Tuesday, July 18, 2017

IBM z14 - designed to help you build leadership in trusted digital experiences

General Introduction

Yesterday on July 17, 2017, IBM announced the new z14 “IBM z14, designed to help you build leadership in trusted digital experiences” (ZG17-0017). Allthough the strategy that lead to the technical choices is really important, I’ll mainly concentrate on the technical aspects. But still, I want to share this slide, from a presentation on z14, that really sums up what it’s all about.

Click on image for larger version

Whatever platform you are using for your business, its core will always be your data and the applications you build around them.But some platforms might be more suitable to serve that purpose than others. And we all know that the mainframe has always been that kind of platform. With the new announcement of the z14 we see today, lots of attention goes to the data.
  • How can we protect our data ? Think about data breaches or compliance regulations like GDPR.
  • How can we use it to create business advantages ? Think about analytics and machine learning.
  • And how do we expand the reach of our business by providing transparent access to application developers using APIs ? Think about how anyone can develop and deliver z/OS-based assets in minutes via RESTful APIs. It’s really not a coincidence that 80% of the world’s data and transactions reside on or pass through the mainframe.

On to the technical aspects.
No suprises concerning the name : IBM z14. The model is 3906. Don’t ask why. The looks have pretty much stayed the same with a nice touch of blue added. And there’s the addition of thin covers. But more about that in the physical planning.
There’s the usual growth but once again there’s a really big increase on the memory side. We go from a maximum of 10TB to a maximum of 32TB. This means we go from 2.5TB per drawer to 8TB per drawer.


Here's an overview of the most important new functions and/or improvements

Click on image for larger version

Let's tackle some of the highlights now.

Models and sub-capacity settings

Similar to the z13 the new system has four regular models and one large sized model, but the naming is a bit different, or should I say, easier. No fooling around with numbers of engines and hexadecimal ingenuities. Just M01, M02, M03, M04 and the larger model M05. For the regular models, every drawer has 41 PUs and with the M05 each drawer has 49 PUs.

There are 2 designated spares per system. We have 5 SAPs per book. So if we take e.g. the M01 with 41 PUs, we subtract the 5 SAPs and the 2 spare processors, that leaves us with 34 PUs. Each system also has 1 IFP. And so we reach 33 usable processors for the first drawer. Consequent drawers have an additional 36 processors. As usual processors can be defined as Central Processors (CPs), ICFs, IFLs, zIIPs and optionally as additional SAPs. Here’s the overview of the PU allocation on the IBM z14. The z14 continues to support a 2 to 1 ratio for the zIIPs. zAAP are already out of the picture since the z13.

A full processor (the 701 or a specialty engine) has a capacity of 1.832 mips as opposed to 1.695 on the z13. We have again three sub-capacity levels (4-, 5-, -6) now for up to 33 CPs.

Memory : up to 32TB

As I mentioned already, the amount of memory in the system has again hugely increased. For the z13 the system minimum was 64GB and went up to 2.5TB per book and up to 10 TB for the entire system. Which was already pretty impressive. Now we see the following picture :

We start at a minimum of 256GB and go up to an amount of 8TB per drawer. An additional 192 GB of memory is reserved next to the customer purchased amount for the Hardware System Area (HSA). Next to that, more memory is in the box and is used for IBM Virtual Flash Memory (VFM) at which we will come back later on.

Processor design improvements

Processor speed
Last time we went down from 5.5GHz to 5.0GHz. Now we’re going up again to 5.2GHz.

CPC changes and cache
The z13 also saw the introduction of drawers with Single Chip Modules instead of Multi Chip Modules in previous versions. The 8-core chip has now become a 10-core chip. For the techies I add an illustration of a fully populated z13 CPC drawer compared to a fully populated z14 CPC drawer.

The main difference is that the two SC SCMs have been reduced to one per drawer on the z14. The on-core level 1 and level 2 caches have increased just as the on-chip level 3 cache. The level 4 cache has decreased a bit but this is countered by the fact that a single system controller means less latency.

