IBM i 7.1 Gets Support for PCI Express Crypto Co-Processor, LTO-5 Tapes
September 13, 2010 Timothy Prickett Morgan
If you want to augment the encryption and decryption capabilities of your Power Systems servers or add LTO-5 tape drives and libraries to machines, the IBM i 7.1 operating system now supports these features.
As the The Four Hundred previously reported in the wake of the April Power Systems announcements (when the Power7-based blade servers were launched), the new PCI-Express cryptographic co-processors are more sophisticated than using software-based encryption and using the AltiVec vector math units to do the encrypting and decrypting heavy lifting. The cryptographic co-processors that IBM is now selling, which are known as features 4807, 4808, and 4809 for small, medium, and large Power Systems boxes, combine cryptographic acceleration and storage of cryptographic keys on the same tamper sensing and tamper responding device. The PCI-Express card meets the FIPS 140-2 level 4 U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) standards.
Interestingly, this is the same support that previous feature 4764 PCI-X co-processor had, except the new ones have redundant processors that operate in lockstep mode, thereby providing redundancy in case of failure as they process single-, double-, and triple-length DES and 128-, 192-, and 256-bit AES encryption algorithms. The cards also have random number and pseudo random number generators and generate and process al manner of personal identification numbers commonly front-ending Web-based applications. With both AIX and IBM i, the operating system sniffs out the adapter and automatically shifts the appropriate workloads to the card. You can mix and match the new PCI-Express and old PCI-X cryptographic co-processors in the same system.
When the features were announced in April, they only supported IBM’s AIX operating system, but starting September 17, the IBM i 7.1 operating system will be able to dispatch encrypting and decrypting work to these features. On entry machines, the new PCI-Express cryptographic co-processor costs $11,000; on larger machines, it costs $14,408.
Big Blue also said that starting September 17, the IBM i 6.1, i 6.1.1, and i 7.1 operating systems now support the TS2250, an external, half-height LTO-5 Ultrium tape drive that attaches to Power Systems machines over a SAS link and that offers 1.5 TB of storage and a data transfer rate of 140 MB/sec. (Double those up with 2:1 data compression turned on for the typical text-heavy commercial data sets.) The TS2350, which is a full-height, external LTO-5 tape drive, is now supported by these three IBM i flavors, too. The TS2350 costs $4,825, while the more compact TS2250 costs only $3,622. (Normally, you would think IBM would charge a premium for compactness. Go figure.) These LTO-5 drives are supported on Power6, Power6+, and Power7 servers starting in September.