IBM To Stop Peddling Power6+ Processors Soon
September 17, 2012 Timothy Prickett Morgan
With the Power7+ processors and their related Power Systems machinery looming on the horizon sometime before the end of the year, according to IBM‘s top brass, it is no surprise that Big Blue is beginning the process of winding down sales of new Power6+ system boards and related peripherals. These machines are two generations back, and no vendor likes to sell more than one generation back even if they do support any old iron for many, many years in terms of running software and providing tech support.
In announcement letter 912-815, IBM is telling customers to get out their checkbooks and buy up the old stuff it has sitting around in the barn if they want to add more capacity to their existing machines. IBM is also making some minor changes on some new gear.
Specifically, as of September 28, IBM is killing off the business partner installation of Linux on the PowerLinux 7R2 rack server, the Linux-only machine that debuted back in April. IBM is also putting selected 16 GB and 32 GB DDR3 memory modules running at 1.07 GHz and 4 GB memory modules running at 1.33 GHz for the Flex System p260 and p460 Power7-based nodes. IBM did not give any explanation of why these memory modules were being pulled out of the product catalog.
On January 4 of next year, the Power6+ processors that were launched secretly in certainly machines in October 2008 and then pushed across the product line in April 2009, will no longer be available new from IBM. So processor cards in the Power 520, 550, and 570 machines that are based on the dual-core Power6+ chips, which come in 3.2 GHz, 4.2 GHz, 4.4GHz, 4.7 GHz, and 5 GHz clock speeds depending on the machine, will be only available as stocked in the business partner channel or second-hand from used equipment dealers. A bunch of older disk drives, memory features, GX port adapters, and other peripherals of the same vintage are being ripped out of the catalog.
Remember: If you have latent Power6+ processing capacity or memory in your system that you have not activated, IBM will always let you turn it on. This withdrawal from marketing is only for new feature sales and does not restrict the activation of installed features.
Processor feature conversions within these Power 520, 550, and 570 machines using Power6+ processors are also being put out to pasture on January 4, 2013.
If you have a Power 595 machine based on Power6+ processors, you are getting a bit more time to upgrade processor and memory features. The Power6+ processor books for these big bad boxes will be removed from the product catalog on July 5 next year, and so will related memory features, which span from 4 GB to 64 GB in size in the Power 595. Processor conversions within the Power 595 machine using the Power6+ chips, which run at 4.2 GHz or 5 GHz, will also be unavailable new from IBM after July 5.
With this announcement of Power6+ feature withdrawals, I am pretty convinced that IBM will announce the new Power7+ machines soon. If IBM did it on September 25, that would be a week ahead of Oracle‘s OpenWorld customer and partner event, and the old IBM might have done it then to get a week to ramp up for fourth quarter sales. But an IBM that wants to give no oxygen to Oracle in the Unix server racket would probably want to time the Power7+ launch on whatever day Oracle plans to debut its new Sparc T5 processors and systems. That could be anywhere between September 30 and October 4. IBM doesn’t do announcements on Sunday, so September 30 is out.
We’ll see. But it won’t be long.