Tuesday, October 5, 2010

US Department of Energy: No POWER Upgrade From IBM

US Department of Energy: No POWER Upgrade From IBM


Some ay no one was ever fired for buying IBM, but no government or business ever got trashed for buying SPARC. The United States Department of Energy bought an IBM POWER system with no upgrade path and no long term spare parts.

[IBM Proprietary POWER Multi-Chip Module]


The U.S. Depertmant of Energy purchased a petaflops-class hybrid blade supercomputer called the IBM "Roadrunner" that performed into the multi-petaflop range for nuclear simulations at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. It was based upon the IBM Blade platform. Blades were based upon an AMD Opteron and hybrid IBM POWER / IBM Cell architecture. A short article was published in October 2009 in The Register.

Today's IBM:

A month later, the super computer was not mentioned at the SC09 Supercomputin Trade Show at Oregon, because IBM killed it. Apparently, it was killed off 18 months earlier - what a waste of American tax payer funding!

Tomorrow's IBM:

In March 2010, it was published that IBM gave it's customers (i.e. the U.S. Government) three months to buy spares, because future hybrid IBM POWER / Cell products were killed. Just a few months ago, IBM demonstrated their trustworthlessness with their existing Thin Client customers and partners by abandoning their thin client partnership and using the existing partner to help fund IBM's movement to a different future thin client partner!

Obama Dollars:

It looks like some remaining Democratic President Obama stimulus dollars will be used to buy a new super computer from Cray and cluster from SGI. The mistake of buying IBM was so huge that it took a massive spending effort from the Federal Government to recover from losing money on proprietary POWER.

[Fujitsu SPARC64 VII Processor]

[Oracle SPARC T3 Processor]
Lessons Learned:
If only the U.S. Government did not invest in IBM proprietary POWER, but had chosen an open CPU architecture like SPARC, which offers two hardware vendors: Oracle/Sun and Fujitsu.

[SUN UltraSPARC T2; Used in Themis Blade for IBM Blade Chassis]

Long Term Investment:

IBM POWER is not an open processor advocated by other systems vendor. Motorola abandoned the systems market for POWER from a processor production standpoint. Even Apple abandoned POWER on the desktop & server arena. One might suppose that when IBM kills a depended upon product, that one could always buy video game consoles and place them in you lights-out data center, but that is not what the Department of Energy opted for.

Oracle/Sun has a reputation of providing support for systems a decade old, and if necessary, Open SPARC systems and even blades for other chassis can be (and are) built by other vendors(i.e. Themis built an Open SPARC blade for an IBM Blade chassis.) SPARC processors have been designed & produced by different processor and system vendors for over a decade and a half. SPARC is a well proven long term investment in the market.

Network Management Connection:

If you need to build a Network Operation Center, build it upon the infrastructure the global telecommunications providers had trusted for over a decade: SPARC & Solaris. One will not find serious network management applications on IBM POWER, so don't bother wasting time looking. There are reasons for it.

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