Additional improvements
  • New instructions in the single instruction, multiple data (SIMD) facility offer a boost for traditional workloads using decimal operations (i.e. COBOL 6.2, PL/I 5.2) and new application like analytics (i.e. Apache Spark for z/OS).
  • The z14 delivers next generation simultaneous multithreading (SMT). SMT on the z14 improves throughput up to 25 percent for an IFL or zIIP to benefit exploiters. SMT has been extended to support the dedicated I/O processors called System Assist Processors (SAPs).
  • The new Guarded Storage Facility (GSF) will deliver ‘as good as’ pause-less garbage collection to enable enterprise scale Java applications to run with fewer and shorter pauses for garbage collection.
  • The compression co-processor in each core has been improved to use fewer CPU cycles for compression and expansion and to support DB2 index compression. These features enable further improvements in DB2 memory usage, data transfer, and storage efficiency.


And what are the upgrade scenarios ?

You can upgrade from any air cooled zEC12 and z13 model to any z14 model. Upgrading from a water cooled model goes only to a z14 water cooled model.

Another remark : Upgrading from a z14 model M01-M04 to a model M05 is not supported. The M05 is factory build only.

Pervasive encryption

This is an important one. In short, encryption should be pervasive, transparant and without performance nor application impact.
Therefore the z14 brings pervasive encryption at all levels as indicated in the illustration below. It’s set up in order to defend and protect your critical assets with encryption but without compromising transactional throughput or response times. And it requires no application changes.

By encrypting as much of your data and transactional pipeline as possible, you can reduce potential data breach risks and financial losses - and comply with complex regulatory mandates like GDPR. The IBM z14 gives you a transparent approach to encrypt virtually all of in-flight and at-rest data.

Further, pervasive encryption can dramatically simplify data protection and reduce the costs of regulatory compliance. Using simple policy controls, z14 pervasive computing streamlines data protection for mission critical DB2 for z/OS, IMS and virtual storage access method (VSAM) datasets.

The Central Processor Assist for Cryptographic Function (CPACF), standard on every core, supports pervasive encryption and provides hardware acceleration for encryption operations. It does this 2-6X faster than the z13 for data in-flight and at-rest.
And the new Crypto Express6S card gets a performance boost on z14. It gives on average a 1.5X to 2X performance increase over Crypto Express5S.
Combined, these two enhancements perform encryption more efficiently on the z14 than on earlier IBM Z servers.

Here’s an overview of the possibilities with the new Crypto Express6 card

New features : IBM Virtual Flash Memory

IBM Virtual Flash Memory (VFM) entirely replaces the Flash Express card and has the same use cases.
But . . . is more performant. Estimations give up to 10% end to end performance improvement and (yes) 1000X improvement in Read/Write latency. You might remember the picture that was often shown to illustrate the performance gain you had with Flash Express. Well, we go one step further up the ladder.

As far as capacity, you can go from 1.5TB up to 6TB, which means 1.5TB per drawer.

And you can compare VFM to HSA. It’s memory but it doesn’t take away any memory from the purchased user memory.

For those who already have Flash Express : during the upgrade there’s a feature conversion for it towards VFM. Additonal advantage : it saves you the two PCIe I/O drawer slots and there’s less power consumption.

And to be complete : the same will be happening with zEDC. Its functionality will also move to the CP in the next generation.

New features : Secure Service Containers

Apart from the name, I don’t think I should call this new. The first occurrence of this one was zAware introduced with the z12 back in 2012. 

You could call zAware a container like solution avant la lettre. But then again, what to say about Coupling Facilities. Later on with the z13, zAware was renamed to zACI or z Appliance Container Infrastructure. So now, Secure Service Containers is the new name for it. Containers have by now ‘conquered’ the world and it illustrates once again that the mainfame is quite a modern platform. For those not familiar with it, here’s a definition of Docker containers.
"Docker containers wrap up a piece of software in a complete filesystem that contains everything it needs to run: code, runtime, system tools, system libraries – anything you can install on a server. This guarantees that it will always run the same, regardless of the environment it is running in."
Software appliances are zAware, z/VSE Network Appliance and Operations Analytics for z Systems.

As we already talked about Pervasive Encryption, the Secure aspect is definitely important here. Here’s a couple of characteristics in favour of Secure Service Containers
  • Reduces tampering or malware risk by validating application code during appliance installation and runtime
  • Ensures confidentiality of data and code running within the appliance with automatic encryption – both at flight and at rest
  • Provides simplified mechanism for fast deployment and management of packaged solutions
  • Management provided via Remote APIs (RESTful) and web interfaces

You can find more information in Redbook SC28-6971 User's Guide. Not yet published at the moment this blog post was issued.


