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This Is What The Most Powerful Server In The World Looks Like

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While we are big fans of distributed computing systems here at The Next Platform, we never forget our heritage in big iron. And we never forget the
important place that big, fat, shared memory NUMA systems still play in the spectrum of compute in the datacenter. And we like big iron, just like we like muscle cars and beater trucks.

So it is with a certain amount of enthusiasm that we have been anticipating the launch of IBM's first server based on its "Cirrus" Power10 chip: the "Denali" Power E1080 system. We don't see a lot of big iron around these datacenter parts anymore. And in fact, there are fewer and fewer manufacturers of these NUMA systems. It has basically come down to IBM with the 16-socket Power E1080 and with the future 16-socket System z16 based on the "Telum" processor we told you about a few weeks ago, the "DragonHawk" Superdome Flex 280 machines from Hewlett Packard Enterprise, based on a mix of the HP Superdome X and SGI NUMAlink 8 technologies like the Superdome Flex before it and using the "Cooper Lake" Xeon SP 8380H processors from Intel. There are, of course, a selection of four-socket and eight-socket servers based on the Cooper Lake Xeon SPs from the major OEMs and ODMs as well, but this is not truly big iron as we know it.

The new IBM machine is, of course, named after the tallest mountain in North America, which is in Alaska and which rises 20,194 feet above sea level. One therefore expects that the Power E1180 due around 2024 using the Power11 chip will be called Aconcagua (after the second highest peak in the world, in Argentina, at 22,837 feet) and that the Power 1280 due around 2027 will be called Everest after the world's highest peak (29,032 feet) in the Himalayas.

After that, with a possible Power 1380, we have to go to Mars to find a taller peak — Olympus Mons, the shield volcano that is a staggering 72,000 feet high. Or, maybe by 2030 or so, IBM will be done with the NUMA processor business and naming won't be an issue. It is hard to say. But if that does happen, the Power11 and Power12 could service IBM's customers for a very long time, with there being no real…
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