IBM AIX 7

Overview of new features and functions

The IBM® AIX® operating system is an open standards-based UNIX® operating system. It provides a highly scalable IT infrastructure for client workloads ranging from small department systems up through enterprise-class workloads, such as data mining, database, transaction processing, and high-performance computing. The latest version, AIX 7.1, includes significant new capabilities for virtualization, security features, availability features, and manageability. AIX V7.1 is the first generally available version of AIX 7.

Sue Pelzel (pelzel@us.ibm.com), ISV AIX and Virtualization Program Manager, IBM

Photo of Sue PelzelSue Pelzel has been an IT architect and consultant at IBM for 27 years. Recently, she worked with some of the largest IBM clients to improve system availability across their datacenters. She specializes in enterprise architecture solutions that encompass both IBM and vendor hardware and software and manages the cross organizational teams that develop and support these heterogeneous infrastructures. Currently, Sue is the IBM ISV AIX and Virtualization Program Manager.



Ralph Nissler (nissler@us.ibm.com), IBM Systems ISV Knowledge and Education Program Manager, IBM

Photo of Ralph NisslerRalph Nissler has been with IBM for over 11 years in product, web and partner communications. In his current role, he manages a program that provides collateral, training and solution roadmaps to IBM Business Partners to help them plan, build and sell their solutions on IBM Systems platforms. You can access the IBM PartnerWorld Systems web pages to find these resources and more to help with IBM Systems development.



07 September 2010

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Introduction

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The IBM AIX V7.1 operating system builds on a solid heritage of supplying integrated, enterprise-class support for IBM Power Systems servers. Industrial-strength features and functions of AIX have been proven in a wide variety of computing environments from small one- or two-processor systems to large 64-processor systems. AIX V7.1 supports IBM systems based on IBM PowerPC 970™, IBM POWER4™, IBM POWER5™, IBM POWER6™, and IBM POWER7® processors with features that include:

  • Workload partitions (WPARs)—software-based virtualization
  • Live Application Mobility (LAM) with the IBM Workload Partitions Manager for AIX
  • 64-bit kernel for higher scalability and performance
  • Dynamic logical partitioning and IBM Micro-Partitioning™ support
    • Automated load balancing
    • Online addition or removal of processors, memory, and I/O resources
  • Support for dedicated and shared processor LPAR groups
  • Trusted AIX: Multi-level, compartmentalized security
  • Integrated role based access control
  • Encrypting enhanced journaled file system (JFS2)
  • Exploitation of IBM POWER7 storage keys with enhanced protection and reliability
  • Concurrent AIX kernel updates, which can reduce need for planned outages
  • Dynamic tracing with ProbeVue
  • Designed to comply with the Open Group SUSv4 standard
  • Robust journaled file system and Logical Volume Manager (LVM) software, including integrated file system snapshot
  • Tools for managing your systems environment—SMIT and the IBM Systems Director Console for AIX

Here's a high-level look at each of the new features and functions of AIX 7.1. You can refer to this list of AIX 7.1 features (PDF, 45KB); the list also contains features and functions of AIX 6.1 Technology Level 6100-06 (TL6), including any operational differences between the two releases.


Base operating system: Virtualization

AIX 5.2 Workload Partitions for AIX 7

Do you have workloads that still run on AIX 5.2? AIX 5.2 Workload Partitions for AIX 7 is a new product supported on AIX 7.1 for POWER7 servers. AIX 7 allows you to create a WPAR that provides an AIX V5.2 TL10 SP8 runtime environment for the workload running in the WPAR. To give you a simple POWER7 migration path for an AIX V5.2 workload running on older hardware, all you have to do is create a mksysb image of the AIX V5.2 system. Then, you provide this image when you create the WPAR on AIX V7.1 running on POWER7 hardware. In addition, you also have LAM support for the AIX V5.2 WPAR between POWER7 systems running AIX V7.1. LAM requires the purchase of IBM PowerVM™ Workload Partitions Manager for AIX or the purchase of AIX V7 Enterprise Edition, which includes IBM PowerVM Workload Partitions Manager for AIX.