Here’s the new connectivity features
  • FICON Express16S+ (FC/FCP/zHPF)
  • 1 GbE OSA Express6S (LX or SX)
  • 10 GbE OSA Express6S (LR or SR)
  • OSA Express6S 1000BASE-T
  • 10GbE RoCE Express2 (new feature)
  • zHyperLink Express
Before I get to some of those, here’s a couple of graphs of what can be ordered on a new z14 and what can be carried forward. Everything that’s not mentioned like FICON Express8, Crypto Express4S and of course Flash Express cannot be ordered nor carried forward.

FICON Express16S+ should, in combination with zHPF, give a real performance boost for FICON as well as FCP performance.

zHyperlink Express is entirely new.and starts off where zHPF ends. For the moment it only works with DS8880.

zHyperLink is a short distance mainframe attach link designed for up to 10x lower latency than High Performance FICON. zHyperLink will initially speed DB2 for z/OS transaction processing and later improve DB2 active Log throughput and VSAM applications.

zHyperLink Express should give 7x faster read access and 10x faster writes of data.

Coupling Technology enhancements : Coupling Express LR
These are new Ethernet based Coupling Links using 10GbE RoCE technology. As a matter of fact, as you can read in the Statements of Direction, the IBM z14 will be the last z Systems high-end server to support HCA3-O LR fanout for 1x IFB (#0170). Customers should begin to think about a migration strategy for moving from 1X PSIFB to Coupling Express LR.
Another difference with its predecessor : this is a card taking up a slot in the PCIE I/O drawer. It’s the same adapter as RoCE Express2 but with Coupling Optics and firmware. The distance is 10 km unrepeated and up to 100 km with a qualified DWDM. The cabling utilizes the same 9u Single Mode fiber type as 1X IFB.
It becomes also available on the z13/z13s systems but it will require an IML before the first Coupling Express LR may be utilized. So a planned outage is necessary on those machines.

Physical planning

For the physical planning, nothing much has changed.
  • Floor space – No change unless ordering Thin Covers
  • Overhead I/O or Power – No change
  • Power – No change to typical power consumption
  • Environment – New ASHRAE A3 Classification (40C°/104F° maximum ambient temperature)
  • Customer Water – No change
  • Weight – Slight increase in weight depending on configuration
  • Airflow – No change
  • New Feature - Thin Covers : System depth for air cooled machines with thin covers is reduced by 14.7 inch or 37.33 cm and weight is reduced by 108 lbs or 49 kilo.

Operating systems support

z/OS Support Plan :
  • z/OS 2.3 Sept. 29, 2017 GA
  • z/OS 2.2 with PTFs
  • z/OS 2.1 with PTFs
  • z/OS 1.13 (compatibility only)
    • IBM Software Support Services purchase
    • September 2016, EoS
z/VM Support Plan :
  • z/VM 6.4 with PTFs
  • z/VM 6.3 with PTFs
z/VSE Support Plan:
  • z/VSE 6.2 Preview 4/11/17
  • z/VSE 6.1 with PTFs
  • z/VSE 5.2 with PTFs
    • October 31, 2018 = EoS
  • z/VSE 5.1
    • June 30, 2016 = EoS, limited toleration
  • Earlier releases can not IPL
Linux for System z Support Plan : Minimum Distributions
  • SLES 12 SP2
  • SLES 11 SP4
  • RHEL 7.3
  • RHEL 6.8
  • Ubuntu 16.04
One remark from IBM : “IBM cannot legally discuss z14 exploitation prior to GA from distributors”

Software pricing

MLC – AWLC pricing
The software pricing is again pretty straightforward this time. It remains the same for MLC : AWLC. Still, there’s a benefit of on average 5%. How is it realized ? Quite simple, there’s a reduction on some softwares depending on the MSUs of the machine, as also happened with the z13.

NEW : Container Pricing
IBM is introducing Container Pricing for IBM Z for qualified solutions running on IBM z13 and z14 servers. Container Pricing will provide simplified software pricing for qualified solutions.

Container Pricing can scale from collocated solutions within existing LPARs, through to separate LPARs, up to multiple-LPAR solutions, without directly impacting the cost of unrelated workloads.
Additionally, Container Pricing will simplify pricing and billing on the IBM Z platform, by superseding a number of existing price offerings and by fully automating the billing process.

