A baby Power10, if you're desperate


Are you really desperate to have your own Power10 (libre issues notwithstanding) while we wait for S1? IBM historically releases "little" versions of their servers after the launch systems have exhausted their novelty and now it's time for this generation's. If you've got 2Us in your rack, a wad of money in your wallet and an IBM salesdroid in your Rolodex, in about a month the Power S1012 could be yours.

Based on the size of the board, no one would mistake this for a Blackbird, yet it's pretty much the IBM equivalent: a single socket supporting up to eight cores. It comes as either a rackmount or in IBM's mega-tower case with four RAM slots for up to 256GB of memory. Tape and RAID are options, and it boots Linux, AIX or IBM i. If you need more sockets, there's the S1022 with a second one in the same form factor, and if you need more capacity, the 4U S1014 has you covered — and is still tower-ready in the same way that Orson Welles was suit-ready.

IBM hasn't shown as much love for their baby towers recently, though. In fact, there wasn't an IBM 2U option at all in POWER9's generation (no doubt much to Raptor's relief); if you wanted Big Blue in a Littler Box, you had to buy the 4U S914 instead (or a leftover POWER8 S812). Also, it seems like the S1012 tower's power output is gimped somewhat: the spec sheet says the rackmount can put 240W through the single CPU socket but the tower manages "only" 195W, which limits your core count. In the glory days, though, we had things like this.

This is my long-trucking POWER6 p520, the 2U baby of the old POWER6 generation. You could get it with two sockets and the same CPUs as its larger siblings, and since the POWER6 was SMT-2, I've got four threads running on its single LPAR. It has RAID and an optical drive and 16GB of RAM, with more available if you were willing to do battle with IBM Capacity on Demand codes. All in all, not bad for 2009.

Of course, I'm being very facetious in this article, because naturally none of these towers are really workstation substitutes. The S1012 (and certainly the S1022) is undoubtedly as loud as the POWER6, and while the POWER6's back baffle reduces some of the noise, it correspondingly reduces ventilation. There's a reason, after all, that I gave the thing its own room with the other geriatric servers. Plus, IBM doesn't talk to us end users: you'll have to buy it through a VAR or authorized rep. That was why I said screw it to buying a brand-spanking new POWER7 back in the day and got the POWER6, because it was used, cheaper and actually available. Which reminds me — if you have to ask how much it is, you almost certainly can't afford it. Hope you've been saving your pennies for the S1.

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