IBM Peddling Vintage iSeries Boxes at a Premium
April 12, 2010 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Back in January, when I was discussing a Power Systems trade-in deal that IBM had tweaked, I said that I could no longer see the second-hand Power Systems that IBM’s Global Financing unit peddles running the i5/OS and i operating systems. An intrepid reader of The Four Hundred found a different place where “Certified Pre-owned Power Systems – iOS” machines are available second-hand (or perhaps third for all we know) and pointed it out to me.
So I thought that you, like myself and this reader, would get a chuckle out of what Big Blue is charging for some vintage iron. I can’t imagine why anyone would buy some of these older machines except if they have an old OS/400 license and don’t care about getting tech support, which is no longer available for OS/400 V5R3 and earlier releases and versions.
You can take a look at the IBM Global Financing page here.
I am amazed that the iSeries Model 810 that was announced in May 2003 at a list price of $12,000 including a single processor rated at 1,020 on IBM’s Commercial Processing Workload (CPW) test is being sold by IBM GF for $5,595 with an OS/400 V5R3 license. That’s a pretty amazing price for a box using a 540 MHz S-Star PowerPC chip. Granted, that original Model 810 didn’t have all the features IBM has in the used box, which has 2 GB of memory and four 35.2 GB disks.
Amazingly, an iSeries Model 825, which had from three to six 1.1 GHz Power4 processors and which was rated at between 3,600 and 6,600 CPWs, has a street value of $25,538 with 3 GB of main memory, four 35.2 GB disks, a bunch of other features, and an OS/400 V5R3 license. With OS/400 Standard Edition, the base model of this machine listed for $353,551 when it shipped in the first quarter of 2003. IBM also has two iSeries Model 870 configurations–one with eight processors rated at 11,500 CPWs with 16 GB of main memory and 45 disk arms and another with 32 GB and 90 disk drives–that are priced with OS/400 V5R3 licenses for $65,723 an $82,973, respectively. And an iSeries Model 890 with 16 1.3 GHz Power4 processors rated at 20,000 CPWs with 16 GB of memory and a mere three disks (again, with OS/400 V5R3) has a $162,576 price tag. Now, the Model 825 is in the P30 software tier, the Model 870s are in the P40 tier, and the Model 890 is in the P50 tier. So while this is but a fraction of the initial prices of these vintage iSeries machines, and there are some companies that are stuck on V5R3 (or at least they think they are), you can get those CPWs much, much more cheaply with a Power7 box.
At some point, it makes far more sense to upgrade to a Power 720, when it is available. Assuming that a Power 720 is a Power 750 cut in half–meaning two processor cards per machine with one Power7 chip with maybe four and six cores per chip activated, maybe 256 GB of main memory–and assuming that the clock speeds for these machines can range as low as 2.5 GHz, you’re talking about something just shy of 4,400 CPWs per core in the Power 720. At that point, with a machine that might cost anywhere from $25,000 to $35,000 in a reasonable configuration with one core activated to run i 6.1.1 or i 7.1, I mean, it is just silly to contemplate an iSeries 8XX machine unless you have apps certified on that specific machine and you don’t want to touch the code and all you want is a spare box or more capacity.
The $5,919 price tag on an iSeries 520 with a single 1.9 GHz Power5+ processor (30 CPW interactive, 3,100 CPW server), with 1 GB of memory and four 70.6 GB disks seems a little high, but it is running i5/OS V5R4, which is still under maintenance unlike V5R3. The two iSeries 550 machines IBM Global Financing is peddling with two 1.9 GHz processors (one with 4 GB and eight drives, the other with 16 GB and 32 drives) seem a bit on the expensive side, with their respective $65,416 and $99,929 price tags. The fatter iSeries 520 setup with 4 GB and 16 disks seems crazy to buy at $49,225–unless you need to stay with i5/OS V5R4 for some reason, of course.
Correction: The reference to the CPWs per core in the Power 720 was changed to 4,400 CPWs per core. IT Jungle regrets the error. [Correction made 04/22/10.]