Support for the export of fibre channel adapters to WPARS

AIX V7.1 also includes support for exporting a virtual or physical fibre channel adapter to a WPAR. The adapter is exported to the WPAR in the same manner as storage devices. When the WPAR is started, all child devices are discovered and configured inside the WPAR, which provides several advantages. SAN devices can be directly provisioned to the WPAR N-port with no need to provision to the global partition first and then export to the WPAR. Multipath management can be done within the WPAR. In this configuration, fibre channel tape systems using the atape driver are also supported inside the WPAR.

VIOS disk support in a WPAR

With this release of AIX, vSCSI disks are now supported in a WPAR the same way as fibre channel disks. VIO SCSI disks configured in the global partition can be exported to a WPAR for use as a data disk or as the rootvg for the WPAR. You can export any disk type supported by the Virtual I/O Server (VIOS) to a WPAR. In addition, LAM is supported for a rootvg WPAR on vSCSI disks as long as the source and target logical partitions (LPARs) are both clients of VIOS instances with access to the disks.

Trusted kernel extension loading and configuration from a WPAR

AIX V7.1 provides the capability for a global administrator to export specific kernel extensions, allowing a WPAR administrator the ability to load and configure from inside the WPAR. A signature for the specified extensions is computed at the time of export to ensure only the exported extensions can be loaded. The exported extensions can be specified as to whether they are loaded in a local WPAR name space, or globally, and therefore accessible by the global and other WPARs. With this capability, some application stacks that otherwise would require a kernel extension to function in a WPAR environment do not have that requirement anymore. For AIX V7.1, LAM for a WPAR with an exported kernel extension is not supported.

AIX performance tool topas enhancements for Active Memory Expansion

Active Memory Expansion is an innovative POWER7 feature that uses in-memory data compression to expand the memory capacity of POWER7 servers. AIX V7.1 provides additional performance monitoring capabilities when you use Active Memory Expansion. The AIX topas performance monitoring tool has been enhanced to report Active Memory Expansion metrics across all of the LPARs on a server when the CEC view is used. The libperfstat library has also been enhanced to report Active Memory Expansion metrics.


Base operating system: Integration

Designed to comply with Open Group Single UNIX Specification V4

The Open Group is a standards body that publishes the Single UNIX Specification that defines standards for UNIX behavior. Newly updated versions of the standard are published every few years. AIX V7.1 has been enhanced and designed to conform to the latest published version of the UNIX standard: the Single UNIX Specification Version 4 (SUSv4). The new SUSv4 defines incremental changes over the prior standard. Among the new features defined by SUSv4 are some new options to commands such as diff, ls, find, and others; new thread-specific locale application programming interfaces (APIs); and new file-handling APIs that are based on file descriptors.

KSH93 enhancements

AIX V7.1 now provides a newly updated version of the ksh93 shell environment. AIX V6.1 provides a ksh93 based on the ksh93e version of the popular shell, whereas AIX V7.1 now updates ksh93 to be based on ksh93t. In providing this update, you now have access to a variety of new enhancements and improvements made over the past several years by the Korn shell community, resulting in a more robust shell programming experience.

DWARF debugging support

AIX V7.1 adds support for the standard DWARF debugging format, which is a modern standard for controlling the format of debugging information in executables. It is used by a wide variety of operating systems and provides greater extensibility and compactness. The widespread use of DWARF also increases the portability of software for developers of compilers and other debugging tools between AIX and other operating systems.

User Direct Access Programming Library V1.2

AIX V7.1 provides you with the User Direct Access Programming Library (uDAPL) V1.2. The uDAPL V1.2 enables applications to directly leverage the InfiniBand infrastructure for zero-copy, low latency and high performance. With AIX uDAPL, you can incorporate the features provided by the API, including the capability to do remote direct memory access (RDMA). Performance-sensitive applications have a new avenue for direct exploitation of transport capabilities of InfiniBand but without the requirement of being tied to a particular transport. Both GX Dual-port SDR Host Channel Adapter and GX Dual-port DDR Host Channel Adapter and Mellanox ConnectX Single/Dual-Port InfiniBand adapters are supported with uDAPL V1.2.


