Power Systems Software Gets Its Updates And Tweaks
November 6, 2023 Timothy Prickett Morgan
It would not be a spring or fall IBM i Technology Refresh cycle if there were not some improvements to the auxiliary systems software that is an adjunct to the Power Systems stack. By which we mean the PowerVM server virtualization hypervisor, the PowerVC custom edition of the OpenStack cloud controller, the Hardware Management Console, the Cloud Management Console, and the system firmware for the Power iron itself.
In announcement letter AD23-0498, you will see that all of these have been updated and you will also see how they are all intertwined with each other, cross-supporting their respective updates.
One of the big changes is that Virtual I/O Server 4.1, which provides virtual drivers for IBM i, AIX, and Linux, is now based on the AIX 7.3 kernel. VIOS 4.1 is, of course, rolled into the PowerVM 4.1 hypervisor, which is only now available in the Enterprise Edition (but is no longer labeled as such) and which comes in a variant for IBM i and AIX and another one that is tuned up and priced down for Linux. In addition to moving to the AIX 7.3 kernel, VIOS includes:
- Security enhancements including VIOS Trusted Update and Secure By Default.
- I/O scaling and performance enhancements.
- Ready for Automation, with Python included in base VIOS.
- Reliability, Availability, and Serviceability enhancements, including improved dynamic logical partitioning times with tweaks to how CPU and memory are allocated on the fly.
PowerVM 4.1 also includes an update to the Power Hypervisor Firmware 1050 (FW1050), which includes:
- Runtime processor diagnostics.
- Support for larger logical memory block (LMB) sizes on Power10 systems to improve management of large memory logical partitions.
- IPv6 support on service interfaces for Power10 scale-out and midrange systems.
And finally, PowerVM 4.1 has updates to the NovaLink interface that allows OpenStack to manage the PowerVM hypervisor on Power Systems iron. Just like VIOS is a kind of virtual cut down AIX that acts as a virtual driver for IBM i and AIX operating systems so they don’t have to have native drivers for peripherals, NovaLink is a variant of the OpenStack Nova controller that runs in a Linux partition on Power iron that can interface with the PowerVM hypervisor and control it as OpenStack can do natively for KVM, ESXI, and Hyper-V hypervisors on X86 platforms. You don’t need a Hardware Management Console to manage these partitions, so in a sense, the combination of PowerVC plus NovaLink is a kind of HMC. Anyway, there are updates to NovaLink with a 2.2 release:
- Ability to perform network and iSCSI install for IBM i partitions.
- Ability to perform Dynamic Platform Optimizer operations from NovaLink.
- Support for additional memory region sizes.
The Power Hardware Management Console appliance (vHMC) and the virtual HMC (vHMC) 10.3.1050 are updated with VIOS 4.1 and FW1050, and include some additional features:
- User experience and usability enhancements across different functions in the HMC.
- Remote Restart Support for Virtual Persistent Memory.
- New encryption level support for vTPM 2.0.
- Custom key management support for Linux Secure and Trusted Boot.
- Ability to apply multiple HMC Service Packs or PTFs in one update flow.
The PowerVC for Private Cloud implementation of OpenStack is now updated to the 2.2.0 release and has the following enhancements:
- Control plane scale and performance improvements including support for up to 100 compute nodes and optimizations for AIX Live Kernel Update.
- Support for RHEL 8.8 and RHEL 9.2.
- Graphical user interface enhancements.
- Capability to deploy a VM without attached volume (empty image).
- GUI selection for IPv6 support in guest VMs.
And finally, the Cloud Management Console (CMC) is updated to release 1.20.0, with the following new features:
- Support for Virtual Serial Number in Enterprise Pools 2.0.
- API support to access performance monitoring data.
- Support Microsoft Edge browser.
- Scale and performance optimizations.
The updated PowerVM and PowerVC for Private Cloud software will be available on November 10. The updated vHMC, FW1050, and CMC software will come out on November 17. This software is supported on Power8, Power9, and Power10 systems.
One last thing: How long will IBM offer a custom version of OpenStack and why not just have customers use the Red Hat version, which runs on Power Systems? And if it has a custom version of OpenStack, then why not a custom version of the OpenShift Kubernetes container controller?