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A Look at Recent IBM Announcements

May 5, 2009

IBM made some new announcements last week. Take the time to get familiar with this information.

From the overview:

"IBM announced new Power Systems blades and servers, virtualization software and POWER6 technology, all designed to help companies build, manage and maintain a 21st century dynamic infrastructure."

Highlights include:

  • New 4-core JS23 and 8-core JS43 blades using 4.2 GHz POWER6+ processors.
  • Virtual tape support for IBM i and BladeCenter implementations. One thing that customers wanted was a way to natively back up their IBM i images directly to tape drive -- this announcement will help address that issue. Customers will be able to use a LTO4 SAS-attached single tape drive model TS2240. Once they upgrade VIOS, firmware on the blade and PTFs for IBM i (in the May 22 timeframe), they'll be able to use the tape drive as if it were natively attached.
  • Power 520 Express and 550 Express servers with POWER6+ processors. The 520 has 2- and 4-core 4.7 GHz models, and the 550 will have 2-, 4-, 6- or 8-core 5.0 GHz models.

According to the overview, "The POWER6+ processor has also been shipping in the 3.6 GHz model of the Power 560, the 4.4 and 5.0 GHz models of the 16-core Power 570 and the 4.2 GHz model of the 32-core Power 570 since they were announced last October."

In addition, IBM has announced 69 GB solid state drives (SSD) to be used with Power Systems. I hear that you should expect performance increases when you put your "hot" data onto SSD drives versus
traditional drives. Using SSD allows you to use fewer drives (removing mechanical seeks and waits frees you from worrying about spindle count). This reduces power consumption and takes up less physical space.

Another thing I hear is that, to get to the most out of the SSD drives, you want many random reads and a low percentage of sequential/predictable reads, and you want a higher percentage of reads than writes.

More from the overview:

"PowerVM, IBM's virtualization solution, is now enabled for the first time with Active Memory Sharing, an advanced technology that allows memory to automatically flow from one logical partition to another for increased utilization and flexibility of memory usage." IBM published a Redpaper titled "PowerVM Virtualization Active Memory Sharing" on this topic.

This gives you the option of telling your LPARs that they have more physical memory than they actually do. Basically, you'll be paging memory to a paging device. So if all your LPARs try to do this at the same time, you could face the same kind of contention and poor performance that you'd have on a single LPAR that is memory-constrained and constantly using paging space. Therefore, you wouldn't want to do this with LPARs that all need simultaneous access to memory. However, it is helpful if you have individual LPARs that need additional memory at different times. Think of this as another way to better utilize your server. With Micro-partitioning we can better utilize CPUs; with Active Memory sharing, we can better utilize our memory across our servers. Active Memory Sharing will work across AIX 6.1, Linux and IBM i 6.1 partitions that use VIOS and shared processors and have virtual I/O. Of course, they must be POWER6 processor-based systems with the Enterprise Edition of PowerVM.

Look over all of the announcement material, including the new facts and features documentation. Then contact your business partner or IBM to help you determine how this new technology can help your business.

Posted May 5, 2009| Permalink