Hardware enablement and support

Shared memory interface to Barrier Synchronous Register

AIX V7.1 provides support for accessing the POWER7 Barrier Synchronous Register (BSR) using shared memory interfaces from the user space, which allows you to use the BSR without requiring a kernel extension to be loaded.

CPU interrupt disablement

AIX V7.1 includes the ability to disable external interrupts on a specific set of CPUs where a workload is deployed. When enabled, this feature will route certain hardware level interrupts to other CPUs, thereby resulting in less interruption to the workload.

AIX kernel memory pinning

By default, AIX V7.1 pins kernel memory and includes support to allow applications to pin their kernel stack. Pinning kernel memory and the kernel stack for applications with real-time requirements can provide performance improvements by ensuring that the kernel memory and kernel stack for an application is not paged out.

Logical Volume Manager enhanced support for solid state disks

AIX V7.1 includes enhanced support in the AIX Logical Volume Manager (LVM) and JFS2 for solid state disks (SSDs). This includes the capability for LVM to restrict a volume group (VG) to only contain SSDs and the ability to report that a VG only contains SSDs. JFS2 has been enhanced with the capability to capture and report per-file statistics related to hot-file detection that you can use to determine if a file should be placed on an SSD. These capabilities allow for applications to monitor and determine optimal file placement.

Documented kernel sockets API

AIX V7.1 provides an API for kernel extensions to access TCP sockets within the kernel. This allows kernel extensions to act as network clients or servers.

XNTP V4.2.1 support in AIX

The Network Time Protocol (NTP) implementation is updated to xntp V4.2.1. The xntp V4.2.1 includes support for IPv6, new server discovery schemes, orphan mode and other improvements.

EtherChannel enhancement

AIX V7.1 enhances EtherChannel support for the 802.3AD protocol and ensures that a link is Link Aggregation Control Protocol (LACP) ready before sending data packets.

RNIC support

AIX V7.1 provides you with Internet Wide Area RDMA Protocol (iWARP RDMA) over the 10 Gigabit Ethernet-CX4 PCI Express and 10 Gigabit Ethernet-SR PCI Express Adapters. This support includes the porting to AIX of the Open Fabrics 1.4 iWARP stack for Ethernet and provides the framework in allowing for future exploitation of RDMA over Ethernet.


Performance and scalability

Up to 1024-way scalability

AIX V7.1 adds scalability enhancements to the base kernel, drivers and libraries to scale up to 1024-way partitions, which are partitions with 256 processor cores and four hardware threads per core. IBM expects that large workloads and applications that scale well can benefit from this feature.

AIX terabyte segment support

AIX V7.1 introduces a new memory scaling feature that exploits the Power Memory Management Unit (MMU) and reduces Segment Lookaside Buffer (SLB) misses. Large memory workloads running on POWER7 systems benefit the most from this feature.

Cluster aware PERFSTAT library interfaces

AIX V7.1 provides the capability for application developers to retrieve performance statistics of a remote node, participating in a cluster, using a new set of APIs exported as part of standard perfstat library. The new interfaces are supported only on nodes that are part of the AIX Cluster Infrastructure. Applications need to use the libperfstat header file that is shipped as part of AIX 7.1 and AIX V6.1 TL 6 to use the new interfaces and data structures.

Firewall support for clients that use Performance Aide

AIX V7.1 provides the capability for system administrators to choose a range of ports that can be used by the Performance Monitoring Application. It monitors the remote nodes using the Remote Statistic Interface provided by Performance Aide (perfagent.server file set).

Performance Aide and topas recording capability changes

From AIX V7.1, the default location of the recording files generated by topas persistent recording (topasrec tool) is changed from /etc/perf to /var/perf. The log files generated by Performance Aide are also changed to /var/perf.


AIX security

Domain support in Role Based Access Control

In today's growing complex data center and cloud computing environments, isolation of resources is a key security requirement. The domain's support provides this key feature to augment the functionality provided by the Role Based Access Control (RBAC). RBAC provided the capability to allow a non-root user—with proper authorization—to perform specific system administration tasks. You can use domains to provide isolation for the following resources: network interfaces and ports, LVM (includes volume groups and file systems), files, and devices (that have /dev entries).

