Tuesday, October 21, 2008

z10 BC : Smart, Cool, Affordable : z Can Do IT

Today IBM announced the z10 BC : ‘IBM System z10 Business Class - The smart choice for your business. z can do IT better (ZG08-0806)’. Usually there’s a gap of about a year between the announcement of the high-end model (EC) and the midrange model (BC). But everyone seems to know the drill by now. So, as people seemed to be waiting for the z10 BC, it was announced somewhat earlier this time. At the same time there is the GA2 announcement of the z10 EC : ‘IBM System z10 Business Class - The smart choice for your business. z can do IT better (ZG08-0843)’. So, I’ll split my comments into two blog entries. In the first one, I’m going to walk you through the new functionalities and features specific to the z10 BC. In a second blog entry, I’ll talk about the new features that the z10 BC and the z10 EC GA2 haven in common like zHPF, OSA-Express3, new Capacity on Demand features, Plan Ahead memory ...

Here’s an overview of the new functionalities on the z10 BC :

Click on images for larger view in new window

Technical specifications
The z10 BC is machine type 2098. The BC is just as it’s predecessors a one frame box which is air-cooled. Unlike the z9 BC (with the R07 and S07) there is only one model : the E10. It has 12 PUs of which two are standard SAPs. This leaves us with 10 configurable PUs which can be defined as CP, IFL, ICF, zAAP, zIIP and optionally as additional SAP. When all 10 PUs are configured, there are no spare processors left.
The minimum requirement for memory of 8GB on the z9 BC has been reduced to 4GB on the z10 BC - 'affordable' remember. This 4GB, however, stands entirely at the disposal of the customer. Just like with the z10 EC, there’s a fixed reserved 8GB of memory for the HSA. The maximum of memory for the customer is 120GB. Halfway 2009 this will be raised to 248GB.
The processor is a quad-core processor with 3 active cores. The uni-processor reaches 3.5GHz which is 150% faster than its predecessor.
Upgrades are possible from any z890 or z9 BC. Just beware that upgrades from the z9 BC are only available from November 30, 2008 onwards. You can upgrade from a z890 as of October 28, 2008. When upgrading, do keep in mind that the z10 BC is somewhat higher (7cm) and somewhat deeper (23cm) than the z9 BC.

From here on, I’m just going to pick out some of the really new elements. I’m not going to come back on the elements which were already introduced with the z10 EC like Hardware Decimal Floating Point, the use of the InfiniBand Technology as replacement for the STIs or as Coupling Links or for the STP, the reserved memory for the HSA... You can read about that in my introduction to the z10 EC.

One model with larger granularity
The introduction of two models on the z9 BC seemed a somewhat artificial division. Initially it also had some harsh repercussions on the CBU pricing. As this was changed afterwards, there really was no need for splitting up the machine into two models. So with the z10 BC, we’re back to one model, the z10 BC E10.
As stated, the z10 BC has 10 configurable PUs of which 5 can be defined as traditional CPs. Every engine has 26 capacity settings, the letters of the alphabet in fact. This brings us to a total of 130 capacity settings ranging from A01 to Z05. The ‘A01’ has one engine with the lowest capacity setting (A), the ‘Z05’ has 5 engines with the highest capacity setting (Z).

Under the covers : Hot-pluggable I/O drawers and SCM vs MCM

From the outside you might get the impression that the z10 BC is a copy of the A-frame of the z10 EC. However, under the covers we find a significantly changed design that, for the first time, breaks with the traditional CEC and I/O cages that had not changed since the announcement of the z900 in 2000. We are now talking about hot-pluggable SCMs (vs. MCMs) and hot-pluggable I/O drawers (instead of cages). You really need a picture to get a good view of the differences :

As you can see, the I/O cage has been replaced by 1 to 4 I/O drawers. Each one contains 8 I/O cards (4 in the front and 4 in the back) and is horizontally placed instead of the former vertical placement. The drawers are hot-pluggable and even concurrent replacement is possible when other cards can take over the I/O load.
Also the CEC with its book structure has disappeared and is replaced by a processor drawer. Cooling seems to be one of the main reasons to come up with this new design. The processor has become much faster but IBM still wants this machine to be air-cooled. Therefore, the main difference with the z9 BC is that IBM switches from the traditional MCM (Multi-Chip Module) to an SCM (Single Chip Module).

The PU and SC (System Controller) modules are no longer together on an MCM (as you can see above) but each single chip module is assembled into a heat sink, as you can see below :

That explains the top sight of the CPC drawer you see in the overall picture with 4 PU SCMs and 2 SC SCMS.

I you want to take the machine further apart, virtually of course, then there's an online demo over here : just click on the 'Product Demo' tab.

As we find the other new z10 BC features to a large extent also back in the z10 EC GA2 annoncement, I’ll discuss those in my next post.

More good news : Some pricing issues
Just to close up, here are some nice pricing issues :
  • there’s typically still no cost for taking along specialty engines from the z890 or z9 to the z10 BC allthough the engines are once again far more powerfull.
  • the mips-mus ratio (for software pricing) has again been lowered by 10%. Coming from a z890 this gives you a 19% dividend.
  • The maintenance prices have been brought down again.
  • I quote : “50% price reduction on Specialty Engines for System z”10 BC”
  • Quoting again : “62% price reduction on Memory for System z10 BC or EC when purchased after October 21, 2008, and with a Specialty Engine1 for new workloads”
  • Just one more : MSU for the smallest model (z10 BC A01) goes down from 4 to 3 MSU.

System z10 BC : availability dates
Z10 BC E10 Announcement : October 21, 2008
Z10 BC E10 availability : October 28, 2008
Z10 BC E10 model capacity conversions : January 28, 2009
Z890 upgrades to z10 BC : October 28, 2008
Z9 BC upgrades to z10 BC : November 30, 2008
Z10 BC MES features : January 28, 2009
Upgrade from z10 BC to z10 EC Model E12 : January 28, 2009
Memory size maximum up to 248GB: planned for June 30, 2009

Next posts coming up :
I'll have another post on z10 BC and z10 EC on their combined new features.
I'll have a post on the new storage announcements about the TS7720
As soon as all documentation is available, I'll try to put everything together.

So thanks for reading my posts and I hope to see you back soon !


Anonymous said...

And the price for this is?

Anonymous said...


This z10 BC is very interesting. However where can we find the MIPs to MSU rating of this model? So we can compare what would be a better match for our clients requirements. Like the z10 EC MSU-MIPS table.

Anonymous said...

Is there any benchmark available comparing z9BC with z10BC or system z with a system p? Say, a benchmarking software run on different systems and results tabulated?