Happy New Year everyone!
Well it's Tuesday again, and you know what that means? IBM Announcements!
(Update: I thought it was quite clever to announce the new z13 mainframe on January the 13th. A few [triskaidekaphobic] employees pointed out that certain [Greek and Spanish-speaking cultures] consider Tuesday the 13th to be an unlucky day. However, superstitious people should probably not work in IT, as it would be difficult for a worldwide company like IBM to avoid all the numbers that different cultures consider unlucky.)
IBM will have a live streaming event on Jan 14, Redefining Digital Business: The new generation of IBM z Systems], for those who want to hear the announcement in more detail. Here is what the invitation page has to offer:
You are cordially invited to join IBM on January 14 from 2:00pm to 4:30pm Eastern Standard Time (US) when IBM will share a whole new generation of IBM z Systems™ built to meet the needs of your digital business. Join us and learn how IBM z Systems are designed to:
- Support the transaction growth and needs of the mobile generation and the Internet of things
- Integrate data, transactions and analytics, for in-transaction insights and right-time actions
- Provide secure, trusted and efficient cloud services with new economic models
- Exploit new modern, open development environments, tooling and skills for greater returns
At this live streaming event, you will hear from a remarkable group of business and technology leaders who will share success stories, best practices and the exciting technology innovations and capabilities of the new generation of IBM z Systems. Go to the Registration page] to participate.
But what does this really mean? Are you thinking BFD?
(Update: For those not familiar with IT acronyms, BFD refers to "Bigger, Faster, Denser" -- the trend in IT to announce new generations that are merely bigger, faster, and/or denser versions of the previous generations. Fortunately, the z13 takes up the same amount of data center floor space -- 2 floor tiles = 2 square meters = 20 square feet -- and weighs approximately the same as the z196 and zEC12, so raised floor struts do not have to be strengthened or reinforced to take in this new system.)
You may have noticed that we are now talking about "z System" instead of "System z". This change was made to line up with IBM's change to "POWER Systems" from "System p". Leadership felt that dropping the stodgy old zEnterprise and giving the mainframe a "hip" new name would attract new emerging digital workloads like Cloud, Analytics, Mobile and Social.
This is not the first time IBM has renamed products in a series. While the IBM mainframe just celebrated its 50th anniversary last year, the "13" refers to the 13th generation of CMOS-based mainframe technology introduced in 1994. Here is a quick table to show you the names that have evolved over the years:
|1 to 6||S/390 G1 to G6|
|7||zSeries z800 and z900|
|8||zSeries z890 and z990|
|9 to 10||System z9 and z10|
|11||System z196 and z114|
|12||zEnterprise zEC12 and zBC12|
(Note: This change also corresponds to a completely restructuring of IBM into business units, eliminating its former hardware and software groups. The design and development of all mainframe-related hardware, software and middleware will be consolidated under the IBM Systems business unit. I will wait for IBM's 4Q financial results announcement on or after January 20 before I cover this in any more detail.)
The z13 machine itself has some unique differences from previous generations. Instead of a "Multi-chip Module" (MCM) that contained multiple processor and storage controllers on a single slab, the z13 uses Single-Chip Modules (SCM) that are either a single 8-core processor, or a single system controller, allowing them to be field replaceable units (FRU).
Previous generations organized the processors in 1 to 4 vertical "books". The problem was that if you had a single book system, you bought a lot of hardware infrastructure designed to support a full four books. In the new design, processors are organized into horizontal Central Processor Complex (CPC) drawers, with additional hardware infrastructure provided per drawer. This makes the lower-end models more affordable. Each drawer has six processor SCMs and two system controller SCMs, providing 39 to 42 usable cores per drawer. Models ranges from 30 to 141 usable cores, with the option to upgrade from one model to another as your needs grow.
The z13 provides N-2 generation compatibility. This means you can have the z196, zEC12 and z13 all participate in the same Parallel Sysplex. You will also be able to upgrade your z196 or zEC12 to the new z13 system.
The new z13 can have up to 10TB of memory, and this can be assigned entirely to a single Logical Partition, or LPAR. The system can be subdivided up to 85 LPARs, versus 60 on the previous generation. Currently, z/OS v1 can only have up to 1TB per LPAR, and z/OS v2 can only go up to 4TB, so I suspect this 10TB is planning for future OS releases.
The new z13 now offers Simultaneous Multithreading [SMT]. Initially, this will double the number of threads for IFL engines (supporting Linux and z/VM), and zIIP engines supporting DB2, Java, XML and IPsec workloads. IBM is eliminating the zAAP engines, since zIIP engines can do all of that. The new [Preview z/OS v2.2] will take advantage of this SMT capability.
To assist with database, analytics and multimedia workloads, the z13 offers Single Instruction, Multiple Data [SIMD] capability. This allows a single instruction to perform the same update or action across many data fields.
For those clients with zBX models 2 and 3, allowing you to run POWER-based AIX and x86-based Microsoft Windows and Linux operating systems on your mainframe, they will be able to upgrade to [zBX model 4 for the z13 System]. Now that IBM has sold off its x86 server business to Lenovo, I suspect it will also phase out the zBX offerings as well.