Enable hardware acceleration support for Encrypted File Systems, IPSec and Trusted Execution

The innovative security technologies implemented in the earlier versions of AIX, namely the Encrypted File Systems (EFS), IP security (IPSec) and Trusted Execution, used software-based cryptographic algorithms. The AIX Cryptographic Framework (ACF) is a cryptographic provider in the AIX operating system. This feature enables these key security technologies to exploit the hardware cryptographic acceleration facility provided by the ACF.

ProPolice, AIX enablement for the new XLC Compiler V11

AIX V7.1 enables the stack-smashing protection provided by IBM ProPolice using XLC compiler V11. You can use this option to minimize the risk of security vulnerabilities in the AIX operating system. All the set user ID (SUID) bit commands and programs shipped in AIX V7.1 have this feature enabled automatically, and no further configurations are required from an end user.

ODM directory permission changes and general security update

AIX V7.1 provides user group scalability and security enhancements such as new password policies and access restriction to ODM directories.

Increased maximum number of groups

Prior to AIX V7.1, the maximum number of groups per user was limited to 128. Now that limit has increased to 2,048 and is configurable for end users to customize.

Designed to comply with Common Criteria CAPP/EAL4+ security certification

AIX 7 was designed to provide security EAL4+ certification from Common Criteria using Operating Systems Protection Profile (OSPP) for AIX V7.1.

IBM Compliance Expert Express Edition

The IBM Compliance Expert Express Edition (5765-G82) has been updated to include a new security profile designed to aid compliance with the Sarbanes Oxley (SOX) and COBIT standards.


Manageability

AIX Profile Manager

The IBM Systems Director 6.2 plug-in AIX Profile Manager is provided as a feature of AIX and distributed with Standard and Enterprise Editions. AIX Profile Manager provides "dashboard" views and runtime configuration profile management over groups of networked systems. The profile management capability includes capturing the runtime configurations, applying the new runtime control values, and comparing the runtime configurations with a given profile or between systems. AIX Profile Manager manages the client AIX systems using the AIX Runtime Expert technology. It also provides "copy machine" like simplicity for distributing operating system properties to many systems.

Profile Manager installs on all supported Systems Director server platforms (Microsoft® Windows®, Linux® and AIX). The Profile Manager leverages the AIX Runtime Expert infrastructure first introduced with AIX 6 Technology Level 4. AIX Runtime Expert provides a simplified solution for managing runtime properties of one or more AIX instances. In AIX V7.1, it provides several enhancements, including performance improvements, the ability to set the version of the configuration profiles to maintain multiple versions, and the ability to set customized descriptors to the profiles. You can also manage AIX Runtime Expert from IBM Systems Director using AIX Profile Manager.

AIX event infrastructure

AIX V7.1 introduces the AIX Event Infrastructure. Implemented as a pseudo file system, the AIX Event Infrastructure simplifies monitoring of events by using one existing API (file system calls such as open(), read() and write()) to monitor many different types of events. Applications can use this infrastructure to monitor predefined system events, such as filesystem utilization, changes to system-tunable parameters, or average wait time of page-in or page-out activity, or customers may define their own events to monitor through the same interface. AIX Event Infrastructure provides you with a simple API, immediate notification of events without the need for constant polling, and the extensibility to monitor your own and third-party events.

Network Installation Manager (NIM) Thin Server support

NIM Thin Server helps add support for NFS4 and IPv6 in NIM for thin servers (diskless and dataless machines). NIM currently supports NFS4 and IPv6 for stand-alone machines. Although it is possible to allocate resources to a diskless or dataless client using NFS4, the client does not start up because the diskless or dataless boot script does not know how to handle NFS4 file systems during startup. Similarly, a diskless or dataless client defined with an IPv6 address will fail to boot.

Distributed Systems Management

Distributed Systems Management (DSM) was introduced with AIX V6.1 TL 3. DSM refers to a collection of programs used to enhance the capabilities of the AIX Network Installation Manager. These programs allow an administrator to collect network adapter information and monitor installation progress for NIM client machines and also enables bare-metal installation of the AIX operating system on clients with no operating system previously installed.

