Some Power Systems Tweaks And Sales Withdrawals
February 6, 2017 Timothy Prickett Morgan
We didn’t expect any major announcements from IBM’s Power Systems division here in the first couple of weeks of the year, but the company has made done a bunch of little things that might affect some IBM i shops that you ought to be aware of just the same.
In announcement letter 117-013, which was put out on January 24, IBM made good on its promise to make the new I/O peripherals and memory cards that came out with the midrange Power 850C system announced last year available on the prior generation Power 850 box, which debuted in May 2015 supporting AIX and Linux and which does not run IBM i. Plenty of us were miffed about this, and think that pushing IBM i shops up to the Power E870 and E870C is a bridge too far. Seeing this announcement just reminded me of it again. Let’s hope with the Power9 machines, IBM i runs across the lot of them. I have my doubts. But hope springs eternal, and I think IBM needs to make it easier for customers that run out of capacity on two-socket Power iron to move to less costly four-socket boxes. The jump from the Power S824 to the Power E870 is just too far, and IBM has hollowed out its own midrange because of the pricing and packaging it has done in the Power8 era. In any event, the 100 Gb/sec Ethernet adapters and InfiniBand adapters that were made available on the Power E850C last year are now certified on the older Power E850, and so are the 128 GB CDIMM memory sticks, the PCIe Cryptographic Coprocessor 4767 and the EXP24SX expansion chassis.
IBM has also rolled out a new PCI-Express x8 adapter card that allows for SAS tape drives or SAS DVD drives to be linked to Power Systems iron using Mini-SAS 4x connectors. This adapter runs at a slower 3 Gb/sec speed and supports legacy peripherals that do not have support for faster 6 Gb/sec or 12 Gb/sec SAS links.
IBM is also announcing support for 512-byte and 528-byte formatted drives for AIX and Linux operating systems when used on Power Systems iron with EXP24SX expansion drawers installed. Back in November, when the EXP24SX was announced, it only supported drives with 4K-byte formatting. IBM has also rolled out new 4.5 meter and 10 meter optical cables and is promising to deliver even longer ones in the future so the EXP24SX enclosures can be further away from the Power Systems servers to which they are attached. This will allow more flexible rack setups. IBM has sold 1.5 meter and 3 meter copper cables for attaching the EXP24SX until now.
In announcement letter 917-023, IBM is withdrawing a bunch of gear from its sales catalog. And just a reminder, this does not mean IBM will not provide technical support for this gear, but that it is just stopping selling it. There are some Power7 processor features and feature conversions in the list and a slew of peripherals, so look carefully through the list to see what you might need before you can’t get it any more.
We expect for IBM to do more withdrawals for Power7 and Power7+ iron and peripherals as we get closer and then into the Power9 generation around the middle of this year. IBM probably is not selling Power6 and Power6+ gear at all these days. Power8 iron will be around for years, but when Power10 rolls around in 2020 or so, then Power8 machinery will be winding down. This is ever the way.