If you're planning to upgrade your enterprise Power hardware in the near future, at this point you should focus on IBM's POWER7+ systems.
On Wednesday IBM announced new versions of its enterprise Power Systems models, along with new software: AIX 7.1 TL2, AIX 6.1 TL8, IBM i 7.1TR5, Linux RHEL 6.3, SLES 11SP2 and PowerVM 2.2.2.
General availability for the software is slated for Oct. 12. The 770 and 780 hardware GA is Oct. 19. IBM i 6.1.1 support of POWER7+ on the 770 and 780 is expected Nov. 9. GA for model upgrades to the POWER7+ 770 and 780 -- along with new firmware for the Power 795 -- is Nov. 16. Other AIX 7.1 and 6.1 TL levels and VIOS 184.108.40.206 support for POWER7+ 770 and 780 are expected on Dec. 19.
Featuring a more densely packaged chip that gives off less heat and uses less power, POWER7+ systems offer 20-40 percent more performance per core. Another way to consider the progression is through these additional numbers from IBM: POWER7+ performance per watt can be up to five times greater than what was offered with POWER6+, and more than 10 times that of POWER5+.
The L3 cache size has more than doubled to 10 MB (vs. 4 MB in POWER7). POWER7+ processors run at a higher frequency, and include an on-board memory compression accelerator that allows active memory expansion (AME) to run with significantly reduced CPU overhead.
Model numbers have not changed with this announcement. We're still talking about the Power 770 and 780, but now we're looking at the "D" machine types in each family.
The new Power 770 with POWER7+ processors is the 9117-MMD. This server allows you to have up to 64 cores running at 3.8 GHz, or up to 48 cores running at 4.2 GHz. Comparatively, the POWER7 770 can run 64 cores at 3.3 GHz, or 48 cores at 3.7 GHz. As noted, the 9117-MMD allows up to 20 LPARs per core (up to 1,000 on the frame) with up to 16 concurrent live partition mobility operations. POWER7 systems support 10 LPARs per core and eight concurrent live partition mobility operations.
Those now using POWER6 570 9117-MMA, POWER7 770 9117-MMB and POWER7 9117-MMC systems will be able to upgrade to the new POWER7+ Model 770 (9117-MMD) system. From the announcement letter:
"You can upgrade the 9117-MMA, 9117-MMB, or 9117-MMC with 9117-MMD processors. For upgrades from 9117-MMA, 9117-MMB or 9117-MMC systems, IBM will install new CEC enclosures to replace your current CEC enclosure."
The Power 780 also has the same 32 nm POWER7+ core with 10MB L3 cache per core. Where you could previously max out your 780 at 96 cores running at 3.44 GHz, or 64 cores running at 3.92 GHz, the 9179-MHD POWER7+ 780 can have a maximum of 128 cores running at 3.72 GHz, or 64 cores running at 4.42 GHz. As with the 770, the 780 can have 20 LPARs per core and run up to 16 concurrent live partition mobility operations. According to the information I saw, existing POWER6 and POWER6+ 570 9117-MMA and POWER7 780 9179-MHB and 9179-MHC systems can be upgraded to the new Power 780 (9179-MHD).
The 795 servers aren't refreshing with POWER7+ processors, but they are part of this announcement. The 795 will have a new 256G memory feature with four 64 GB DDR3 DIMMs, so it can support up to 16 TB of memory on the frame. The 795 will also allow 20 LPARs per core with a firmware update. In addition, the 795 has two new PCIe Gen2 GX++ adapters (10G fibre channel card and 10G FCoE/CN) that plug directly into the GX++ slot on the processor card. This card combines a GX adapter + GX cables + PCIe I/O drawer + PCIe adapter into one new 2-port GX hybrid adapter. This card is designed to eliminate the need to have a drawer and the cables. Up to three adapters can be plugged into a processor book, and they can be housed in any of the four GX slots. Gen1 GX and Gen 2 adapters can function in the same processor book.
Here are some other announcement details.
* Elastic Capacity on Demand will enhance On/Off COD. Only two keys -- one for processors and one for memory -- will be needed to enable 90 days of available but inactive resources.
