a mainframe in a laptop!” he exclaimed. It wasn’t but sounded exciting.

IBM POWER10

IBM’s latest technology announcement now is the new POWER10, expected in the second half of 2021. According to IBM’s announcement, the new processor delivers 3X performance based on pre-silicon engineering analysis of Integer, Enterprise, and Floating Point environments on a POWER10 dual socket server offering with 2×30-core modules vs a POWER9 dual socket server offering with 2×12-core modules. More power for sure, but you won’t find DancingDinosaur, apologies to my old friend, even suggesting this is comparable to a mainframe. 

The IBM POWER10 was designed for enterprise hybrid cloud computing. The POWER10 uses a design focused on energy efficiency and performance in a 7nm form factor, fabricated by Samsung,  with an expected improvement of up to 3x greater processor energy efficiency, workload capacity, and container density than the current POWER9 processor.

This is a processor intended for today’s increasingly complex hybrid cloud workloads. To that end, IBM packed the processor with innovations, including:

    • IBM’s First Commercialized 7nm Processor that is expected to deliver up to a 3x improvement in capacity and processor energy efficiency within the same power envelope as IBM POWER9, allowing for greater performance.
    • Support for Multi-Petabyte Memory Clusters with a new technology called Memory Inception, designed to improve cloud capacity and economics for memory-intensive workloads. Memory Inception enables any of the IBM POWER10 processor-based systems to share memory and drive cost and energy savings.
    • New Hardware-Enabled Security Capabilities including transparent memory encryption designed to support end-to-end security.  IBM engineered the POWER10 processor to achieve significantly faster encryption performance with quadruple the number of AES encryption engines per core compared to IBM POWER9 for today’s most demanding standards and anticipated future cryptographic standards like quantum-safe cryptography and fully homomorphic encryption, (FHE), which let’s you perform computation directly on the data wherever it lands while it remains encrypted. Sounds ideal for hybrid clouds. It also brings new enhancements to container security.
    • New Processor Core Architectures in the IBM POWER10 processor with an embeddedC. which is extrapolated to provide 10x, 15x and 20x faster AI inference for FP32, BFloat16 and INT8 calculations per socket respectively than the IBM POWER9 processor, while improving performance for enterprise AI inference workloads.

Designed over five years with hundreds of new and pending patents, the IBM POWER10 processor includes  innovations like:

    • Support for Multi-Petabyte Memory Clusters, which leverages Memory Inception, designed to improve cloud capacity and economics for memory-intensive workloads.
    • New Hardware-Enabled Security Capabilities including transparent memory encryption designed to support end-to-end security. The POWER10 processor is engineered to achieve significantly faster encryption performance with quadruple the number of AES encryption engines per core compared to IBM POWER9. It handles the most demanding standards and anticipated future cryptographic standards like quantum-safe cryptography and fully homomorphic encryption. It also brings new enhancements to container security. 
    • New Processor Core Architectures in the IBM POWER10 processor with an embedded Matrix Math Accelerator, which is extrapolated to provide 10x, 15x and 20x faster AI inference for FP32, BFloat16 and INT8 calculations per socket respectively to infuse AI into business applications.

With the 7nm processor not shipping until the second half of 2021, you have time to think about this. IBM has not mentioned pricing or packaging. Notes Stephen Leonard, GM of IBM Cognitive Systems. “With IBM POWER10 our stated goal of making Red Hat OpenShift the default choice for hybrid cloud. IBM POWER10 brings hardware-based capacity and security enhancements for containers to the IT infrastructure level.” Translation: POWER10 won’t come cheap.

With only a vague shipping date and no hint of pricing and packaging, you have time to think about fitting POWER10 into your plans.

Alan Radding, a veteran information technology analyst, writer, and ghost-writer, is DancingDinosaur. Follow DancingDinosaur on Twitter, @mainframeblog, and see more of his work at http://technologywriter.com/.

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