IBM Launches Upgraded, Rack-Mounted HMC for Partition Control
November 9, 2009 Timothy Prickett Morgan
You might be thinking that IBM doesn’t make PCs or workstations any more, after selling off that business to Lenovo a few years back. But there is still one workstation you can get from IBM, and for many i shops, it is a necessary part of the day-to-day running of their System i and Power Systems i boxes: the Hardware Management Console, or HMC for short. IBM has a new rack-mounted workstation that it has packaged up as a better, stronger, faster–and more expensive–HMC.
The new HMC, which goes by the product number 7042-CR5, is a workstation based on Intel’s Xeon 3400 processor (which is the Core i7 when sold inside of a PC workstation and a Xeon 3400 when sold in a single-socket server. This chip has four cores running at 2.4 GHz, and 8 MB of L2 cache on the chip to speed up performance. This CR5 model of the HMC, which is detailed in announcement letter 109-577, comes with 4 GB of DDR3 main memory, four Gigabit Ethernet ports, a 300 GB hot swap disk, and a SATA CD-DVD drive. You can add a modem to this HMC if you want to do round-the-clock error reporting back to Big Blue through the Electronic Service Agent feature on Power Systems. The CR4 version of the HMC, which debuted in February 2007, was a PC workstation based on a single dual-core Xeon chip with a paltry 1 GB of main memory.
The CR5 version of the HMC has a command line and graphical interface to control the configuration of logical partitions on Power Systems, and also is used to manage firmware updates and do guided repair when something crashes on the boxes. While many System i, System p, and Power Systems machines can make use of the Integrated Virtualization Manager (part of the PowerVM hypervisor) to set up Linux partitions without the use of the HMC, 560, 570, 575, and 595 machines require an HMC to create, define, and change partitions, and on certain boxes, the HMC is required to manage the Virtual I/O Server partition and capacity on demand processor activations.
If you thought the CR4 HMC was a bit of a rip-off at $3,800, I can just about guess what you think of the rack-mounted CR5, which has a ridiculous price of $5,800, including the HMC firmware. Monitors for it range in price from $875 to $1,657. That internal modem costs $200 for using the ESA feature, and it costs $104 for a keyboard and $78 for a mouse. For a single socket workstation in a rack case, these are insane prices, of course. But where else you gonna get an HMC?