Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Europe : 15% increase on all IBM System Storage hardware products

I overlooked this one as it was announced last Thursday instead of the regular Tuesday announcements. Perhaps Friday 13 would've been a better date for this announcement : 'Price changes: IBM System Storage hardware products (ZA15-1104)'. It's a short one, so I can keep it short too as I have no additional information about it either.
"IBM announces a 15% increase on all IBM System Storage hardware products."
This is applicable to Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Germany, Denmark, Spain, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Slovenia, Slovakia and effective as of February 12, 2015.
For the UK it is only 10%.

I haven't found a similar announcement for other parts of the world so I guess it has mainly to do with the dollar - euro rate.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Upcoming events

Here's a selection of upcoming events that might be of interest to you

BeNeLux : March 30 2015 - IBM z13 Technical Workshop

"The course participant will learn how to exploit the IBM z13 hardware and software infrastructure to effectively run modern mainframe workloads/solutions. The 1-day workshop will provide a detailed description of the new features and functions of the z13 and the IBM z Systems BladeCenter Extension (zBX) Model 004, thereby enabling clients, BPs, and IBMers to plan, implement, and operate the system environment in an expedited manner."
I already mentioned this workshop, so you can find the contents over there, but I wasn't aware there was a session held in Amsterdam as well. The price is 600€ but these sessions are usually well worth their money. You can enroll over here.

EMEA : May 18-22, 2015 - System z Technical University

The System z Technical University is taking place in Dublin for EMEA. You can find all information about attending, agenda, registration etc. over here. There's an early bird reduction until April 3, 2015. There's also an extra reduction code when you're a GSE member. While registering, check the box “I have received an IBM rep code” on the tab “Track info & activities” and fill in the code you received together with the GSE invitation.

Belgium: March 9, 2015 - Get More from your Storage, the new Era
at DOLCE La Hulpe (afternoon event with lunch)
"In order to help you get more from your Storage we will present several solutions around Software Defined Storage(SDS), FlashSystem, VersaStack and Tivoli
We will demonstrate
Info and registration over here.

(GSE) Meetings in Belgium

March 3, 2015 - GSE Architecture Working Group about 'Business Analytics'
IBM Client Center in Brussels
You can find the agenda as well as register over here. "Business Analytics is “The systematic leverage of cross functional business information and the resulting optimization of business decisions and processes”. It is one of the five big ICT paradigms (Cloud, Analytics, Mobile, Security, and Social Media) that many organizations are exploring and adopting as part of their business strategy, in order to stay competitive or even in order to survive!"


March 26, 2015 - GSE DB2 Working Group meeting
Volvo Gent
You can register over here. The agenda covers SYSLGRNX - From Darkness to Light, Autonomic Utility Processing for DBA Maintenance Activities, Discussion panel on Utility database maintenance operations. And if you can spare the time in the morning, you're in for a real treat as Volvo Gent invites you for a guided tour in the Truck assembly Factory !

Online events

February 18, 2015 - z/VM Live virtual class at 5:00PM Brussels Time
How z/VM Live Guest Relocation is used by GDPS - Introduction and Demo

"With z/VM 6.2, z/VM supports Single System Image (SSI) and Live Guest Relocation (LGR). With GDPS 3.10, GDPS can handle and control such setups. The presentation covers:
  • a short introduction to LGR, GDPS and xDR
  • GDPS maintenance scenarios which make use of LGR
  • introduction to LGR concepts and how GDPS can control LGR
  • a short demo
  • best practices"
You can find all info and a registration link over here.

February 24, 2015 - z/VSE Live virtual class at 5:00PM Brussels Time
Mobile access to the existing z/VSE application

"The first z/VSE webcast in 2015 will demonstrate how to create a mobile application with access to existing applications running under z/VSE. We will start with a short overview of the IBM MobileFirst practice, followed by the necessary tools and knowledge to start mobile development for z/VSE and the step-by-step process of creating mobile applications. "

You can find all info and a registration link over here.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Security Bulletin: GNU C library (glibc) vulnerability affects DS8000 and XIV

IBM issued some security bulletins referring to all models of the DS8000 and the Gen2 and Gen3 of the XIV.

In general, here's what it's about :

"Summary

GNU C library (glibc) vulnerability that has been referred to as GHOST affects DS8000

Description: 

The gethostbyname functions of the GNU C Library (glibc) are vulnerable to a buffer overflow. By sending a specially crafted, but valid hostname argument, a remote attacker could overflow a buffer and execute arbitrary code on the system with the privileges of the targeted process or cause the process to crash. The impact of an attack depends on the implementation details of the targeted application or operating system. This issue is being referred to as the "Ghost" vulnerability."

