Wednesday, April 18, 2018

New member of the family : z14 ZR1


Last week, April 10, 2018, IBM announced the new z14 Model ZR1 (ZG18-0024) and the Linux Rockhopper II (ZG18-0027). Same box, different purpose. I'm mainly going to give you an introduction to the z14 ZR1. By the way, it becomes GA on May 31, 2018.

As usual, I'll concentrate on the technical aspects of the announcement rather than focusing on the strategic importance of the platform. Lots of other sources will give you plenty of information about this. Take e.g. a look at this IBM page covering z14 and its relation with Cloud, Security, Analytics and DevOps.

I've put the z13s and the z14 ZR1 next to each other here, so that you can immediately see one of the big differences between the two. The z14 ZR1 is now a standard 19'' 42U rack. So it easily complies to the standard datacenter rack requirements.

The naming indicates that the z14 ZR1 is just another model of the z14, next to the already known models M01 up to M05. It also has the same driver level as the z14. This means this is already a stable level.

But let's get to the content of the announcement. I'll give you the usual survey of the new system starting with some technical specifications and there are also some novelties worth mentioning. Of course the Software Pricing is always an interesting part too. I'll conclude with Physical Planning, Some Caveats, Operating Systems Support and a couple of references to already available documentation. Here's an overview of the z14 ZR1.

Click on image for larger version

Also worth mentioning, there's no GA2 announcement for the two-frame z14 that was announced mid July 2017. This seems to be following for both later this year.

Technical specifications

The z14 ZR1 has machine type 3907. As I already mentioned : quite a different frame than its predecessors. it's air cooled and comes with top exit cabling, bottom exit cabling or even both if you would want that. Cabling means both power and I/O. There is only one model ZR1 as opposed to the two model (N10-N20) setup with the z13s.

I propose we immediately take a look under the covers to 'uncover' some significant differences between the z14 ZR1 and recent previous models.


You can see that the front view, unlike former models, doesn't really resemble the rear view. That's because we have a different type of I/O drawer, the PCIe+ I/O drawer. Cards can only be inserted at the rear side of the box. Not so visible, but surely as important is the CPC drawer. Since lots of choices for the configuration of the z14 ZR1 start with the CPC drawer, we should tackle that one first.

CPC drawer 

The CPC drawer has up to 4 PU Single Chip Modules (SCM's). I deliberately say 'up to' four because the system does NOT come with all four SCM's directly installed. Here's a first choice you have to make. How many CP's will you need and, on top of that, how many other configurable PU's will you need. 

You have a choice to make between four CPC drawer features that determine how many CP's, how many configurable PU's, how many PCIe+ I/O drawers and how much memory you will have at your disposal. Upgrades from one feature code (FC) to the other will be disruptive as the drawer has to be taken out to add another PU SCM. Here's an overview


When you choose FC0636 you only have 4CP's at your disposal, 1 PCIe+ I/O drawer, no extra configurable PU's and a maximum of 2TB of memory. At the other side of the spectrum with FC0639 you can have 6 CP's (which is still the maximum). You'll have 30 PU's at your disposal and can have up to four PCIe+ I/O drawers and up to 8TB of memory. So choose wisely when you order your z14 ZR1 since, once again, upgrades between the feature codes are disruptive.

But when you take a closer look at the table above, you see that there's another feature code mentioned : FC0617. This has, as you can see, especially an impact on the number of I/O drawers.

FC0617


Since we are using a standard 19'' rack, customer equipment can also be hosted in the space allocated through the 16U Reserved feature. Such as SAN switches, Network Switches, Rack mountable HMC and TKE, Storage devices . . .
Choosing for this 16U reserved space means that you cannot have a third or fourth PCIe+ I/O drawer in your z14 ZR1. Furthermore, it's a choice that, for the moment, cannot be undone. Once the FC0617 is on your system, even if you don't use the space, you will not be able to use this space afterwards for additional I/O drawers. So, once again, choose wisely !

Of course not just anything goes into that space. It has to follow some requirements. The most important are :
  • Fit within 19” rail-to-rail width, and 28 1/4”  (717 mm) front-to-rear depth.
  • Must employ front to rear airflow.
  • No more than 35 lbs. / 15.8 Kg) weight per EIA location.  (e.g. a 4U drawer can weigh no more than 140 lbs. 65.5 Kg.)

Capacity settings

As I already mentioned, the system comes with only one model, but with four important feature codes which are also referred to as Max4, Max12, Max24 and Max30. This indicates the maximum of configurable PU's. So in the maximum configuration, we have 10 more PU's at our disposal as compared to the z13s. However the number of maximum traditional CPs remains at 6 also ranging from A01 to Z06 giving us 156 capacity settings. The smallest model, the A01 has once again a higher capacity than its predecessor. On the zBC12 it was 50 mips, on the z13s it was 80 mips and the z14 ZR1 has a slight increase with 88 mips. It has now 11 MSUs but it keeps having the same zELC pricing. So the software price for the A01 remains the same as for the zBC12 A01 with its 6 MSUs or the z13s with its 10 MSUs. This may have an impact on people who are still running on a small zBC12 with less than 11 MSUs.

