IBM Enhances I/O On Power7 And Power7+ Machines
April 21, 2014 Timothy Prickett Morgan
The Power8 system announcements might be right around the corner, but IBM has not forgotten about customers using its current machines based on Power7 and Power7+ processors. As part of the trickle of announcements on April 15 that saw Technology Refresh 8 for IBM i 7.1 roll out, Big Blue made some enhancements to the enterprise-class machines and put out a bunch of Ethernet and storage controller adapters.
As you can see in announcement letter 114-054, IBM is allowing customers to have static processor activations for Power 770, Power 780, and Power 795 machines and convert them to mobile processor activations that can participate in a Power Enterprise Pool. Here are the feature codes and their prices:
IBM has also announced a new four-port Ethernet adapter card that plugs into PCI-Express 2.0 slots, and this one uses copper cabling on two 1 Gb/sec ports and fiber cabling on two 10 Gb/sec SFP+ ports. This adapter offers cheaper cabling options than prior four-port Ethernet adapter cards, says IBM; it is supported on any Power Systems machine that has a Power7+ processor. (If you don’t have the product line memorized, that’s the Power 710+, 720+, 730+, 740+, 750+, 760+, 770+, and 780+ and PowerLinux 7R1, 7R2, and 7R4.) The card supports the Fibre Channel over Ethernet (FCoE) protocol if you want to converge server and storage traffic over the same networks. Depending on the machine, this Ethernet adapter is known as feature EN0K, EN0L, or EL3C and it costs $3,668.
IBM also has an enhanced integrated multifunction card, which does not eat a PCI slot but rather plugs into its own slot on the system boards of Power 770+ and Power 780+ boxes. It has two 10GBaseT ports that use cheap twinax cabling and two SFP+ ports that also run at 10 Gb/sec speeds. This card supports Single Root I/O Virtualization (SR-IOV), which is a protocol that allows for an Ethernet card to carve up its bandwidth precisely for a specific logical partition on the server. All four of the ports on this IMFC, as IBM calls it, have to be allocated to a single partition. Feature EN10 and EN11, as this card is known again depending on the machine, costs $3,013.
On the storage front, IBM is now allowing for its Easy Tier storage tiering software to run on the feature EJ0L SAS adapter card, which has a big wonking 3 GB cache that with data compression yields about 12 GB of effective capacity, says IBM. A pair of these cards can handle somewhere between 50 and 100 percent more reads in a RAID 5 configuration that prior generation PCI-Express 2.0 SAS controller cards. The feature EJ0L card supports two-tiered RAID 5, two-tiered RAID 6, and two-tiered RAID 10 data protection. This PCI-Express 3.0 card is now available in the Power7+ machines and in features 5802, 5877, 5803, and 5873 12X PCIe I/O drawers. Feature EJ0L costs $7,000.
The feature ESA3 PCI-Express 2.0 SAS adapter card, which has 1.8 GB of cache and which was announced last October for only four machines in the line, is now available on the Power 720 through 795 in both Power7 and Power7+ generations. It costs $7,200.