To handle emerging workloads of Cloud, Mobile and other Web applications, IBM will offer a new stronger and faster Crypto Express5S cryptographic adapter. The z13 will enhance public key support for constrained digital environments using Elliptic Curve Cryptography (ECC) for users such as Chrome, Firefox, and Apple's iMessage. The z13 will also minimize reformatting of databases with new exploitation of VISA format preserving encryption (FPE) for credit card numbers.
The z13 also made some enhancements for Linux clients. The zAware analytics that analyzes internal traces and logs for z/OS has been extended to support Linux on System z. For those who want to use GDPS Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery services, but don't want to develop z/OS skills for the "K" system, there will now be a Virtual GDPS appliance that will run self-contained z/OS. Lastly, IBM has made a statement of direction that it will support open source Linux KVM as a Linux-only alternative to z/VM hypervisor. OpenStack will support both this new Linux KVM as well as z/VM 6.3 release.
The PCIe bus has been upgraded to Gen3 at 16Gbps, from Gen2 used in the zEC12. These can be used for Coupling Facility Links, which are faster than the legacy 6 Gbps InfiniBand, which are also supported for legacy migration. People with z196 and zEC12 can either carry forward their I/O drawers they have previously purchased, or move the PCiE Gen2 cards into the new Gen3 drawers.
The new z13 will also support 16Gb FICON, using the new FICON Express5S cards. Here is my segue into storage, as you are probably now wondering when I was going to get to the storage part of the announcement!
IBM is also announcing corresponding changes to the DS8870 firmware and accessories to go with the z13 System. This includes:
- FICON Dynamic Routing
Reduce cost with improved and persistent performance for supporting I/O devices. This feature will allow SAN directors to have both FICON and FCP share the same Inter-switch Links (ISL). This is especially useful for clients who use FCP with their Linux, z/VM, AIX or Windows workloads.
- 16Gb Host Adapters
Improve network performance with twice faster FC and FICON adapters, and minimize latency for database log writes with zHyperWrite and Metro Mirror. These 16Gb adapters can auto-negotiate down to 4Gb and 8Gb, so that the DS8870 can connect to both the new z13 mainframe, as well as older models.
- Forward Error Correction
Preserve data integrity with more redundancy on the information transmitted via 16Gb adapters.
- zHPF Extended Distances improvements
Increase remote data speed with 50 percent better I/O performance when accessing remote disk, typically after a HyperSwap. The "zHPF" acronym is short for z System High Performance FICON.
- Fabric Priority
Improved resiliency capabilities while enhancing the value of FICON Dynamic Routing mentioned above. IBM is extending Workload Manager (WLM) Quality of Service (QoS) optimization that exists now for compute and storage to the SAN Fabric, allowing WLM policies to influence FICON traffic.
- IBM zHyperWrite™ capability
- Helps you achieve better DB2 log write performance when using Metro Mirror (PPRC) in a HyperSwap-managed environment. Log writes are sent directly to both DASD, freeing up Metro Mirror resources.
But don't just take my word for it, here are reviews of the new system from various journalists:
"They seem a computing odd couple: the mainframe, the old workhorse, and the smartphone, the cool-kid computer of today. But IBM has designed the latest version of the mainframe, which is being introduced on Wednesday, with the smartphone in mind. The new mainframe, the z13, has been engineered to cope with the huge volume of data and transactions generated by people using smartphones and tablets."
-- New York Times
"One customer enthusiastic about such features is Citigroup Inc., a longtime IBM user that favors mainframes for both reliability and security. 'Security is in the DNA of the mainframe,' said Martin Kennedy, Citi's managing director for platforms and storage. Another factor shaping the bank's needs, Mr. Kennedy said, is the rising volume of transactions carried out using smartphones and other mobile devices. Mainframes are particularly good at combining data from a variety of systems and presenting them to a user's mobile app, he said."
-- The Wall Street Journal
"IBM is introducing a new mainframe in a bet that clients will need its souped-up speed and security to handle a surge in consumers using smartphones for everything from banking to checking health-care records. The z13 system can encrypt and analyze data in real time and process 30,000 transactions a second, International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) announced today. That means faster and safer transactions for consumers on mobile phones."
"With the unveiling of the z13, IBM has taken its MobileFirst Platform to deliver even better performance and security than before, as it incorporates the fastest microprocessor in the world, server processors that are twice as fast as existing products, 300 percent additional memory and 100 percent more bandwidth analytics speed. Last year, IBM formed a partnership with Apple to help bring Apple's iDevices to business customers to boost sales, with IBM providing cloud and mobile analytics support."
-- The Street
"'We're driving toward a world where more and more people are using mobile devices, or embedded devices, to interact with systems,' John Birtles, director of IBM z Systems, tells WIRED. 'We need to make sure that those devices are secure, that the transaction's secure, and that our clients get the level of analytics that gives them opportunities to improve their businesses.'"
IBM mainframes are used to process the majority of financial transactions around the world, is well positioned to handle Cloud, Analytics, Mobile and Social workloads. The IBM DS8000 series disk is the #1 market leader for disk storage on mainframe environments.