System management console support

System Management functions, previously available from the web-based System Manager (WebSM) application, are now available through the IBM Systems Director Console for AIX. IBM Systems Director Console for AIX is a web-based management console that provides centralized access to system administrators. Through this interface, system administrators can view, monitor and manage systems in a distributed environment. Administrators have access to aggregated views, grouping functions, distributed command execution, health, and status information, as well as the ability to manage individual systems through familiar interfaces such as the System Management Interface Tool (SMIT).


Reliability availability and serviceability

AIX 7.1 (Standard Edition and Enterprise Edition) supports built-in clustering capabilities. Administrators can use the operating system-provided primitives to cluster a set of AIX nodes and take advantage of the capabilities of the clustering. Some of the functions supported by Cluster Aware AIX include:

  • Commands to create the cluster across a set of AIX systems—Kernel-based heartbeats and messages provide a robust cluster infrastructure and, by default, exploit multi-channel communication between the nodes using the network and SAN physical links.
  • Advanced cluster-wide event management—AIX event management is enhanced to support cluster-wide event notifications for certain events (for example, network or disk errors).
  • Global Device View support—When managed by Cluster Aware AIX, device files associated with the disks shared across the nodes in the cluster will have a common name across the nodes in the cluster that have access to the disks.
  • Cluster-wide command operation—Many of the security- and storage-related AIX commands have been enhanced to support the operation across the cluster.

User keys enhancement

AIX V7.1 provides a facility for a user with sufficient privileges to modify the number of hardware keys available for user keys. This allows more segmentation of user memory. It provides a smitty option to exercise this facility with the right set of options. Updating the number of user keys requires a bosboot and a subsequent system restart to become effective.

Multi-node First Failure Data Capture

AIX V7.1 provides a framework called Clustering Data Aggregation Tool for enabling more rapid analysis and root-cause identification for problems that arise in workloads that span multiple operating system instances. It provides a single point from which to launch reliability, availability and security (RAS) debug and monitoring actions and to collect problem determination data for a collection of nodes. It consolidates RAS data to a single node, supports "pushing" out data-gathering tools to nodes, reduces overhead work for system admin, debugger or pre-installation on each remote node, and provides the extensible plug-in feature for First Failure Data Capture (FFDC) user new defined data type collection. It has simple configuration and secure communication with integrating RBAC to enable non-root users to collect FFDC data. You can control it using command line and SMIT panel.

Firmware-assisted dump

AIX V7.1 extends firmware-assisted dump capabilities to make it the default system dump method if it is supported by the platform. It provides flexibility for you to change the dump type back to a traditional system dump after the installation. The firmware-assisted dump also supports arbitrary non-boot iSCSI disks. This allows the system to start over from either another iSCSI disk or by using BOOTP/TFTP to load the kernel images and NFS to mount the root file system. The primary dump device is the entire iSCSI physical volume.

Enhanced ProbeVue functionality

With AIX V7.1, you can probe function exits, probe functions in specific modules, probe Fortran executables using ProbeVue. ProbeVue has also been enhanced to probe specific processes at intervals. You can access specific fields from the process, thread, user and mst structures. ProbeVue has also been enhanced to provide associative arrays to store and analyze data as part of the scripting language.


Globalization

Unicode 5.2 support

AIX V7.1 now provides a powerful multilingual environment for storage servers and supports 61 languages and more than 250 locales based on the latest Unicode technology. Unicode encodings and algorithms are used for internal and external communications in the AIX system. The latest version (Unicode 5.2) provides standardized character positions for over 6,648 additional glyphs and 107,156 glyphs in all. AIX 7 enhances the existing language and locales, bringing them up to compliance with Unicode V5.2.

Alias code-set name support

AIX V7.1 adds a code-set alias mapping function to enhance code-set conversion in libiconv. The code-set conversion is one of the fundamental globalization services in most platforms. As a multilingual storage server, AIX provides more than 1,600 modules for code-set conversion services. In a cloud computing environment, problems with code-set name compliance can cause data corruption, application exceptions, system crashing, poor portability, and conversion failures. The alias code set name support helps minimize code-set name compliance problems and enhance quality on the code set conversion. When the AIX code-set conversion function gets a request with non-AIX code set names, the alias mapping function attempts to map suitable AIX code set names for the request.

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