For more information and fixes, please refer to the appropriate flashes.
For DS8000 : link.
For XIV Gen2 : link.
For XIV Gen3 : link.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Redbook : IBM z13 Configuration Setup

When introducing the new IBM z13 I also listed out some documentation including some redbooks. At that time one of them, the Configuration Setup redbook, wasn't available yet. You can now download a first draft from the 'deploy' section of the page specifically dedicated to IBM z13 I also mentioned previously.

The abstract of the Redbook :
"This IBM® Redbooks® publication helps you install, configure, and maintain the IBM z13. The z13 offers new functions that require a comprehensive understanding of the available configuration options. This book presents configuration setup scenarios, and describes implementation examples in detail.

This publication is intended for systems engineers, hardware planners, and anyone who needs to understand IBM z Systems configuration and implementation".
The table of contents :
Chapter 1. Introducing the IBM z13
Chapter 2. Channel subsystem
Chapter 3. Configuration planning
Chapter 4. Upgrading from an IBM zEC12 to IBM z13
Chapter 5. Replacing an IBM zEC12 with IBM z13
Chapter 6. Installing a new IBM z13
Chapter 7. Installing an extra IBM z13
Chapter 8. Server Time Protocol (STP)
Chapter 9. Crypto Express5S and Crypto Express4S configuration
Chapter 10. Logical partitions
Chapter 11. Preparing IBM z13 for zBX Model 004
Chapter 12. Flash Express
Chapter 13. Configure Open System Adaptor (OSA) and RoCE Express
Appendix A. Additional features and functions
I don't think it needs any more recommendations. If you're going to install a new IBM z13, this is a good place to start.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Webcast : Bob Rogers on Simultaneous Multithreading (SMT)

I'm not exactly sure anymore how I came across this webcast from Bob Rogers, but it's definitely worth mentioning it. It's on the zExchange page of the New Era site. I didn't know New Era but apparantly its "an industry leader in the repair, recovery, data erasure and integrity of z/OS systems".

If you want to know each and every detail on how SMT works and how it's implemented on the new IBM z13, the advantages and disadvantages of it and you don't mind to spend an hour of your time listening to the flamboyant Bob Rogers style, we all know, then just go over here. I, for one, certainly don't. I'm not pretending I understand every detail of it, but I got a pretty good picture of what it's about and what it means for your z shop.

Have a look at the rest of the page as well. I see there are two lectures from Marna Walle on 'Migrating to V2R1 with "look ahead" information on V2R2' on March 10 and March 12.

So, definitely worth a little visit if you want to grasp the value of SMT for the IBM z13.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

IBM XIV Storage System support for vSphere Virtual Volumes (VVOL)

I already told you some time ago that my action radius has become a bit larger than just mainframe. So, as a technical presales I'm also covering the entire IBM System Storage spectrum. Hey, we're not that big ! Of course, I'm mainly focusing on the high end market and so XIV and e.g. Flash are likely candidates to have my full attention.

So, about a week ago I wrote about a new XIV announcement and about the support for vSphere Virtual Volumes (VVOL). And now here's a video by IBM Redbooks specifically about this. If you're even slightly interested, have a look. It not only shows the ease of use of the XIV but also what VVOLs are and how they are supported by XIV.



And as I told you last time, at RealDolmen we will have a firm focus on XIV in the coming months. So, stay tuned for more communications, news and events from our part in the near future . . .

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

z Systems Software withdrawals

It's still some getting used to : z Systems instead of System z but we'll get used to it. Yesterday IBM announced some End of Service dates for z Systems software : 'Software withdrawal and support discontinuance: IBM z Systems platform selected products (ZP15-0054)'.

I guess you'd best browse through the list to see whether any of your software products are still present. Some of the softwares get no replacement.

I just want to point out one : z/VM 6.3 (5741-A07) will be be withdrawn from service on December 31, 2017. This is good news, I guess, since it's more than half a year later than what was first communicated. The z/VM End of Service Chart still mentions April 30, 2017. Obviously, no replacement is mentioned for the moment.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

DS8800 expansion frame withdrawn from marketing

Today IBM announces the withdrawal from marketing of the expansion frame of the DS8800 : 'Hardware withdrawal: IBM System Storage DS8800 Expansion Unit Model 95E and select features - Some replacements available (ZG15-0056)'.

