A Smattering Of Power Systems Announcements

A Smattering Of Power Systems Announcements

December 12, 2022

Timothy Prickett Morgan

We keep saying that IBM is winding down its announcement stream as 2022 comes to a close, but there is still a trickle of things being announced by Big Blue, both new products and withdrawals, that relate to the Power Systems platform and its adjacent external storage.

First of all, in announcement letter 122-134, IBM is allowing customers – as promised back at the COMMON POWERUp event in October – to run the AIX and Linux operating systems on that special configuration of the Power 1022s machine that has two four-core Power10 dual chip modules (DCMs) in the box instead of a single eight-core Power10 single chip module (SCM).

This machine, which we wrote about here, is interesting in that it allows the resulting entry server to have twice as much I/O for the same amount of compute throughput, which is a clever differentiation that also allows IBM to make the most of all of the Power10 chips and packages coming off the fab lines at foundry partner Samsung. In this case, IBM is allowing for one or two of the Power10 DCMs to be installed, so it can have four or eight cores activated. With the IBM i variant, you have to take a pair of four-core DCMs and you have to activate all eight of the cores. As with the IBM i variant, it is important to remember that this server CPU feature complex does not have an upgrade path. You buy it, that’s it.

In the same announcement, IBM made the Power S1022s with two four-core Power10s eligible for the IBM i Solution Edition, which provides discounts and credits when customers buy selected systems software from Big Blue and application software from third party software vendors. You can see the IBM i Solution Edition bundles at this link. IBM is still showing the Power9 server configurations on its Web site, but there are obviously Power10 setups that can be sold as well, including the Power S1022s.

The AIX and Linux support and the Solution Edition eligibility for this Power S1022s configuration were both available on December 9.

Not that this affects IBM i-only Power Systems shops, because IBM i is not supported on the Power E1050 server, in announcement letter 122-135, Big Blue has reinstated the selling of the feature #EJ10 PCI-Express 3.0 SAS tape/DVD adapter card, which was withdrawn from the catalog on September 13.

In announcement letter 922-139, IBM is also telling the HPC community that it is going to stop selling the Nvidia “Volta” V100 GPU accelerators for the Power AC922 supercomputer node. This stands to reason, since Nvidia launched the V100s in 2018 and the “Ampere” A100s in 2020, and in has just started selling its “Hopper” H100 generation launched earlier this year. IBM has given up on chasing exascale-class supercomputer deals, and this has important implications for the Power Systems line. The first is, IBM has lower revenues than it might otherwise have had over a three year HPC system upgrade cycle that it has participated in for decades. And the second is that the Power Systems line is inherently more profitable, particularly in systems where GPUs represent most of the floating point computation in the system. No one makes money selling large HPC systems to the national HPC labs – they break even at best. So in a funny way, IBM is better off without this business, at least in the short term. In the long term, the many generations of Power-based HPC systems that IBM sold largely to the United States government and to several nations in the European Union helped pay for the research and development for Power processors and memory and I/O systems. Any proper accounting of the true costs and benefits of chasing the HPC business would have to take this into account. The upshot is that IBM is now focusing on developing systems that suit the needs of its AIX, IBM i, and Linux customers, which is a good thing.

In announcement letter 222-360, IBM is updating its Copy Services Manager storage middleware to release 6.3.5. Copy Services Manager is a configuration and monitoring tool that manages the various copy services on IBM’s DS8000 series SANs, its SAN Volume Controller and Spectrum Virtualize storage virtualization platforms, its XIV storage clusters, and its FlashSystem A9000 all-flash arrays. The Copy Services Manager provides a single pane of glass to manage the different but often similar copy services that are native to these platforms and specifically supports Metro Mirror, FlashCopy, and SafeGuarded Copy across these storage platforms in addition to Global Mirror functions on the DS8000 and SVC platforms. Copy Services Manager 6.3.5 will be available on December 16.

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