Small but Efficient: The POWER that may drive your business for a reasonable price.
February 04, 2021

Small but Efficient: The POWER that may drive your business for a reasonable price.

Anonymous | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 9 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Modules Used

  • Power System S924

Overall Satisfaction with IBM Power

I find the S924 as a good choice for both small companies and large enterprises. It has enough processing power to consolidate the workloads of dozens and even hundreds of virtual machines (LPARs).

Maximum configuration: 2 POWER9 processor modules for a total of 24 cores, and this is what I recommend. If so many resources, even with the forecast of 5-year growth, are not required, take a closer look at the smaller S914 or S922 models. They are quite similar, but cheaper because of less scalability.

If you use software licensed under the PVU terms, then its advantage is that 1 core is evaluated at 70 PVUs, while in bigger models it is equivalent to 100 or 120 PVUs per core. The server is also quite suitable as a platform for a database: up to 4 terabytes of RAM, 11 full-size PCIe Gen4 slots.
For a relatively small database, internal disks may be enough. With the dual-split backplane option and RAID adapters you can provide fast and reliable storage even without SAN.
For bigger databases, surely it's better to use SAN-attached drives. For extra PCI adapters and better hot-plug options, use IO Expansion Drawers.
  • Expensive PVU-licensed SW consolidation. Mostly, Websphere products.
  • Dedicated database server.
  • Mixed AIX, Linux, IBM i environmnet for test and development.
  • Not enough PCI slots if you need a lot of IO adapers, especially high-performance ones. There are 11 slots and only 3 of them are 16x. Additional IO Expansion Drawer solves this issue.
  • There are no cores or memory activation options. So there is no possibility to pay only for needed capacity. All resources are active when installed. But the cost of resources are smaller than in the E950 or E980.
  • Historically there are no upgrade paths from POWER8-based S824 to S924. By the way, a lot of components may be reused: memory DIMMs, internal disks, PCI adapters, IO Drawers.
  • It's possible to significantly save on SW running costs when migrating from POWER7 based servers. From my experience, average performance ratio on CPU-intensive workloads is at least 2.5, that means I need 4 POWER9 cores instead of 10 POWER7 ones.
  • HW support costs. S924 is categorized as the 'small processor group' that means it's HWMA and SWMA (support prices) are lower than at the Enterprise-class servers.
  • Scalability. If comparing with smaller S914 and S922 servers, there is a little bit more processing capacity. It costs, but it may save much more when after 3 years you will notice that there is still enough room to growth instead of buying a new server.
Surely there are some alternatives. I always take a look at the whole product line when making a choice.
So they are:
They are very similar, but smaller. 8 and 20 cores max respectively. Even literally: S922 is 2U, while S922 is 4U in the 19'' rack. Their main benefit is the list price. So if you are absolutely sure that 24 core are too much in 5 years forecast, take a look on them. My opinion that the only considerable S924 configurations are 22 (but very fast) and 24 cores based.
Don't look at the number of cores only: check the core's rPerf too.

Capacity on Demand: CPU and memory activations are the main benefits. Pay as your business growth. The max capacity also counts: 40 cores and 8Tb RAM. Think that you may not fit in the S924? Consider this option. Keep in mind that IBM i is not supported on E950.

It's another world. With POWER Enterprise Pools you may move cores and memory activations between such servers. The scalability is the best. If your business is big enough.

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Expensive PVU-licensed SW consolidation: With the MSPP (Multiply Shared Processor Pools) it's possible to efficiently host dozens of LPARs with a 'price' of only 70 PVUs per core. If you plan the upgrade from older POWER-based server, the rPerf performance metrics really works, especially with CPU-intensive workloads. POWER vs x86? Look at the industrial benchmarks, like SPEC CPU, SPEC jbb. Don't forget to take in the consideration S924 virtualization capabilities.

Dedicated database server: If there is a need for a dedicated DB server, then my choice is S924. From experience I can say that both the option with internal disks and storage systems are worthy of consideration. In the case of SAN-attached storage, be sure to consider connecting an additional IO Expansion Drawer. I would like to draw your attention to this. Adapters in the drawer are easier to replace than in the server itself, in addition, in fact, one drawer consists of two independent modules, which makes it possible to build a fault-tolerant solution.

Mixed AIX, Linux, IBM i environmnet for test and development: Unlike the E950, IBM i is supported on the S924. In such configuration I may recommend to use the dual-VIOS configuratrion with fully virtualized IO.