It Could Be Worse: OpenVMS Users Aren’t Getting Latest Itanium Iron
June 17, 2013 Timothy Prickett Morgan
After all of these years and so many battles in the Minicomputer Wars and the Midrange Wars, the OpenVMS operating system is more a friend of the IBM i platform than a foe, particularly with common enemies swarming the data center landscape from the warring tribes of Windows and Linux. So it is important not to gloat as we get what is very likely the final roadmap out of Hewlett-Packard for the venerable OpenVMS.
On June 6, Ric Lewis, general manager of HP’s Enterprise Servers division, which is in charge of its Itanium-based systems, sent a letter to OpenVMS shops notifying them that the roadmap for hardware and software support was changing. And the news was both good and bad for OpenVMS shops.
The good news is that OpenVMS 8.4, the latest and greatest release of the operating system that started out life 35 years ago as VAX/VMS on VAX machines from Digital Equipment Corp, will now be supported with standard service at least through December 2020, more than seven years hence. Extended support, which could be made available beyond that for additional fees, could last even longer than that.
The bad news is that HP is not porting OpenVMS to the current “Poulson” Itanium 9500 processors, which made their debut in Integrity i4 and Superdome 2 systems last fall. This is a bit of a shocker for the OpenVMS community, but as is the case for IBM i workloads, most of the machines in the OpenVMS installed base are fairly modest in size and doubling up the core count doesn’t matter as much as cranking up the clock speed. And the latter is not happening to any large extent on any server processor anymore because we have hit thermal limits of CMOS chips.
HP is moving ahead with the integration of its 3PAR storage arrays with OpenVMS 8.4 and has a bunch of security and middleware updates coming, too.
And support for Integrity i2 machines using the quad-core “Tukwila” Itanium 9300 processors has now been extended through December 31, 2020. (OpenVMS has not been available on Superdome-class machines for several years.) HP will continue to sell Integrity i2 blade servers, which span from one to four blades in a single system image and are roughly analogous to a Power 570 or so, through the end of 2015, with hardware upgrade sales through the end of 2016.
HP put out a separate statement that it will create NonStop faulty tolerant cluster systems based on the Itanium 9500 processors, as planned, and that there will be Integrity machines that will use a forthcoming “Kittson” Itanium processor. At the end of January, HP and Intel announced that Kittson would not have a converged processor socket that is compatible with a future Xeon E7 chip (presumed to be the “Haswell” Xeon E7 v3) or use a 22 nanometer process. In fact, Intel said that Kittson would use the same 32 nanometer etching that the Itanium 9300s use and plug into the same socket as the Itanium 9300 and 9500 chips. And that means it will very likely be an eight-core chip with some modest microarchitecture improvements and essentially a Poulson+ chip when you get right down to it.
Or maybe, if you use IBM’s Power7 nomenclature, a Poulson’ chip, where that is a prime notation. Just like IBM did with the Power7′ machines when the Power7+ chips were late to market and Big Blue didn’t want to talk about it.
Like I said, don’t gloat. Just whistle and keep on a-moving.