If you still want to order any expansion frames or most of the other features still available on the DS8800, then do it before September 16, 2015. You still have some time left and of course you can always move on to the next generation : the DS8870. But keep in mind you cannot add a DS8870 expansion frame to a DS8800 base unit.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

XIV - 6TB drives and VMWare Virtual Volumes

Yesterday, IBM made two announcements about XIV. There's a hardware announcement 'IBM XIV Storage System Gen3 Model 214 with software version 11.5.1 delivers support for 6 TB self-encrypted drives (ZG15-0037)' and a software announcement : 'IBM XIV Storage System Gen3 and IBM XIV Cloud Storage for Service Providers V11.5.1 deliver support for 6 TB self-encrypted drives and VMware Virtual Volumes (ZP15-0091).

It's been a while since I wrote about XIV, but I'm going to try and pick up the pace here as well. If there's one product acquisition IBM hit the bull's eye with then, to me, it was definitely XIV. I still find this a marvellous product. Just to give you a couple of examples : the data are spread alike over all disks making tiering absolutely superfluous. And this without having to do any concessions with regards to performance. Another example : there's quite some talk about rebuild times in Raid configurations especially when we each time get larger disks. Well did you know that XIV never had this problem and even with the new 6TB drives it achieves an average rebuild time of under the hour for a 6TB disk.

What's new today ? Well, as I already mentioned : XIV now supports 6TB disks. This gives us a maximum capacity of 485TB as compared to 325TB with the 4TB disks. However performance levels are sustained with these larger disks.
Next to that XIV now also has the Energy Star certification. You can find more information about Energy Star over here. If you're interested in the XIV data, go over here, click on 'filter' and add a filter with 'Model name' equals 'XIV'.
Another important item is built-in XIV support for VMware vSphere Virtual Volumes (VVOL). "VVOL are designed to enable upcoming VMware vSphere environments to easily automate XIV provisioning, offload snapshots and cloning, and instantly reclaim space, all at the virtual-machine level. Systems will benefit from XIV hotspot-free performance predictability and extreme capacity utilization, delivered efficiently through the IBM Storage Integration Server". As 70% of XIV customers are Vmware users this can have a great impact on most of the XIV customers.
For more information, here's a solution overview to VMWare's Virtual Volumes.

Planned availability is February 12, 2015.

By the way, if you're interested in XIV and you want to find out what RealDolmen can do for you in this area, be sure to come back here regularly. There's definitely more to follow about XIV in the coming weeks, months . . .

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

IBM z13 Technical IBM Redbooks Workshop

Here's a promising 1-day workshop from Redbooks, introducing nearly every technical aspect of the new IBM z13.

The workshop objectives
"The course participant will learn how to exploit the IBM z13 hardware and software infrastructure to effectively run modern mainframe workloads/solutions. The 1-day workshop will provide a detailed description of the new features and functions of the z13 and the IBM z Systems BladeCenter Extension (zBX) Model 004, thereby enabling clients, BPs, and IBMers to plan, implement, and operate the system environment in an expedited manner."
Here's a list of the main topics, but go to the workshop page itself for the full agenda.
Overview of the z13
z13 technical details
zBX Model 004
Software : Operating Systems support
z13 environmentals
z13 connectivity
HMC/SE
STP enhancements
Planning and implementation considerations
Installation and migration
Physical Planning
Statements of Direction
There's a worldwide coverage of the workshop and of course I'm looking for places near to Belgium and I think the most obvious choices would be London on Monday February 23, 2015 or Paris on Friday February 27, 2015. In Paris the workshop is given in French. The fees are 500£ for London and 600€ for Paris.

Monday, January 26, 2015

RealDolmen System z e-zine 22

The 22nd issue of our RealDolmen System z Newsletter was sent out yesterday. You can download it over here. Just like the last times, there's just an English version. No more Dutch or French versions. Most of it has already been posted over here too.

The content ? Here's the introduction that was sent along :
The year has only just begun and IBM already surprises us with an early announcement of a new high-end mainframe : the IBM z13.

IBM comes with some bold statements regarding its intentions with the IBM z13. It's intended to become the world's premier data and transaction engine enabled for the mobile generation, the integrated transaction and analytics system for right-time insights at the point of impact and the world's most efficient and trusted cloud system that transforms the economics of IT. Or as someone summarized it : IBM launches a new mainframe . . . for Smartphones. You can read all details in this newsletter.

Next to this main topic of our newsletter, we also present you an overview of last year and we'll shed some light on some of the announcements that accompanied the IBM z13 announcement like e.g. the preview announcement of z/OS 2.2.

