IBM Tweaks Power System 595 Upgrades for System i 570 CBU Shops
July 14, 2008 Timothy Prickett Morgan
The Capacity BackUp variants of the iSeries and System i kickers to the AS/400, which were initially launched in September 2003 to cut the price of a hot standby server in a high availability cluster, were one of the bright spots in the product line as HA software became gradually more commonplace among OS/400 and i5/OS shops in the past five years. Cutting the price on redundant hardware helped boost HA adoption, which is great. This is all good.
But apparently there are some customers with i570 CBU machines who want to move to real Power 595s, not the Power 595 CBU Editions, and others that want an upgrade path from i570 CBU machines to the new Power Systems 595 CBU variants, too.
The reasons I suspect this is that last week, IBM announced six new conversions between the System i 570 CBU Editions based on Power5 and Power5+ processors to the Power6-based Power 595 with Capacity Upgrade on Demand (CUoD) processors. The move into the Power 595, which is known by its 9119-FHA product number, from the 570, which goes by 9406-570, is so complex that Big Blue has to do a two-step dance to get it done, but thankfully this upgrade goes by a single upgrade product number in its configurators. If customers want to convert from the Power 595 CUoD box (which allows processors to be activated temporarily or permanently, to be used in any fashion customers want) to a Power 595 CBU Edition, they can go all the way and do that. IBM did not explain why these paths were necessary, but I suspect it is as much for economic and accounting reasons as for technical ones. The point is, you start with an i570 CBU using 2.2 GHz Power5+ chips and you end up with a Power 595 CBU using either 4.2 GHz or 5 GHz Power6 chips.
To help smooth out the economics of the above-mention upgrade, IBM is also allowing DDR1 main memory cards used in the i570 CBU to be converted to DDR2 main memory cards for the Power 595, and is converting RIO-2 I/O drawers to 12X I/O drawers (those are the old Fibre Channel and new InfiniBand networking implementations, which IBM has to give funky names because it doesn’t want to admit that its secret I/O sauce is just Fibre Channel and InfiniBand for some reason that I cannot fathom) and RIO-2 I/O loop adapters to GX Dual-Port 12X host adapters. A bunch of other I/O drawers can be converted as part of this upgrade path, too.
The system model conversion for this two-step CBU upgrade path will be available on September 9. Feature codes to retain the 7040-61D I/O drawers and expansions racks in the i570 CBU will be available on August 23, and so will the activation of DDR2 main memory on the Power 595 based on DDR1 features on the i570 CBU. Support for the conversion of the Fibre Channel features to InfiniBand features will be available on November 21.
Considering all of this grief, you have to assume it is worth the money to cope with the hassle of moving. Otherwise, you would assume that IBM would just require customers to do a push-pull upgrade. But companies are usually pretty keen on retaining the serial numbers of their systems so they can depreciate that asset more slowly. If you take the box out before its depreciation is done, you have to write the whole thing off–and you have a new and usually more expensive box on the capital budget that will not be written off for many years. Upgrades only make sense because of depreciation rules. If there was no depreciation–or instant depreciation, which is equally absurd–there would be no upgrades at all in IT. All I know for sure is that IBM would not have provided this upgrade path from the i570 to the Power 595 if someone wasn’t complaining about the accounting somewhere.