Clearing The Decks Ahead Of The Power9 Launch
May 8, 2017 Timothy Prickett Morgan
It is ever the way: In with the new and out with the old. With the Power9 processors set for their debut sometime this summer, and shipments beginning in the second half of the year, Big Blue is looking to clear out the inventory of older Power Systems equipment it has sitting around in the barn and to remove older items from its catalog to make room for a slew of new gear.
Over the past several months, IBM has been doing some spring cleaning, and we thought we would round all of these marketing withdrawals for Power Systems equipment together so you are aware of what is going the way of all flesh and give you a chance to go get this stuff for your current systems if you are going to be in need of processor, memory, disk, or other peripheral upgrades.
Just a reminder: When IBM withdraws something from marketing, it gives many months of warning, just as it does for maintenance price hikes. This gives people time to adjust and cope. The withdrawals from marketing do not mean IBM no longer supports this stuff – literally meaning providing Software Maintenance and the included hardware break/fix support. IBM provides such tech support for many, many, many years after it stops selling it, and for good reason. This support is a very profitable business for Big Blue, and we also suspect that if you need a vintage component and you don’t have a support contract, IBM can charge a very hefty premium for it while at the same time admonishing customers to get on Software Maintenance so they don’t get soaked again or even going so far as to convince customers to upgrade to a more modern system with lower support costs and more performance to boot.
Here is the rundown on the withdrawals, and we are organizing them so you can search through them and look for gear that affects your systems. It would be helpful if IBM put the description of the features being withdrawn, and with thousands of them across these announcements, there is not enough time in the week to look them all up. Under normal circumstances, with a modest list of features, we can spend the hours doing this, and have over three decades. But this is a lot of stuff.
Without further ado, here are the most recent and relevant withdrawals relating to Power Systems”
- On October 11, 2016, in announcement letter 916-174: Effective immediately on that day, a bunch of old 2.5-inch and 1.8-inch SSDs were withdrawn. The initial OPAL bare metal microcode and OpenKVM hypervisor for the Linux-only machines were also withdrawn, effective January 11, 2017 and has been replaced with a more recent version (we presume). On January 20 of this year a bunch of 2.5-inch disks of various capacities also went bye-bye, along with older Ethernet, InfiniBand, and Fibre Channel adapters of various speeds and so did a slew of disk and crypto coprocessor features on Power7 and Power7+ systems. On March 31, the Gen 3 versions of the PCIe Crypto Coprocessor were pulled, and effective October 27, 2017
- On November 8, 2016, in announcement letter 916-206: Effective immediately, IBM killed off the 16 GB, 32 GB, and 64 GB DDR3 memory modules for the one and two socket Power Systems machines using Power8 chips. IBM has DDR4 modules for these now. On the same date, upgrades from the Power 770+ and Power 780+ machines based on Power7+ processors to the Power 870C and Power 880C machines based on Power8 chips were also withdrawn.
- On January 24, 2017, in announcement letter 917-023: Effective that day, a bunch of features for the Linux-only Power Systems LC machines, including various disk drives and disk enclosures, were removed from the catalog. On February 23, a bunch of Ethernet adapter cards bought it, and so did Solution Edition bundles for Hadoop, Spark, Spectrum Symphony (Java messaging layer), and Spectrum Scale (the Global Parallel File System) for Power machines. IBM is still selling this stuff on Power, fear not. It is only being withdrawn on the Power Systems S812LC. A whole bunch of peripherals used on Power7 and Power7+ machines were removed effective March 31, April 23, or July 14. So look at these carefully if you have these older machines and want to add peripherals.
- On February 14, 2017, in announcement letter 917-046: Effective July 14, IBM will pull the plug on same serial number upgrades from Power 770+ and Power 780+ machines to the Power E870 and Power E880 systems; customers will be able to upgrade to the Power E870C and Power E880C models, however, and IBM reminds everyone that an upgrade from the Power E850 to the Power E850C is not available. (This latter machine does not run IBM i, so it is no skin off your nose.) The original E850, E870, and E880 machines are being withdrawn from marketing on July 14 as well, and a truly large number of feature conversions from the older Enterprise Class machines to the new Enterprise C-Class systems are also being withdrawn.
- On March 28, 2017, in announcement letter 917-065, IBM said it would withdraw the Power S822LC and Power S812LC effective May 26 of this year. This is interesting in that someone said to me last week that they had heard a rumor that the Power9 chip might debut in May. I have not been able to corroborate this with anyone else. But the withdrawal of these machines does imply IBM needs a replacement. . . . On May 31, a whole lot of peripheral features for Power5 and Power5+ iron and even older Power4 and Power4+ systems are being withdrawn. (Hard to believe these are still available at all, being more than a decade old.) A bunch of BladeCenter features are also coming out of the catalog, and on August 31, a bunch of peripherals for the Power7 and Power7+ line are coming out.
- On April 25, 2017, in announcement letter 917-077, IBM said a truly large number of features across the Power Systems line (not including Power8 machines) would be removed on July 31 or August 31 of this year. This covers the gamut of feature types and goes all the way back to Power4 machines, if you can believe it.
- Also on April 25, in announcement letter 917-081, all kinds of features for the high-end Power 795 machine, which was based on the Power7 processor, were slated to be removed from the IBM catalog on September 30 of this year. Core activations for the Power 795 are scheduled to be removed on December 29, and a bunch of feature conversions on the Power 795 are due to expire on September 30.
We will try to figure out when the Power9 launch is going to be.