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IBM Reveals New Virtual Linux Environment 96

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

    by Ed Avis ( 5917 ) <> on Monday April 23, 2007 @05:32PM (#18845873) Homepage
    I don't get it, aren't almost all Linux programs able to build for pretty much any architecture? The only use for emulation would be binary-only proprietary software that's built for x86 only. And even there it should be pretty trivial for the vendor to port it to POWER.
  • Power Saving? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hawg2k ( 628081 ) on Monday April 23, 2007 @05:33PM (#18845893) Homepage
    It's been my experience that IBM's power architecture isn't really known for being "green". Can anyone provide some expertise behind the statement that running Linux VM's on the P hardware will really save energy in heating and cooling over other concepts like a rack of 1-U rack servers, a VMWare/Xen type solution on x86 hardware, or some type of blade solution?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 23, 2007 @05:52PM (#18846193)
    Transitive has a news article ... it's them again, same tech provider as Apple uses for their Rosetta product (obviously, reverse of the technology, Intel -> PPC, instead of PPC -> Intel). []
  • Re:What's the point? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Tinkster ( 831703 ) on Monday April 23, 2007 @06:34PM (#18846759)
    That's one good and fair comment; the other thing is that you can have
    one of those big irons running an x86 Linux that will run your "commercial
    product of choice" which is certified against a specific version of Linux
    w/o having to buy x86 hardware and gain expertise in using VMWare as well...

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

    by Kadin2048 ( 468275 ) <slashdot.kadin@x[ ].net ['oxy' in gap]> on Monday April 23, 2007 @06:38PM (#18846793) Homepage Journal
    I think Power (according to IBM, anyway) offers a lot better performance/watt and scales better up to supercomputer-ish sizes.

    And I think you can even integrate x86 blades into some of IBM's high-end systems for running Linux x86 binaries; the idea is with this new virtual environment, you wouldn't need to purchase the additional hardware.

    I see this whole thing as basically a bullet point that they can use when selling POWER to a prospective client -- they can put it out there as one architecture that will run most anything. (Well, except Windows stuff.)
  • Re:Power Saving? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Chanc_Gorkon ( 94133 ) <{gorkon} {at} {}> on Monday April 23, 2007 @07:18PM (#18847263)
    You can buy ONE rack and it has 64 processors in it. Each of those 64 processors can be sheared down to 1/10th of a CPU partition. That would be 640 servers in one rack. Granted, you'd never want to run that many LPARS on a system, but you could come close. You can also share all 64 of these processors and each of the LPARS can look like a SMP system by setting a VP of 2 or higher. Granted alot of this will need proper tuning, but you can do a lot with a pSeries and shove alot of hardware into one rack. Also, with Partition Load manager, it can very how much CPU each partition gets by the load it's getting. Say one of the LPARS gets nailed all of a sudden. If the partition is uncapped or not reached it's cap, it can automatically grab as much CPU as needed.

    The pSeries machine CAN do what they describe.
  • I can buy a lot of commodity hardware and power it for $100,000. Let's just say a decent Pseries will be an order of magnitude more expensive for the initial purchase, never mind the annual support

    True. In my (admittedly limited) experience though, IBM hardware generally gets aimed at organizations whose IT budgets are already fairly big (I won't say "bloated"), and are paying through the nose for support already.

    If you're looking at commodity servers and supporting them yourself, you're probably not going to look at IBM; their customers are going to be choosing between IBM pSeries, and maybe Sun's high-end SPARC gear, or maybe HP 9000 series stuff. They're probably migrating up from superminis with atrocious support costs anyway (and they may only be migrating because their superminis are being EOLed -- I've run into lots of organizations who were perfectly okay paying the support for their legacy gear, until it was no longer supported), so a $100k IBM system could easily look like a savings over 5 years when you consolidate a dozen "small iron" Unix boxes onto it.

    I'm not exactly sure how they would find a cost savings if you were already just using cheap x86 servers, though. I guess they'd probably say 'consolidation,' but I don't know exactly how many commodity pizza-boxes you'd need to consolidate to pay for the TCO on a pSeries... I guarantee though if you called an IBM sales rep, they'd be able to make the numbers work, somehow.

    IBM's own page on "Why Linux on the POWER? []" is fairly interesting:

    The IBM System p(TM) server family and the IBM BladeCenter® JS21 blade server are packed with features designed to enable you to achieve lower costs and more flexibility, as well as have the peace of mind that comes from knowing your applications are available when you need them. Our leadership performance saves you money by providing exceptional performance per processor core and including up to 4 cores per socket. Unique IBM virtualization technologies are designed to dramatically increase server utilization by providing innovative capabilities that enable one server to act like many--while giving you the ability to automatically move more processing power to critical applications when needed. You can meet known and unknown processing requirements with fewer servers -- so hardware, software and facility costs go down. Finally, your Linux® applications on these systems will be available when you need them thanks to time-tested IBM reliability features.
    I think they're going for PHB appeal here. The idea is that you have one machine, one support contract, to one company, and that's the end of that. (In theory.)

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