One single processor, and as you know all specialty engines are full processors, goes from 1430 mips to about 1570 mips.

Upgrades are also slightly different. Up to now we always saw upgrades from N-1 and N-2 generations, but this is no longer the case. You can only have in place upgrades from a z13s. From a zBC12 there's is a migration offering. This means, no longer an upgrade in place, but we kind of simulate an upgrade and a new z14 ZR1 machine is delivered instead. No parts are taken over from the old zBC12.

PCIe+ I/O drawer

As you can see the PCIe+ I/O drawer can only have cards on the rear of the system. This will also have to be taken into account during the physical planning when e.g. upgrading from a z13s.


You can have 16 cards per drawer and the number of drawers depends on your chosen feature code for the PU's. Here's an overview of which cards can be put into a PCIe+ I/O drawer.

Cards that can be carried forward during an upgrade (only from z13s)
  • FICON Express16S
  • FICON Express8S
  • OSA-Express5S
  • OSA-Express4S – all EXCEPT 1000Base-T
  • 10GbE RoCE Express (FC 0411)
  • zEDC Express
  • Crypto Express5S
  • Coupling Express LR

Cards that come with a 'new build'
  • FICON Express16S+ LX, SX
  • OSA-Express6S: 1 GbE (LX, SX), 10 GbE (LR, SR), and 1000BASE-T
  • 10GbE RoCE Express2
  • zEDC Express
  • Crypto Express6S
  • zHyperLink Express
  • Coupling Express LR 

    Some caveats

    What was still a statement of direction for the two frame z14 model in July last year, has already become reality on the z14 ZR1 : it no longer supports InfiniBand features. This means that replacements have to be in place. For the Infiniband 1x there are the new Coupling Express Long Reach I/O cards (FC0433). These are I/O cards that fit into the I/O drawer instead of the Infiniband fanouts on the CPC drawer. Unlike the z14 you cannot have both on the machine to make transition somewhat easier. This will be a challenge when going to z14 ZR1.

    Here's a list of some other features that are no longer available on the z14 ZR1 (also not through carry forward on an upgrade)
    • 1000 BaseT OSA-Express4S
    • HCA2/3-O 12x InfiniBand Coupling Links
    • HCA2/3-O LR 1x InfiniBand Coupling Links
    • Crypto Express4S
    • FICON Express8 (SX and LX)
    • I/O Drawer (No previous I/O Drawers)
    • Flash Express Adapter (replaced by Virtual Flash Memory)
    • IBM zAware Firmware Appliance

      Software pricing

      My story is pretty straightforward here. Similar to what happened with the z13s we don't see a new pricing mechanism but, again, a reduction to the AEWLC pricing.  As compared to the z13s, you will have a reduction of approximately 5%.

      This reduction does not apply to IPLA (OTC) softwares.

      As I already mentioned the A01 has an extra MSU but remains on zELC pricing. This means the price remains the same as on previous A01 models. Furthermore, I've done some calculations to be sure and if you're still running on a zBC12 B01 (59 mips - 7 MSU) up to an E01 (88 mips - 11 MSU), you must really have a look at your software pricing. The difference surely is more than just that 5% !

      Operating Systems

      z/OS
      • 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
      Be also aware that when you are on or getting to z/OS 2.3, you have to define all your LPARs with a minimum of 8GB of processor storage. 

      z/VM
      • z/VM V6.4 with PTFs
      z/VSE
      • 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 cannot IPL
      Linux
      • RHEL 7.3 with service update
      • RHEL 6.9 with service update
      • SLES 12 SP2 with service update
      • SLES 11 SP4 with service update
      • Ubuntu 16.04 LTS
      • Ubuntu 17.10 (supported until Jul 2018)
      KVM
      • KVM hypervisor offered with the Linux distributions: SLES12 SP2 or higher, and Ubuntu 16.04 LTS or higher

      Physical planning

      Since we have a different footprint ànd since we have to fit into the 'normal' datacenter standards, there are some attention points here. The dimensions and also the weight are different.


      You now  only need one cutout in the rear and there's just single-phase power. Some more info on this

      • Line cords are connected to internal PDUs
      • Two or four line cords per system
        • 2 cords for systems with 0 or 1 PCIe+ I/O drawers
        • 4 cords for systems with 2 to 4 PCIe+ I/O drawers
      • Clients will now be shipped a plug and cord for each power feature 

      And mind you, here's some features that are no longer available
      • 3-phase Power
      • Internal Battery Feature (IBF)
      • EPO Switch 
      • HVDC Power 
      • 480v AC
      • AC only - No DC power.
      And as usual I can only say, for the physical planning, the Installation Manual for Physical Planning is your best friend.

      Documentation

      You should find all manuals in the library section on Resource Link. But I have the impression that a lot are still missing for the moment. But the Installation Manual is already there.

      In the Redbooks section, for the moment I only find the IBM z14 ZR1 Technical Introduction but more should follow.

      As usual, I could only scratch the surface and touch upon the highlights of this new system.
      There's much more to discover about it. And along with this announcement, there was one particular announcement that, of course, caught our attention : the End Of Support Dates for the z13 and z13s/ But I'll cover this in another post.

      So I can only say : Stay Tuned !

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