IBM Makes Your Linux Run

All Linux x86 applications will now run on IBM’s Power processor-based
System p servers.

The new capability dramatically expands the application availability for
IBM’s Power by enabling x86 Linux apps to run without
modification through a new technology IBM is calling System p Application
Virtual Environment (System p AVE).

“We have a lot of Linux on Power apps — some 2,800 native ones — but a lot of
times when customers do a server consolidation, it’s not just the main
applications that need to run,” Scott Handy, vice president of worldwide
marketing and strategy for System p, told

“We expect
the main workloads will all fit in the 2,800 apps we already have, but it’s
all the other apps that need to work, too.”

The way that p AVE works, according to Handy, is entirely seamless to end
users. The system will automatically determine what is native and what is virtual without user intervention or setup.

So you could have an Apache Web server running as native Linux on Power, and then if you run some
other Linux x86 binary, the OS would realize it’s not native Power and would
then pass it to p AVE, which would then run it in the p AVE environment.

Not all Linux applications should necessarily be run on p AVE, though. Handy
noted there is a performance trade off with p AVE as opposed to running an
application natively on Power.

“The performance characteristics will depend on the types of workloads. We
expect Java to perform well, but with certain applications, the performance hit
could be in the range of 10 percent,” Handy said. “If the application is a
heavily performance-oriented application, it’s probably not the best
candidate for p AVE.”

For those applications that are resource hungry, Handy suggests that they
should just take advantage of IBM’s Chiphopper program and port their apps to
Power. In Handy’s view, it’s not too difficult, as all that is required is a
recompile of code targeted for Power.

IBM currently works with Novell and Red Hat for its Linux on Power efforts. According to Handy the companies have agreed to include
their x86 libraries as part of their Power versions once the p AVE
technology become generally available.

Currently IBM has had a private beta, which is now expanding into an open
beta for system p users. The final full release is not expected until later
this year.

The p AVE technology will not be a direct-revenue generator for IBM. Handy
explained that IBM will not charge system p users extra for the technology
but will instead just consider it to be part of the overall value

“It’s really nice to just tell customers that no matter what the app is
it’ll work.”

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