“C” makes the E850 a BIG deal!
IBM delivered a modest upgrade to the entry level POWER8 Enterprise server going from the E850 to the E850C. The new features are seen with the processors, memory, Capacity on Demand and with bundled software.
The most exciting features available with the new E850C, which by the way comes with a new MTM of 8408-44E, are with the processors. You might think I’d say that but here is why the E850C is the new “sweet spot” server for AIX & Linux workloads that require a mix of performance, scalability and reliability features.
A few things that are the same on the E850C as it was the E850.
- Classified as a “small” tier server
- Available with a 3 year 24 x 7 warranty
- PVU for IBM software is 100 when using AIX
- PVU for IBM software is 70 when using Linux
- Supports IFL’s or Integrated Facility for Linux
- Offers CuOD, Trial, Utility and Elastic CoD
- Does NOT offer mobile cores or mobile memory (boo hiss)
- Does NOT support Enterprise Pools (boo hiss)
The original 8408-E8E aka E850 was available with 32 cores at 3.72, 40 cores at 3.35 and 48 cores at 3.02 GHz, initially support 2 TB of DDR3 memory and eventually up to 4 TB of DDR3 of memory. Using up to 4 x 1400W power supplies, due to its dense packaging what it did not offer was the option to exploit EnergyScale allowing users to decrease or increase the processor clock speeds. The clock speeds were capped at their nominal speeds of 3.72, 3.35 and 3.02 GHz not allowing users to select if one of several options from do nothing to lower or increase based on utilization or lower to a set point and more importantly, increase to the higher rate. This is free performance – rPerf in the case of AIX.
Focusing on the processor increase, because who the hell wants to run their computers slower, the E850C has a modest increase ranging from 2.5% to 4.6%. I say modest because the other POWER8 models range from 4% up to 11% <play Tim Allen “grunt” from Home Improvement>. This modest increase doesn’t matter because the new C model delivers 32 cores at 4.22 nominal increasing to 4.32 GHz, 40 cores at 3.95 nominal increasing to 4.12 GHz and 48 cores at 3.65 nominal increasing to 3.82 GHz. These speeds are at the high end for every Scale-out server and consistent with on part with the E870C/E880C models.
Putting these performance increases into perspective; comparing nominal rPerf values for the E850 vs E850C show this: 32 core E850C with an increase of 59 rPerf. 40 core E850C with an increase of 88 rPerf and the 48 core E850C delivering a rPerf increase of 113. By doing nothing but increasing the clock speed, the 48 core E850C is delivering an rPerf increase equivalent to a POWER6 570 with 16 cores.
It hasn’t been mentioned yet but the E850 & E850C uses a 4U chassis. Looking at the 48 core E850C just mentioned, it delivers an rPerf level of 859. Compare this to the 16U POWER7+ 770 (9117-MMD) with 64 cores that delivers only 729 rPerf or going back to the initial 770 model 9117-MMB with 48 cores in a 16U footprint delivering 464 rPerf. Using the MMD values, this is a 4:1 footprint reduction, an 18% increase in rPerf with a 25% reduction in cores – why does that matter? Greater core strength means fewer OS & virtualization licenses & SWMA but more importantly – less enterprise software licensing such as Oracle Enterprise DB.
IBM achieved this a couple of ways. Not being an IBMer, I do not have all of the techniques but by increasing the chip efficiency, increasing the power supplies to 2000W each and moving to DDR4 memory which uses less power.
Besides the improvement in clock speeds and bumping memory to DDR4, the E850C reduces the number of minimum active cores. Every E850C must have a minimum of 2 processor books; 2×8, 2×10 or 2×12 core while only requiring 8, 10 or 12 cores being active depending on the model of processor book used. The E850 required all cores in the first 2 processor books to be active. This change in the E850C is another benefit to clients to get into the “sweet spot” server with a lower entry price. Same memory activations of 50% of the installed memory or 128 GB whichever is more.
A couple of nice upgrades from the E850 that are now standard. Active Memory Mirroring and PowerVM Enterprise Edition are now standard while still offering a 3 year 24 x 7 warranty (except Japan).
The E850C does not support IBM i, but it does support AIX 6.1, 7.1 and 7.2 (research specific versions at System Software Maps) and the usual Linux distro’s.
Software bundle enhancements over the E850 are:
- Starter pack for SoftLayer
- IBM Cloud HMC apps
- IBM Power to Cloud Rewards
- PowerVM Enterprise Edition
Even though it isn’t bundled in, consider using IBM Cloud PowerVC Manager, which is included with the AIX Enterprise Edition bundle or à la carte with AIX Standard Edition or any Linux distro.
The E850C is a power-packed compact package. With up to 48 cores and 4 TB Ram in a 4U footprint, it is denser than 2 x 2U S822’s with 20 cores / 1 TB RAM or the 1 x 4U S824 with 24 cores / 2 TB RAM. Yes the E870C with 40 cores or the E880C with 48 cores, both with 8 TB of RAM in a single node still require 7U to start with. If clients require the greatest scalability, performance, flexibility and reliability they should look at the E870C or E880C but for a lower entry price that delivers high performance in a compact solution the E850C delivers the complete package.