Big Power8 Iron Gets A Reprieve, And More Power To You
October 28, 2019 Timothy Prickett Morgan
The big Power9 iron has been in the field for more than a year now, and IBM had every intention of removing the Power8-based Power E870C and Power E880 E880C from its product catalog by Halloween, and said as much on February 26 this year in an announcement that we covered about a slew of withdrawals for the Power Systems platform.
In announcement 119-078, dated October 22, IBM has decided to keep the For Sale signs up on the eight-socket Power E870C and 16-socket Power E880C machines for an extra two months, and now you will be able to buy them new from Big Blue until New Year’s Eve, or December 31 if you don’t like to party and bring in the next year. This extension is only being offered in the United States and Canada, as far as we know, but we suspect that if you really wanted one of these Power8 NUMA boxes outside of North America, then Big Blue could make an exception.
Such withdrawn machinery is always available on the secondhand market and often through dealer channels new long after IBM has declared end of marketing, so this is not a crisis as much as it is a warning shot across the bow.
The real question is, given the performance per core and per socket gains with the Power9 chips compared to the Power8 processors, why anyone would want a machine that is five years old. (Well, three because the C models of the Power E870 and Power E880 had some tweaks compared to the original models, but are really 98 percent the same.) The answer is always the same: The operating system. Some customers, even those with big iron, can’t move to IBM i 7.2, IBM i 7.3, or IBM i 7.4, and they are stuck back on IBM i 7.1. If you are stuck on IBM i 6.1, then Power7 and Power7+ are the most recent processors you can have, and obviously Power7 and Power7+ machines can – and often do – run IBM i 7.1, IBM i 7.2, and IBM i 7.3. But they cannot run IBM i 7.4. (Here is a link that shows what IBM i releases can run on what Power Systems machines with what Power processors.)
In a separate development, we find in announcement letter 119-071 that IBM has created a special Solution Edition bundle with the Viya open source analytics stack atop Red Hat Enterprise Linux, which is probably of limited interest to IBM i shops. IBM has also delivered a new set of “intelligent” power distribution units with integrated Ethernet switching for the control plane for these devices. These new PDUs are designed to be used with Power8 and Power9 systems.