IBM Mothballs The Last Of The Power7+ Servers
October 12, 2015 Timothy Prickett Morgan
Next year is when IBM will start rolling out its Power8+ chips, and since the Power8 chips have been in the field since April 2014, it is no surprise that Big Blue is winding down the Power7+ processors that date from October 2012. But if you have a Power7+ system and want parts, or have reasons to add Power7 machines to your fleet, you still have some time on selected models.
In announcement letter 915-205, which came out on September 29, IBM warns customers and business partners that it will be removing the remaining Power7+ machines that have not been withdrawn from marketing from its product catalog in 2016.
On February 16 next year, The Flex System chassis and the Flex System p460+ server node will be removed from the IBM playbook, along with the Flex System manager and the Flex System x240 Xeon-based server node. This marks the end of the line for the Flex System as far as IBM is concerned, and frankly, we wonder why IBM tried to give customers the impression that it would be pushing the Flex System machines at all once the Lenovo deal was announced. This clearly did not happen, and in the Power Systems business, it doesn’t seem to have had much of an effect. I happen to think that the Flex System design was innovative and far more useful than the BladeCenter blade servers, and I also liked the iDataPlex machines–all of which belong to Lenovo Group now.
IBM does not have a modular or blade system of its own, although it is getting more dense machines to market through its OpenPower Foundation partnership, with help from ODMs Tyan and Wistron as evidenced by the Power Systems LC line announced last week. A lot of HPC and hyperscale shops use rack servers anyway, and if IBM wanted to go superdense, the best form factor to choose might be to simply put four half-width server nodes in a minimalist 2U chassis like Supermicro, Dell, and others do.
We would like to see IBM innovate in form factors, but getting the OpenPower ecosystem rolling is more important, and perhaps it will let others do the work. None of this matters much to IBM i shops directly, excepting service providers trying to deliver IBM i in the cloud. Most IBM i shops would be happy with a system that had one or two half-width Power-based sleds and a handful of Xeon-based sleds, but again, IBM does not sell the latter any more.
According to the announcement letter, IBM will kill off three more of the Power7+ machines on May 20 next year. This includes the plain vanilla Power 710+ and Power 720+ machines as well as the Linux-only PowerLinux 7R1 machine.
IBM i licenses and Solution Edition packaging for these machines will no longer be available as well as selected processor, memory, and storage features. As in the past, customers who have latent processor and memory capacity on their Power7+ machines can always pay to activate that, and those who need one of these Power7+ machines can always seek them out in reseller inventories or among second-hand equipment dealers. It’s not like IBM goes around with a server shredder and grinds these machines up to a pulp.
With this, all eyes turn towards Power8+ and what it might hold to compete against Intel‘s “Broadwell” Xeon E5 v4 processors, which are expected sometime in the spring.