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Our company plan to upgrade our servers, and at the same, we would use AIX over Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

I asked my boss the reason of choosing AIX, he said it is because AIX is more powerful. I wonder if it is true.

Does AIX really out perform RHEL in terms of data processing? Only text data, no graphic processing.

They are AIX 7.1 and RHEL is "Red Hat Enterprise Linux AS release 3 (Taroon Update 2)". Assume we would use the same machine for comparison.

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This is a curious comparison - a recent version of AIX vs an ancient version of RHEL? RHEL 3 Update 9 was the last release of RHEL3 before it hit EOL. Additionally RHEL3 ran a 2.4 kernel which cannot handle the same workloads as the 2.6 kernel which ships in recent versions of RHEL. –  Chad Feller Aug 25 '11 at 4:37
    
Isn't it more likely the OS choice is pretty moot and you are going to get better PowerPC optimised binaries out of xlC on AIX than gcc on Linux? –  Steve-o Aug 25 '11 at 4:53
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Make some benchmark tests on the same hardware running the two different OS:es to get the correct answer. Too many factors are involved. #1 is probably the type of workload. Perhaps the filesystem is what matters most in your case? Or the memory bandwidth? Context switching performance? (Perhaps you should try Solaris as well?) Or could it be a "business" decision? :-) –  MattBianco Aug 25 '11 at 7:57
    
I agree with Chad. It isn't a fair comparison. If you're going to compare AIX to Redhat, then I would consider running tests against the current stable version of each. RedHat 3 is also no longer supported. –  mattcaffeine Aug 30 '11 at 17:58
    
for as much as I heard, the performance could or could not be different, but what really is amazing on AIX are the capabilities in term of disk / memory / cpu management they are way over any system, and a good AIX admin can really tune the system to shape it to the need. –  Kiwy Apr 11 at 7:59
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5 Answers

If you're going to the expense of buying IBM pSeries servers, then generally, in broad terms, you may as well run AIX on them which is specifically crafted to drive the hardware as efficiently as possible. That goes from the hypervisor down through to the adapters.

If you want to run Linux, you may as well buy xSeries hardware (in IBM terms, or Intel / AMD kit).

What you get with pSeries hardware in combination with AIX is powerful enterprise class processing. Yes, pSeries hardware + Linux probably gives you close to that, but you save yourself virtually nothing in overall costs.

It's hard to get specific details, but the numbers I've seen quoted are that AIX will run the same workloads on pSeries hardware 5-10% faster than Linux.

Don't forget, since Linux is essentially free, and your pSeries hardware can be easily partitioned, you could trivially install one AIX partition, one Linux partition and run your own benchmarks with your own specific workloads. IBM Business Partners have access to environments where they can run those benchmarks for you - and I strongly recommend you take your vendor up on that ability.

All this assumes you are truly intending to buy pSeries and run either AIX or Linux. If in reality you're thinking of pSeries vs. Intel/AMD based hardware then it's an entirely different ballgame, and the OS won't be the deciding factor in performance in that case.

Actually, I'd recommend AIX on pSeries any day due to the mature logical volume management (best in the UNIX world in my view) and the exceptionaly versatile virtualisation (again, in my view, best of breed in the enterprise UNIX arena).

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Completely agree +1. We recently bought 2 Power 770s for close to a million bucks, so AIX on most boxes is key seeing as it tailored specifically for the hardware. –  MaxMackie Aug 25 '11 at 11:45
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+1 You would be hard pressed to find a more stable environment than AIX on POWER 7 hardware. –  mattcaffeine Aug 30 '11 at 18:12
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AIX, in terms of usability, tries to focus a lot of admin tasks around an app called smitty. You no longer need to know what commands to run, simply type:

smitty [keyword]

For example:

smitty storage

Will bring you to a page where you can play around with NFS mounts and create new filesystems, etc. Smitty is a full command line GUI with ASCII characters and is quite nice. Seeing as you probably have more experience with Linux (RHEL), you'll find a lot of the AIX commands different, so smitty will be a good help and understanding your system.

In terms of data processing, I haven't seen any charts, but from what I've experienced it is quite fast at processing and parsing data.

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I know the smitty stuff doesn't have much to do with processing speed, but I figure if you're making the switch it's an important thing to know. –  MaxMackie Aug 25 '11 at 4:35
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I don't have any numbers, but I worked for a health insurance company about two years ago. We had a product that was made for us that had been running on RHEL/JBoss. We migrated it to IBM Websphere on AIX and the application ran substantially faster on RHEL/JBoss.

This really isn't a good comparison just because there are so many factors: AIX vs RHEL, JBoss vs WebSphere, x86 vs POWER (I think, or whatever AIX runs on now). Plus the AIX servers were running in LPARS and the specs were substantially difference.

Because of the vast differences in the platforms and the way AIX is normally deployed, it's really difficult to get accurate numbers or even design fair benchmarks.

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I don't think you can reasonably speak to data processing speeds in a broad sense. As pointed out in other answers, the only way to accurately measure performance is by testing your own apps. However, there are more reasons than just speeds-and-feeds for considering an OS. On average, no top-tier UNIX variant really offers a compelling reason over another. Each has their own advantages and disadvantages that tend to balance out in a head-to-head comparison. In extremes use cases (HPC, real-time computing, etc.) one variant may rise to the top. At other times external constraints will drive the decision. For example, RedHat does not certify JBoss running on AIX which might be enough to make someone nervous. Generally, focus should be placed on the skill set of the sys admin team and the overall software stack.

All else being equal, I would choose the platform that attracts the most industry innovation. Innovation tends to increase the opportunity for enhancing operating efficiency. Right now, that's Linux.

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Hmm... that is indees interesting, but for those saying that AIX is a clear answer on IBM Power hardware, the answer is not that clear.

Linux on Power options are provided by IBM to support SUSE and RedHat Linux that is specifically "tweaked" and created for the Power hardware.

Some of the fantastic benefits of the IBM Power environment such as the leading reliability, performance, stability, and virtualization technologies are all provided to the Linux environments. Talk to IBM or fish around their web site to look at the many features that are now supported by the Linux versions for IBM power and see that the answer is no longer cut and dry.

I am an AIX fan, so I know what I prefer, but Linux is a very viable solution!

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