IBM P5 System Shatters Computing Benchmark

IBM said its 64-way eSeries p5 595 has surpassed three million transactions per minute on the TPC-C benchmark, a measure that beat rival HP in price-to-performance ratio by 37 percent.

The TPC-C, the trademark name for the Transaction Performance Processing Council,
is widely considered the most important test for measuring system performance, tallying how many transactions a computer can manage in a commercial environment, such as simulating the computing traffic in a bank. IBM and rival server vendor HP often use the TPC-C as a selling tool for customers, while Sun has not posted a TPC-C benchmark since 2001.

Adalio Sanchez, general manager of IBM’s eServer pSeries in IBM Systems Group, said on a conference call that 3,210,540 million transactions per minute would shatter existing marks and more than tripled the previous high of 1,008,144 transactions per minute set by HP’s 64-way Integrity Superdome.

Ironically, Sanchez said the machine also knocked out the Armonk, N.Y., company’s own p690 machine, which had sat in first since last January with a TPC of 1,025,486. The p5 595 was tested running IBM’s DB2 database and AIX 5L V5.3 operating system on a 1.9 gigahertz chip. It also posted a cost of $5.19 per transaction to the Superdome’s $8.33.

The executive, responsible for girding IBM’s systems group to grab larger chunks of what IDC says is a $21 billion opportunity for Unix servers, didn’t make the news any easier to swallow for HP. The executive was bold in his statements on the call.

“The eServer p5 system now holds the number one TPC-C position, breaking the existing barrier and shattering the competition’s dream of leapfrogging this record for a long time to come,” Sanchez said. “The integration of our technologies up and down the stack is really changing the game here. In fact, it may be over.”

Sanchez also nodded to Big Blue’s future, claiming IBM’s lead in performance would only increase because the Power6 architecture is well into development, with Power7 development “on the drawing board.”

Analysts believe IBM’s aggressive p5 push will help catapult the Armonk, N.Y., company to the top of the Unix heap, considerably up from what IBM executives have themselves described as the doldrums.

Just four years ago, Big Blue garnered a 15 percent share of the Unix
market, compared to 30 percent each by HP and Sun, according to IDC. The turnaround began in 2001 when IBM released its Power4 line and began steadily chipping away at its rivals’ ownership.

Thanks to the success of the Power4 systems, IBM currently holds a 25
percent share, IDC said. It hopes to expand that considerably with the Power5 line.

The latest developments come about a month after IBM rolled
the eServer p5 595 and eServer i5 595 64-way servers, as well as a smaller 32-way p5 590 server. The 64-way p595 costs $3.2 million with the 1.65 Ghz and $4.1 million for the 1.9 Ghz version.

The systems are slated to be available tomorrow. But in related news, IBM said national defense specialist Raytheon Company has already acquired the p5 595 to handle weather information compiled by environmental satellites orbiting the Earth for the DoD, NOAA and NASA.

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