IBM drops flash SSDs onto POWER lineup

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Late last week IBM announced it is adding flash-based SSDs to it POWER line of servers; IBM’s System x and BladeCenter servers and System Storage DS8000 line got their SSD injection some time ago. The company joins many other hardware OEMs taking this step.

IBM’s release doesn’t have many details, but Timothy Prickett Morgan at The Register does

IBM logoThe SSDs are not the same units it announced in March for its System x and BladeCenter x64-based servers. IBM is taking a 128 GB Zeus-IOP flash drive from STEC, with whom it inked a partnership earlier this month, and formatting it down to 69 GB. The reformatting allows IBM to perform “wear levelling” on the flash memory cells used in the SSD, moving data to cells as they wear out and thereby extending the life of the overall drive significantly.

This is the same approach that others, such as Spansion, are taking with their SSDs to manage wear. Since AIX and the other supported OS’s don’t have features to automatically find and migrate frequently used bytes to SSD, IBM has added their own code to do that

None of these operating systems have features that automatically move data and programs that are frequently used to SSDs from disk drives, so IBM has created a program called SSD Data Balancer that lets system administrators do an analysis of their running workloads and then move data to the SSDs to boost system performance. Over time, IBM expects to put features in AIX, i, and Linux that do this work automatically, tuning data sets to take advantage of the SSDs in systems.

Note: like many things from IBM, the SSDs will set you back

You can see now why IBM is charging customers using its entry Power 520 and 550 rack servers and BladeCenter JS23 and JS43 blade servers $10,000 a pop for a single SSD, and why those using its larger Power 560 and 570 systems have to pay $13,235 for a single drive….Compare those SSD prices to a 139 GB (for i 6.1) or 146 GB (for AIX and Linux) 15K RPM SAS drive on Power Systems, which has a list price of $498. So IBM is charging 20 to 26.5 times the cost of disks for its SSD, which delivers three times the improvement in I/O performance over disks.


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