October 6th IBM introduced two new enterprise servers. Let me briefly highlight the most important features.
This year is very special for me, I could participate in the projects about entry Power8 servers, SR-IOV (April), and enterprise models (September). I’ve been given an opportunity to have ‘hands on’ before anything was shared with public.
Update Oct 14th – I just received an information that the SR-IOV will not be supported in the initial GA. Probably there is some delay in testing, and IBM won’t make it ready for Q4. It is still statement of direction to make it in 2015.
Here are the most important facts about E870 & E880 from my point of view.
- System Control Unit. This is the biggest change – IBM decided to move out service processors out from the CEC’s. This is great change. The SCU contains the primary and secondary FSP, and they are completely redundant and independent. The only common thing is the chassis. An administrator doesn’t have to worry which CEC is the primary one. In fact,the system may run in the single CEC configuration and the solution is somehow redundant. Engineers moved into the SCU a DVD drive. Not a bad idea, because since now, many service operations on a DVD required a CEC outage. But its very odd how the DVD drive is connected with a machine. A customer must order a PCIe controller, and connect the drive by an USB cable in the back of the server. In my opinion IBM probably consider that not many customers still use the physical DVD drive. Well,I know few – IBM i conservative 🙂
- E870 & E880 are 5U high. Its one 1U more than it was. Plus always additional 2U for the System Control Unit in a rack.
- New systems with new Power8 processors, and custom DIMMs have amazing bandwidth, and are extremely fast. When I saw the benchmarks, I was impressed. These systems are beasts!
- Each CEC needs twice much power as Power7+. You better talk with your facility guys, because two system unit configuration requires 8KW. In 2015 when 4 system unit configuration become available – its 16KW for a single rack !
- Not need a special (wider) IBM rack for these systems anymore. IBM still ships these systems in the wider rack (7014 T42), but the machine fits into a regular 19″ rack. There is no flex cables anymore, which requires an extra space on the side.
- No support for internal storage. Yep, all storage either within a SAN disk subsystem or an external disk drawer.
- All slots for PCIe adapters in the CEC are low profile only. Double check, if you can move your adapters or you would need an external I/O drawer.
SR-IOV is supported.It is statement of direction to get in run in 2015.
- CAPI interface is not supported in a system unit. In theory, a CAPI interface could be installed in an external I/O drawer, but at this moment there are no supported CAPI adapters available. Also a CAPI interface in the I/O drawer doesn’t make much sense, because there is a delay and bandwidth limitation between processor and the external drawer. Likewise, this is still very new standard which needs a time, so I don’t think its a big issue.
- E870 & E880 comes with PowerVM Enterprise Edition as default
- PowerKVM is not supported
- Operating System support for the enterprise systems : VIOS 126.96.36.199, AIX 6.1 TL8SP4, AIX 7.1 TL3SP4, IBM i 7.1 TR9, IBM i 7.2 TR 1, SUSE 11 SP3, RedHat 6.6
- Server boot time improved. IBM engineers highlighted that there significant improvement with boot time. The service processor initializes the system hardware between 8-10 min.
If you are interested how the server E870 looks like. Nigel posted a great video