Some Power9 Tweaks And Withdrawals
September 20, 2021 Timothy Prickett Morgan
It is a very rare announcement cycle where IBM announces a new machine and does not offer some tweaks to or withdrawals for older machinery. And, as we always expect, Big Blue did both as part of the September 8 IBM i and Power E1080 server announcements.
In announcement letter 121-052, IBM made some tweaks to the NVM-Express U.2 form factor solid state flash drives for the Power9 entry, midrange, and high end servers. The new U.2 flash drives have an 800 GB capacity and are aimed at AIX and Linux partitions that have 4K block sizes. These drives plug into PCI-Express 4.0 slots with four lanes (called x4 in the PCI nomenclature), and they have more I/O and higher throughput than SAS or SATA drives of equivalent capacity. This particular 800 GB unit is rated at a duty cycle of 2.4 drive writes per day over a period of five years for 100 percent random write workloads.
The Power9 machines also now support the feature #4769 cryptographic coprocessor, which plugs into PCI-Express 3.0 slots. Interestingly, this crypto engine has four 32-bit PowerPC 476FP processors and delivers a random number generator and AES, DES, Triple DES encryption and HMAC, CMAC, MD5, multiple SHA hashing methods.
On September 14, in announcement letter 921-094, IBM said that effective immediately that it was withdrawing the Power9-based, dual-socket Power LC921 and Power LC922 machines, which as the name suggests are Linux-only boxes in 1U and 2U form factors, respectively.
The Power LC921 and Power LC922 machines are actually manufactured by Supermicro, and the word on the street is that Big Blue has not been entirely pleased by the design of these systems over the years. We strongly suspect that when the entry Power 10 machines are announced sometime towards the end of the second quarter of 2022 that IBM will rebadge machines from Inspur and resell them as LC variants – very likely the Power LC1021 and Power LC1022 if history is any guide to naming conventions, and it is. But we shall see. Incidentally, the single-socket Power S821LC based on Power8 processors was made by Tyan and the dual-socket Power S822LC was made by Wistron.
In the same announcement, IBM also said that a bunch of features for various Power9 machines, including Power9 processors and storage features, are being withdrawn on September 30. So if you have a Power9 machine and you want to add CPUs or flash, you might want to take a look at this announcement’s details.