What Does IBM Power10 Mean for IBM i?


In early September 2021, IBM announced the IBM Power10 processor chip. Along with Power10 comes the first server (the IBM Power E1080) with 7-nanometer capabilities, packing 18 billion transistors onto a single chip and delivering a 50 percent performance improvement over Power9. This kind of speed addresses many of the top concerns that IT teams face in the 2020s, which include cloud, artificial intelligence, availability, security, and scalability.

Why does this matter to the IBM i customer? It is all about the future. The IBM Power server can and often does host AIX, Linux, and IBM i on the same physical footprint. IBM continues to keep their IBM i and AIX customers on state-of-the-art, non-legacy hardware technology. In other words, not your grandfather’s AS/400.

This matters to you, the CIO, who needs to tell the board why you run on IBM i. The answer is the future protection of your business applications.

IBM Power E1080 Power10

IBM i on IBM Power, an Application System for Today

Remember, the original AS/400 was built for businesses, and businesses need applications—onsite or in the cloud—that are resilient and always available. For three decades, IBM i has been unique in protecting application investments for businesses by building new servers and new versions of the operating systems. In the late 1990s, IBM went from 32-bit to 64-bit technology, which allowed users to run the same applications after an object-level conversion. What’s more, most users were able to make this conversion in a single weekend.

Today, IBM Power servers running IBM i or AIX house the critical applications that run our banking industry, gaming, retail, insurance, manufacturing, transportation, and more. These applications host the transactional data that will continue to be available even as big data and security concerns cause IT professionals on other platforms to panic.

IBM and its partner network of independent software vendors (ISVs) can help you keep your IBM Power environments secure and automated. HelpSystems is one of those ISVs. Through our IBM i solution portfolio—including industry-leading software from our Robot and Powertech product lines—we have helped IBM Power customers in every industry around the world automate and protect their critical business data.

IBM Power10 Availability and Scalability

As we’ve said, fundamental features of the IBM i operating system have existed for years. From the very beginning, this system was made with business applications in mind and was built so that the hardware could evolve while business applications ran, with little or no interruption.

IBM Power servers are among the top servers in the world for reliability, boasting over a 99.999 percent reliability rating according recent ITIC reports. At HelpSystems, our software and services for IBM i high availability, data replication, backup/recovery, and disaster recovery help customers avoid disasters from major outages.

Similarly, scalability has been a two-decade win for the IBM Power server, and it got 50 percent more scalable with Power10. We know what the IBM Power server can do for organizations running standard IBM i, AIX, and Linux applications. With the E1080 server, IBM has blown out the benchmark for running SAP HANA. The numbers are 174,000 users and 955,050 SAPS (almost 1 million with only 120 cores), which results in about a 30 percent faster result with half the cores over HPE.

IBM Power10 in the Cloud

IBM Power servers can be located on-premises or in the cloud. Many vendors, including IBM, offer public cloud footprints with the IBM Power processor as the backbone for these workloads.

Cloud is important to many customers running IBM i as the shortage of IT professionals impacts all companies globally. The race to keep your IT advancing forces organizations on IBM i or AIX to want to get out of the business of managing the hardware and doing administrative tasks.

IBM Power Virtual Server (PowerVS) makes it possible even for the on-premises customer to have utility-based computing by offering pay-as-you-go for on-prem or in the cloud. The ecosystem around IBM i features a well-established set of managed service providers (MSPs) that can partner with IBM and other business partners (BPs) and independent software vendors (ISVs) to monitor, back up, and maintain the operating systems and its application. The win for any customer on IBM Power is that they get to focus on IT for the business.

IBM Power10 and Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI was delivered in the previous Power9 technology through GPU processors with the IC922 and AC922 servers. Given the speed of the Power10 chip, its on-chip machine learning inference technology makes better sense than the GPU technology of the Power9 chip. This gives customers business application data on IBM Power easier access from AI applications running directly on IBM Power10 servers. These traditional workloads will coexist with AI technology. IBM’s acquisition of RedHat gives customers the software stack that delivers AI from RedHat to achieve this, too.

IBM Power10 Security Considerations

Security is also an emphasis of Power10 servers. We know from the annual IBM i Marketplace Survey Results that security is the number one concern for most CIOs. The hardware itself now includes transparent memory encryption at 2.5 times the speed of AES encryption in Power9. This helps customers meet the demands of these security concerns for in-process business data.

Powertech cybersecurity software and services from HelpSystems offers additional tooling to help address virus protection, ransomware, compliance, multi-factor authentication (MFA), firewall, and more technologies around IBM i, AIX, and Linux running on IBM Power. If you are concerned, HelpSystems offers vulnerability scans and even free IBM i security analysis of the application and data.

How to Upgrade to IBM Power10 Hardware

IBM has invested billions on the new Power10 servers. The IBM i operating system benefits from this investment and it, too, receives the similar set of technology like SAN, SSD, and the Power10 chip, which is optimized for better security, cloud, AI, availability, and scalability.

As you look to upgrade your hardware, you should consider using our Performance Navigator software, which IBM Techline also uses to help customers size their next system on-premises or in the cloud. This technology works for customers using IBM i, AIX, or Linux. Why blindly upgrade when there is a solution to eliminate the guesswork?

If your organization is one of the smart/lucky ones that have stuck with IBM Power over the years, investing in new technology one decade does not mean you need to rewrite your application in the next decade. As IBM has evolved from AS/400 and RS6000 all the way up to Power10, your investment and total cost of ownership (TCO) gets better, and the hardware gets faster while continuing to run your business applications. And that means a heck of a lot to those of us on IBM i.

Power10 Power Hour

What does Power10 mean for your data center? Watch this webinar with Tom Huntington and IBM’s Dylan Boday and Dan Sundt for a discussion on why Power10 technology is the right strategic investment if you run IBM i, AIX, or Linux.