Power 570 and 595 Servers to Get Hot Add and Repair for CPUs
May 5, 2008 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Here’s something that every computer should have today–and probably will at some point in the not-too-distant future. This Tuesday, the high-end, Power6-based Power 570 and Power 595 servers start to ship, but one technology that allows for the hot addition and repair of server motherboards–what IBM calls processor books–without having to power down the systems is still slated for later this year.
According to a statement of direction from Big Blue, a future firmware upgrade for the Power 595 will allow for a Power6 processor book to be added to the machine without powering down the server. In the past, this would have been considered an upgrade, and that would mean shutting down the server, adding the new iron, and then rebooting the box. Obviously, if IBM wants to pitch the Power 595 as a server consolidation box, it gets increasingly unlikely that a box with lots of different workloads can be shut down for an extended period of time–that was hard enough on a production, mission-critical server with only one workload. This feature, called hot node add, is a companion to another feature called cold node repair, which allows for a board that has been repaired by IBM techs to be reactivated and brought back online without a reboot, which was required on all prior Power systems. Finally, a third feature, called hot node repair or concurrent repair (depending on the different documents coming out of IBM) will also be made available on the smaller Power 570 machines as well as on the Power 595, and this will allow for processor books to be deactivated from the system, have their components repaired or memory added to the boards, and then reactivated without having to take the entire box down.
IBM has said that these features of the Power 570 and 595 systems, which will be delivered through a free firmware upgrade, are expected to be delivered by the end of 2008, but my sources tell me that customers should not expect to see them until the fourth quarter. My guess is that the September 9 launch date for the i 6.1 operating system availability on the Power 595 or that the November 21 launch date for new 12X I/O drawers and DDR2 main memory migrations from prior 595-class boxes is when we can expect to see these firmware upgrades.