Well it’s that time of year again, time for IBM to release the next set of hardware and software enhancements for Power Systems.
First up is a new processor, the POWER7+. The POWER7+ provides additional per core performance through faster clock speeds and lots more cache. But the POWER7+ chips also include accelerators that can shift some specialized processing workloads off of the POWER7 cores. There are three accelerators that are part of the POWER7+ chips: An analog-based random number generator that provides for more security when using cryptography, a memory compression/decompression accelerator that can potentially reduce processor utilization and improve performance when using Active Memory Expansion, and cryptographic offload engines that can potentially improve the performance and reduce the processor utilization when using IPSec and AIX Encrypting Filesystem.
The new POWER7+ processors have been released in new “D” models of the popular POWER 770 and POWER 780 systems. In addition to the new processors, both of these systems include additional features to improve the scalability, performance and reliability of these systems. The POWER 780 can now contain a maximum of 128 cores.
In addition to these new POWER7+ processor-based systems, the existing POWER 795 has been enhanced with additional memory capability (up to 16TB), enhanced I/O and greater virtualization flexibility.
Significant enhancements to Power Systems Virtualization include: a minimum entitled capacity of 1/20th of a core when using MicroPartitioning, up to 16 concurrent Live Partition Mobility operations and a significant performance improvement in Live Partition Mobility. There is also a new capability called Dynamic Platform Optimizer (DPO) that allows an administrator to defragment system resources without requiring an outage. System resources can become fragments over time, and DPO can eliminate this problem to insure high sustained performance. These enhancements require the 760 level of the firmware, the latest VIOS (2.2.2) and the latest HMC. The 760 firmware will be initially available on the new Power 770 and Power 780 systems and on the Power 795.
A new System Pools option is now available for the Power 780 and Power 795 that allows for sharing of Elastic Capacity on Demand resources between multiple systems. This is intended to reduce the impact of planned maintenance events by allowing workloads to be relocated to other systems during the planned maintenance without requiring significant amounts of idle resources.
Continuing on the list of virtualization features, PowerVM includes some usability enhancements and a new VIOS Performance Adviser that is intended to simplify tuning your VIOS systems. An earlier release of the VIOS Performance Advisor is available as-is on the IBM DeveloperWorks web site, but the new version is included with PowerVM as a supported tool.
The scalability and reliability of PowerVM Shared Storage Pools has been enhanced to provide support for up to 16 nodes in a cluster, a redundant and resilient cluster repository and pool utilization and reporting tools.
AIX 6 Technology Level 8 and AIX 7 Technology Level 2 provide exploitation of the new POWER7+ accelerators and include new capabilities such as a LPAR to WPAR conversion option (AIX 7 TL2 only). AIX 6 TL8 picks up the Active System Optimizer functionality that was first delivered in 2011 in AIX 7 TL1. AIX also adds support for IPV6 networks for NFS V3 and enhanced IPV6 support for WPAR specific routing.
The AIX Enterprise Edition bundle is being changed to better reflect current client requirements. Due to the increased demand for cloud management tools, AIX EE will add PowerSC Standard Edition and the SmartCloud Entry for Power (including Director Storage Control). Two products, IBM Tivoli Monitoring for Energy Management and the Tivoli Application Dependency Discovery Manager are being dropped from the bundle due to limited client adoption.
PowerSC Express and Standard Editions have been enhanced to provide real time compliance checking and a new compliance profile for HIPAA (Healthcare Industry Portability Accountability Act).
A new member of the PowerSC family has been introduced, PowerSC Trusted Surveyor. This new product is designed to simplify the security management of your PowerVM VLAN environment. PowerSC works by interrogating your HMCs to obtain the VLAN configuration. The administrator can define the relationships between VLANs and the LPARs they connect to, for example, classifying them into production, test, QA, etc. systems. Then, when you collect the information again the next day, PowerSC Trusted Surveyor will highlight any changes and identify any misconfiguration (such as a “production” LPAR on a “test” VLAN).
Last but not least, PowerHA SystemMirror V7.1 Enterprise Edition has been introduced. PowerHA SystemMirror V7.1 Enterprise Edition brings the advantages of Cluster Aware AIX to disaster recovery environments. Features include: IBM Systems Director graphical management, robust, kernel based cluster communications, a multi-site setup wizard to simplify deployment. Additionally there is a HyperSwap option that, when used with IBM DS8000 storage, can provide continuous availability during storage planned maintenance or unplanned storage outages.
I hope you found this brief overview of the Power Systems October announcements useful. There is much more detail in the announcement letters that are available on ibm.com.
If you want to get an even more in-depth on these announcements and other topics, you should consider attending the Power Technical University events in Dublin or Las Vegas in October.