3 Things You Need to Know About POWER8

The POWER8 processor and architecture has been around for almost 12 months now, and it appears IBM’s bet on focussing POWER8 on big data and cloud requirements of mid tier and enterprise customers has paid off.

When the above video was made about 12 months ago, the world generated 2.3 trillion gigabytes of data every day. About 90% of all data in the world today was generated in the past two years.

This is putting increasing demands on infrastructure to process and store information, and IBM build POWER8 to start to address this issue.


IBM has retooled all of their architectural pathways across computing power, memory bandwidth and I/O to deliver blisteringly fast performance. The POWER8 architecture has more threads per core and and when it launched offered an out of the box 30-50% improvement in application performance over the latest generation POWER7 systems.

Even though we’ve all probably become tired of the “bigger, faster, better” messaging that accompanies all new hardware releases, speed still delivers a competitive edge to businesses that leverage it particularly in analytics and insight generation.

2) IBM POWER8 targets Linux

If you’re an AIX house and are committed to staying the course, POWER8 represents a simple upgrade path and no reason to hesitate in upgrading. POWER8 will add years to your install.

However, IBM is now aggressively targeting Linux workloads and has added an impressive stable of Linux distribution partners to the mix. Both Google and Facebook, heavy Linux shops, have indicated an interest in the POWER8 architecture, whilst being tight lipped about how far they will support it, but Google is taking its contribution to the OpenPower initiative quite seriously.

3) IBM OpenPower Initiative

So, if Google is interested in OpenPower, what is it? Effectively OpenPower open sources the POWER8 architecture meaning it now is on the same playing field as x86 and ARM. What this means for the industry is beyond the scope of this post, but it also remains to be seen what is in it for IBM over the long term as the initiative is only 12 months old.. Can they monetise an open source hardware architecture in a meaningful way? Regardless, OpenPower is highly beneficial for the ecosystem and should lend confidence to the longevity of POWER based architecture for existing clients now that IBM has opened the kimono.


AIX users should very seriously consider upgrading to POWER8 if they already haven’t, but if your workload is primarily Linux based, you now have another hardware option in a very aggressively competitive IBM who are throwing everything at the x86 market.