One example : the Payments Solution will provide a "per payment" pricing option for IBM Financial Transaction Manager for z/OS deployments. This new offering directly ties operational cost to business value by basing the price on the number of payments processed, rather than capacity used to process them.

Container Pricing for IBM Z is planned to be available by year end 2017 and enabled in z/OS V2.2 and z/OS V2.3.

NEW : Sub-capacity pricing for z/VM and z/VM based programs
Sub-capacity pricing for the z/VM V6 operating environment is available to clients running z/VM Version 6 Release 3 or higher. Software pricing at less than full machine capacity can provide more flexibility and improved cost of computing as a client manages the volatility and growth of new workloads.Through the implementation of sub-capacity pricing for select z/VM programs, clients can pay for z/VM programs based on defined workload requirements and not necessarily the full engine capacity of the machine.

There are separate announcements for those new prcings at which I may come back later on.

Statements of Direction

  • Stabilization of z/VM V6.3 support:
    IBM z14 is planned to be the last z Systems server supported by z/VM V6.3 and the last z Systems server that will be supported when z/VM V6.3 is running as a guest (second level). z/VM V6.3 will continue to be supported until December 31, 2017, as announced in announcement letter # 915-025.
  • Future z/VM release guest support:
    z/VM V6.4 will be the last z/VM release supported as a guest of z/VM V6.2 or older releases.
  • Disk-only support for z/VM dumps:
    z/VM V6.4 will be the last z/VM release to support tape as a media option for stand-alone, hard abend, and snap dumps. Subsequent releases will support dumps to ECKD DASD or FCP SCSI disks only.
  • IBM z14 will be the last z Systems server to support FICON Express8S:
    IBM z14 will be last z Systems high-end server to support FICON Express8S (#0409 and #0410) channels. Enterprises should begin migrating from FICON Express8S channels to FICON Express16S+ channels (#0427 and #0428). FICON Express8S will not be supported on future high-end z Systems servers as carry forward on an upgrade.
  • IBM z14 will be the last z Systems server to support HCA3-O:
    IBM z14 will be last z Systems high-end server to support HCA3-O LR fanout for 1x IFB (#0170) and HCA3-O fanout for 12x IFB (#0171). Enterprises should begin migrating from HCA3-O channels to ICA SR and/or Coupling Express Long Range.
  • IBM z14 will be the last z Systems server to support zEDC:
    IBM z14 will be the last z Systems high-end server to support zEDC (#0420). In the future, z Systems high end server zEDC functionality will move from the zEDC adapter to the Central Processor (CP).
  • OSA-Express6S 1000BASE-T adapters:
    OSA-Express6S 1000BASE-T adapters (#0426) will be the last generation of OSA 1000BASE-T adapters to support connections operating at 100 Mb/second link speed. Future OSA-Express 1000BASE-T adapter generations will support operation only at 1000 Mb/second (1Gb/s) link speed.


There are some new and updated Redbooks available. They should all be grouped on a special page dedicated to z14 which is normally over here. Here's a short overview of a couple of them..
  • New – IBM z14 Technical Introduction, SG24-8450-00
  • New – IBM z14 Technical Guide, SG24-8451-00
  • New – IBM z14 Configuration Setup, SG24-8460-00
  • Updated – IBM z Systems Connectivity Handbook, SG24-5444-17
  • Updated – IBM z Systems Functional Matrix, REDP-5157-02
Of course you can also find all manuals in the Library section of Resource Link.

Key dates

Here's just a small selection of items and key dates.

July 17, 2017
  • Announcement day
  • First Day Orders for GA Systems
  • Resource Link support (e.g. Manuals available in Library section)

September 13, 2017
  • Features and functions for the IBM z14
  • GA for IBM z14 Models M01, M02, M03, M04 and M05
  • Upgrades from zEC12 and z13 models

December 15, 2017
  • z/VM Guest exploitation support for pause-less garbage collection
  • z/VM support for encrypted paging

December 31, 2017 :
  • MES features for Models M01, M02, M03, M04, and M05
  • IBM HMC Mobile for z Systems and LinuxONE
Well, that's about it for the moment, I'm planning some follow up posts and we'll also publish our Realdolmen z Systems eZine in the coming days.


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