More memory now available for SAP HANA on SLES 11 for POWER

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Many companies are now running their businesses with SAP HANA on IBM POWER servers. SUSE has seen huge increase in customer demand for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for SAP Applications 11 SP4 since it became available in August 2015.

SAP HANA is an ideal workload for IBM POWER server due to the performance, reliability and scalability features provided by Power Systems servers. SAP HANA customers were able to boost their performance, save time on deployments and protect critical business operations with built-in business continuity capabilities by using POWER system with SLES for SAP Applications 11 SP4.

As our customers scaled up their SAP HANA environments, they found that they needed support for very large physical memory configurations in an LPAR (VM), beyond the 1.5TB supported by SLES 11.

Technically, this was a challenging problem. Expanding memory beyond 1.5TB would require changing the SLES 11 kernel page table structure impacting kernel ABIs. These changes could negatively affect compatibility for applications that use the kernel ABI. Retesting all existing applications would be impractical for a mature operating system like SLES 11 that first became available in 2009.

Fortunately, the product and engineering teams at SUSE were able to come up with an approach that preserved compatibility for existing SLES 11 customers while enabling very large memory support for SAP HANA on POWER. The solution was the introduction of an additional, “Bigmem” kernel.

The Bigmem kernel (kernel-bigmem) is an additional Linux kernel available for SLES for SAP Applications 11 SP4 customers through the maintenance channel. The Bigmem kernel is modified to provide support for up to 32TB on IBM POWER. Customers using SAP HANA can optionally use the BIgmem kernel to support any size memory up to 32TB. Customers who are using SLES 11 for workloads other than SAP HANA will continue to use the standard kernel. Moving forward, both kernels will be supported by SUSE on SLES for SAP Applications 11 SP4.

The Bigmem kernel also increases the number of threads supported by SLES for SAP Applications 11. This is required for systems that have more than 1024 logical CPUs such as an IBM Power System E880 configured with 192 physical CPU core with SMT8, resulting in 1536 logical CPU threads.

IBM, SAP and SUSE have rigorously tested the Bigmem kernel with SAP HANA for several months and the official certification is available. The recommended patch list can be found at https://download.suse.com/Download?buildid=abdTREGeaIw~

Note that the Bigmem kernel is not supported for applications other than SAP HANA.

Also, note that clients implementing SAP HANA on SLES for SAP Applications 12 do not need the Bigmem kernel because the base kernel in SLES 12 already supports up to 32 TB of memory.

For more information, see:

Jay Kruemcke

Product manager for SUSE Linux Enterprise Server for POWER

jayk@suse.com

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About Jay Kruemcke

Jay has had more than twenty years of experience in the information technology industry. Starting from a rather humble beginning at IBM, Jay became a mainframe systems support programmer. Eventually Jay joined the AIX operating systems development team early in that product's development. Jay leveraged technical skills that he built in systems management to establish himself as a member of the IBM Austin Executive Briefing Center. His expertise in systems management with the SAP ERP system enabled his first product management role, as the owner of the Tivoli management product for SAP. Over the next three years he established that product as a success with the help of a strong development team. Jay returned to AIX in a product management position initially focusing on managing new requirements for the AIX operating system. Jay established himself as a subject manager expert in AIX and Power Systems virtualization and became a frequent guest at conferences around the world. Jay succumbed to the dark side and spent four years in IBM marketing in which he introduced AIX version 6 and AIX version 7 and many product innovations including the first every open beta program for an AIX release and a significant restructuring of the AIX offering structure and prices. Jay was part of the cloud software development organization and and focused on managing development engagements for clients deploying clouds using Power Systems servers with PowerVC and related products. In March of 2016, Jay retired from IBM and started in a new role as a product manager for SUSE, the Open Software company. Jay new focus is on enterprise Linux for POWER and ARM processor based systems. The postings on this site solely reflect the personal views of the author and do not necessarily represent the views, positions, strategies or opinions of my employer. Follow me on twitter @mr_sles, @cloudrancher and @chromeaix.
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