Local, Near & Far Memory part 9 - Firmware Updates
nagger 100000MRSJ Visits (9463)
The Hypervisor makes the virtual machine (LPAR) placement decisions and changes during DLPAR. The Hypervisor is part of the Power Systems Firmware. The POWER7 machines first arrived in the early months of 2010. Since then we have had a lot of field experience with the larger machines with large configurations with large applications and tens of thousands of processes running and in particularly the machines with all three layers of memory - which are the Power 770, Power 780 and Power 795. From this experience, the POWER developers have refined the performance and VM placement algorithms, thresholds and tuning options. Some of this is reflected in the newer versions and service packs of AIX since the announcement, in particular AIX 6.1 TL05 and latest service pack and any AIX 7.1. But it is easy to forget or postpone the updating of system firmware (and Hypervisor) due to the outages this can cause. Of course, if you have gone for Live Partition Mobility (LPM) then system firmware upgrades are very simple and very easy to schedule ... OK simpler and easier!
I would like to highlight that the POWER7 firmware developers don't have a marketing department :-) This means there are not a lot of web pages, presentations or Technical University sessions with details of the new features or improvements in each release. You can read the "um" README Fix History but the one line descriptions there are vague. I could find no official website page describing CPU and Memory Affinity improvements in recent firmware level releases but from talking to developers I know there are lots and lots. These are in the areas of
It has been one year since the last POWER7 machine was Generally Available (IBM speak for shipping) and the lessons learnt in that year are in the latest systems firmware.
Given the lack of official information that I can share publicly, all I can say is:
I STRONGLY ENCOURAGE ALL POWER7 MACHINES TO BE UPGRADED TO A MINIMUM OF FIRMWARE 730
which has been out for months (May 2011) or any further updates after that. Oh and it includes HIPER fixes - which everyone should want as soon as possible.
Firmware README - history with descriptions of improvements: