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IBM Reveals New Virtual Linux Environment 96

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the pave-the-way dept.
jenwren1010 writes to mention that IBM has just announced the new open beta version of their virtual Linux environment that allows users to run x86 Linux programs on POWER processor-based IBM System p servers. "Designed to reduce power, cooling and space by consolidating x86 Linux workloads on System p servers, it will eventually be released as the [rolls-off-the-tongue] 'IBM System p Application Virtual Environment (System p AVE).' With a 31.5% global revenue share during 2006, IBM hopes to build on System p UNIX success and extend firmly into the Linux marketplace. Considering there are almost 2,800 applications that already run natively on Linux on System p servers, the chances are good that it will succeed."
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IBM Reveals New Virtual Linux Environment

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  • This is the point. (Score:4, Informative)

    by HockeyPuck (141947) on Monday April 23, 2007 @04:42PM (#18846051)
    In the current generation of Power CPUs, you can implement micropartitions, akin to "this partition uses .1 CPUs", which if you've got spare computational power available on your AIX system, you could create additional partitions for X86 use. Also, since the partitions have the ability to communicate directly with each other without going over an external network, you could have in one chassis an AIX database with a linux based webserver in different partitions, both sharing the same fibrechannel cards and external gigE/10Gig network connections.
  • More details (Score:5, Informative)

    by aktzin (882293) on Monday April 23, 2007 @05:18PM (#18846549)
    The article and press release don't say much, but I found this announcement on the IBM web site: http://www-03.ibm.com/systems/p/linux/systempave.h tml [ibm.com]

    At the bottom are some good details:

    "Runs most x86 Linux applications except those that * Directly access HW; * Are hardware architecture specific; * Provide unique kernel modules; or * Use instructions added later than the Pentium II processor, e.g. SSE2."

    "All application components and plug-ins must meet these qualifications. Support for x86 Linux applications requires an Red Hat 4 update 4 or Novell SLES 9 with Service Pack 3 of the Linux operating system."

  • Re:What's the point? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Kadin2048 (468275) <[slashdot.kadin] [at] [xoxy.net]> on Monday April 23, 2007 @05:46PM (#18846875) Homepage Journal
    Yeah I originally thought it was a compatibility layer that would let you run x86/Linux apps on POWER/AIX, but I don't think it's quite that.

    From TFA:

    IBM expects ISVs that don't already have a native Linux on POWER product to be able to expand their addressable market to System p servers at minimal cost by allowing them to run their existing x86 Linux applications on these servers without having to recompile, release new media or documentation, or maintain a unique product offering for POWER technology.
    So basically it's a way of taking x86/Linux binaries and running them on POWER/Linux without a recompile. (And, one assumes, if you're an end-user, without going back to the software's manufacturer and paying through the nose for a new POWER version; you can move from x86 to POWER and still use all your same apps, without buying new versions.)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 23, 2007 @05:52PM (#18846951)
    PowerPC is not designed to emulate other arch.

    Good point of designed (compared to x86),
    1) It is a 64-bit architecture with 2 adressing mode 32-bit and 64-bit. Some implementations (ex: from Motorola in Mac) were implementing only the 32-bit portion. But the arch itself has been designed 64-bit from the start.

    2) Virtualization. There are issues with the x86 that makes it difficult to virtualize. The PowerPC does not have these issues.

    POWER. There is the old POWER architecture.

    But when we talk about IBM POWER servers (processors POWER3 and up), they follow the PowerPC architecture not the old POWER architecture. It is a little bit confusing because the POWER name sticked with the family of CPUs for the servers. But the architecture (instruction set) is PowerPC on those CPUs. Unless you have a very old POWER1 or POWER2 machine.

  • Re:What's the point? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Chanc_Gorkon (94133) <gorkon@@@gmail...com> on Monday April 23, 2007 @06:12PM (#18847183)
    Some good points, however the term big iron should not be applied here. Big iron would be a mainframe. Pseries machines are very powerful, however, they are very different in technology then a mainframe. They are a hybridization of technology that IBM built with POWER and of Mainframe like techn0ologies.

    This is a great idea. With micro partitioning on the pSeries and automatic load balancing, us pSeries admins don't need to learn VMware to run a farm of x86 based servers. Also, while most things are running on POWER already, sometimes it's not convenient to find binaries that will run on it plus how many of us have a spare pSeries machine just for compiles?? Also, there's a metric tone of commercial apps that run on x86 Linux and not many of them that run on PPC based distros.
  • Re:What's the point? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Gooner (28391) on Monday April 23, 2007 @07:30PM (#18847995)
    Well one reason it's useful is that it's possible to partition POWER servers down to tenths of a CPU so it's easy to find space to run something like p-AVE. Another is that SLES is licensed by the box rather than by CPUs or LPARs so anything that helps get more apps to run is a good thing.

    I've got a 16 CPU P570 here at work and we run Linux on it exclusively due to the cost, as AIX means that you get soaked on costlier licenses. I've done my share of trying to get apps (primarily statistical programs) to work on the POWER CPU. I got R to work but there plenty of other programs that either don't have source or won't compile cleanly though part of that is almost certainly due to my GCC n00bishness so being able to run the x86 version right away is compelling.

    I'm also beta-testing p-AVE right now. It works and is easy to get up and running. It's slow right now though compared to something that can run on POWER. It's interesting that this isn't an IBM product. It is from the same company who made Rosetta for Apple, namely Transitive Corp. So in one product you're going from PowerPC to Intel and the other goes Intel to POWER. It looks like IBM are going to do what Apple did and swallow the cost for end-users (or maybe make it back in Global Services consulting fees).
  • Re:Too late (Score:3, Informative)

    by Lemming Mark (849014) on Monday April 23, 2007 @07:53PM (#18848227) Homepage
    Qemu could run an x86 OS inside a PPC OS. Actually, Qemu can provide a user-level binary translation layer to apps, including translating syscalls appropriately - you don't have to emulate a whole system, the app has its own sandbox that looks like the foreign architecture.
  • Re:More details (Score:3, Informative)

    by Lorkki (863577) on Tuesday April 24, 2007 @07:17AM (#18853129)
    This likely isn't something that would just work on your PowerPC desktop anyway. The POWER architecture is aimed at a completely different market, for bigger servers and the like, and the instruction set is a superset of PPC's. Moreover, games these days use various HAL APIs to talk with acceleration hardware rather than directly accessing it - you'd want something like WINE with an x86 emulator, but DOSBox is available for PPC platforms if you need to run those older titles.

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