* Power System Pools will be available for 780 and 795 systems. Elastic COD resources may be purchased and billed for a pool. Rather than have some COD available on one system but not on
another, we can now create pools of high-end Power Systems servers that allow sharing of Elastic CoD processor and memory credits. This capability can also be used in support of planned maintenance events.
While a pool can have up to 10 Power 780 and 795 systems, Power System Pools have two limitations:
1) Fifty percent of the processors in the pool must be active.
2) Although the servers in the pool can be located in multiple data centers, AIX and IBM i cannot be mixed in the same pool.
Note that PowerVM and Electronic Service Agent are needed to
enable this functionality.
* The dynamic platform optimizer (DPO) is a new systems-tuning tool that optimizes processor and memory affinity in virtualized environments. The system can assess the level of affinity on a partition by partition basis. The system and workloads continue to run while the frame adjusts workload placement in the background to optimize performance without requiring additional admin interaction. (Note: This is not the same as the active system optimizer. ASO runs inside of AIX on your LPAR, while DPO runs at the hypervisor level and is designed primarily to optimize your LPAR's physical cores and memory.)
* AIX 7.1 TL2 and 6.1 TL8, will ship with the new POWER7+ systems this month. In the same timeframe we'll also see the appropriate service packs (SP) for AIX 7.1 TL1, AIX 7.1 TL0, AIX 6.1 TL6 and AIX 6.1 TL7 to enable POWER7+ support. In addition, there will be an LPAR-to-WPAR migration tool, which, as you can imagine, helps migrate workloads from an LPAR to a WPAR. If you have AIX 5.3 service extension, expect a TL12 SP to enable POWER7+ processor support according to IBM's statement of direction to provide future support.
* The new levels of AIX allow for exploitation of POWER7+ crypto offload accelerators, which enable encrypted filesystems and IPsec. According to IBM's announcement (here and here), "this provides cryptographic engines that may relieve the POWER7+ processor from the performance-intensive cryptographic algorithms of AES and SHA. This can offload work from processor cores from doing these tasks and improve performance of those functions."
* POWER7+ also includes a hardware random number generator and enhanced single precision floating point performance. High quality random numbers help improve security and offload cryptographic CPU cycles from the processor.
* A new virtual processor management scaled throughput
option is designed to improve the ratio of workload throughput.
* The AIX Enterprise Edition will now include PowerSC
and Smartcloud Entry bundle. Also included are AIX 6.1 or 7.1, WPAR
manager, IBM Tivoli monitoring, IBM System Director Standard, VMcontrol
Enterprise, network control, PowerSC, Smartcloud Entry and storage control. IBM
has made some changes to enterprise edition to remove some of the infrequently
used items and make room for the newer offerings. If you currently have
enterprise edition, you'll receive any products you don't currently have at no
* PowerVM 2.2.2, also announced on Wednesday, is set for a Nov. 9 GA. This will allow for the support of 20 LPARs per core on the 770, 780 and 795 systems. VIOS performance advisor updates and live partition mobility improvements are, according to IBM, expected to double the concurrency and improve LPAR movement performance as much as three times.
* PowerHA System Mirror 7.1 Enterprise Edition, also announced on Wednesday, is set for a Nov. 16 GA. We'll have to get used to some new concepts, including stretched clusters clusters for campus or metro deployments, and linked clusters which enables two sites with independent networks across campus or across the country. I'll cover this in detail in the near future.
* Finally, a new HMC, the 7042-CR7, will run V7R7.6.0 code and support blade servers. By running the new HMC code along with new 7.6 firmware and newer AIX levels, you'll be able to set a new, lower minimum CPU for your LPARs (0.05 instead of 0.10). The new code level also allows HMC to support more current web browsers. HMC V7R7.6.0 is the last code level that will run on older models (7310-C04, 7315-CR2 and 7310-CR2). (Note: IBM recommends that if your HMC manages more than 254 partitions, or if you use IBM Systems Director to manage your HMC, at least 3GB of RAM is needed. The HMC should also be a rack-mount CR3 or later.)
For other announcement coverage, check out this IBM
Systems Magazine Web Exclusive. And here's Jay Kruemcke's take.
Overall, I'm impressed with this announcement. Obviously though, there a ton of material here. Please post any questions in Comments, and I'll do my best to track down detailed answers.