Power Systems

POWER9: A chip’s trip around the world

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IBM Systems introduced the first of many POWER9 servers a couple of months ago with the best platform for enterprise AI. The IBM Power System AC922 has capabilities spanning AI, deep learning and machine learning. In fact, the entire POWER9 family is evolutionary and brings data-intensive computing for whatever your business needs, no matter the current state of your system infrastructure. POWER9 is the only processor with state-of-the-art I/O subsystem technology, including next-generation NVIDIA NVLink, PCIe Gen4 and OpenCAPI.

In celebration of the POWER9 server family, we are sending the core of our servers, the POWER9 chip, around the world. Literally. Think Flat Stanley meets the inner IT dork. Over the next couple of months we will be sending the chip to different cities around the world to explore the stories of POWER9. Technology truly is everywhere, and so is POWER9. So, where do we begin our journey?

We begin right here in Austin, Texas, home of the engineering and development of the IBM POWER9 chip. To kick off POWER9 Around the World, we spent time in the Systems Lab in Austin to give you a sneak peek as the chip is carefully constructed to deliver innovation for today and tomorrow’s workloads. We got a look inside the POWER9-based AC922 server, the foundation for what will be the largest supercomputer in the world. (That might be a hint at one of the next stops along the POWER9 tour!). After the lab tour, the POWER9 chip became a tourist in Austin, stopping by some of the city’s most famous landmarks before I packed it carefully in my suitcase and took it with me to Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the second stop on the tour.

Oak Ridge, Tennessee: Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Summit Supercomputer

To Tennessee it is! Just outside of Knoxville is home to Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), the United States’ largest multi-program science and technology lab. It is also home to the IBM-powered Summit supercomputer, one of the world’s largest supercomputers with 4,200 nodes. And this beast of a supercomputer is fast. How fast we talking? Over 200 petaflops.

While on site, I was able to see the massive space that houses Summit and an intricate water cooler system built overhead. This is unique compared to the previous method of having raised floors with cooling systems underneath. And did you know that there is a swimming pool’s worth of water used to cool these systems? It’s truly incredible. I wish you could see it! Oh wait, you can. Check out the video compilation below.

Grand Rapids, Michigan: IBM Champion Richie Palma, took the POWER9 chip around his hometown

For the third stop of the tour, we boxed up the chip and sent it to Richie Palma, an IBM Champion and Tech Solutions Consultant at Arbor Solutions Inc. Before the tour, we asked Richie his thoughts on being an IBM Champion. “It has opened up an ecosystem that has facilitated so much growth for me personally and professionally.  Having access to the amazing people who are paving the way for the future of big compute almost takes you off guard at first,” he said.

Richie showed the POWER9 chip a good time with a tour around town and a stop in front of the popular Founder’s Brewing Company, because Grand Rapids is a beer city after all! The gracious host then took the chip on a datacenter site visit. Richie is a passionate promoter of the IBM i platform and helps customers migrate upgrade their environment for maximum performance. He also leads the Grand Rapids Midrange Meetup group. When asked to share his thoughts on POWER9, he said, “I think the greatest thing about POWER9 is where it puts us from an overall system bandwidth and performance against Intel. With more and more folks moving to co-located or hosted environments, the overall output per U of rack space becomes increasingly important.  POWER9 and its proprietary NVLink technology allows us to absolutely dominate this space and pack a big punch in a much smaller footprint.” We’re so thankful to Richie for being such a good host for the third stop of the POWER9 tour! Check out some photos he captured below.

Where to next? Stay tuned to find out.

Join in on the conversation and keep up with the journey using #POWER9tour on Twitter. Want your photo opp with the POWER9 chip? Consider joining us at IBM Think 2018 in March!

Social Media Strategist, IBM Power Systems

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