Finally, we still have our usual entries with recent announcements, interesting blog entries, EOS dates and some hints and tips.

Enjoy the reading !

Friday, January 23, 2015

Preview of z/OS 2.2

z/OS 2.2 is due to become available in September 2015. But here’s already a preview announcement :
‘Preview: IBM z/OS Version 2 Release 2 -- Fueling the new digital enterprise (ZP15-0006)’. It’s too much to sum it all up but let me quote you the highlights from the announcement itself :

"This z/OS V2.2 Preview announcement describes many capabilities designed to support:

  • Exceptional service levels with:
    • Simultaneous multithreading on zIIP specialty engines on z13 processors for higher overall throughput
    • Up to 141 configurable processors or up to 128 processors per LPAR on z13 processors when running in SMT mode
    • Improved autonomics for health-based workload routing in a Parallel Sysplex® with new z/OS Workload Manager (WLM) and XCF functions to help improve availability
  • Analytics enablement with information management, storage, and delivery capabilities:
    • Support for up to 4 TB of RAIM memory per LPAR to improve performance of IBM DB2® and other data-intensive processing workloads
    • Fabric I/O Priority, extending Workload Management into the SAN fabric to prioritize your most important workloads and help improve service levels
    • 16 Gb FICON® links to help reduce I/O latency
    • A new IBM zHyperWrite™ capability that helps you achieve better DB2 log write performance when using Metro Mirror (PPRC) in a HyperSwap-managed environment
  • A trusted and resilient system of record:
    • Faster data encryption to handle increased transaction volume with both a new Crypto Express5S cryptographic adapter and improved compressor-based, on-chip cryptography
    • Digitally signed SMF records designed to provide a trusted audit repository
    • Improvements to secure communications, additional support for ciphers, RACF® enhancements, and more
  • Capturing the potential of the mobile enterprise:
    • System SSL's new OCSP support is designed to help reduce risk and improve the security of mobile and other transactions by checking certificate revocation status over the network.
    • Mobile Workload Pricing programs help you reduce software costs during periods of peak mobile transaction workload processing.
    • The z/OS Connect software interface between mobile and backend systems is designed to help you easily integrate your z/OS systems into your mobile computing environment.
The z13 server with z/OS V2.2 enables a new tier of innovation that can catalyze your ability to reach new markets and capture new revenue opportunities".

There is also some news about z/OSMF : “Starting with z/OS V2.2, z/OSMF, previously a separate product, is planned to become a base element of z/OS, delivered with the operating system. This will remove the need to order z/OSMF separately”.

While I'm at it, I think this post on Marna Walle's blog might also be of interest to you : 'z/OS V2.2 FIXCATs are starting to appear'.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

IBM Enterprise COBOL Developer Trial for z/OS

Next to the announcement of Enterprise Cobol V5.2, there was also an announcement last week of a Developer Trial version : ‘IBM Enterprise COBOL for z/OS, V5.2 delivers support for the latest IBM z13 processor architecture (ZP15-0007).
I think the conditions speak for themselves if you want to try this version : “IBM Enterprise COBOL Developer Trial for z/OS, V5, an evaluation edition of Enterprise COBOL for z/OS, is no charge and does not initiate a Single Version Charging (SVC) period.” This is nice, of course. Because you really get the “full set of Enterprise COBOL compiler features and functions. This includes the code generation and optimization technology in Version 5”.
The limitations are that it has an expiry date and that you are only permitted to use it in a non production environment.
Enterprise COBOL Developer Trial for z/OS, V5 is available from IBM through ShopzSeries as a standard offering and is available from March 27, 2015. It requires at least z/OS 1.13 or later. It does not require the IBM z13, it runs on previous models too going back as far as the z890.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Compiler announcements along with the IBM z13

On January 14, 2015, along with the announcement of the new IBM z13, there were also announcements of some new compilers. I give you the links where you can find all the announcement details
  • IBM Enterprise COBOL for z/OS, V5.2 delivers support for the latest IBM z13 processor architecture (ZP15-0034)
  • It’s all about the new functionalities I talked about in my previous post on the new IBM z13. IBM gives us the following comment about this new Cobol compiler : “Enterprise COBOL for z/OS V5.2 provides Day1 support for the new z13 processor, using the new Vector Facility for certain COBOL statements, and expanding the use of Decimal Floating Point Facility for Packed Decimal calculations. Enterprise COBOL V5.2 provides significant performance improvements over the GA release of Enterprise COBOL V5.1. “ 
  • IBM Enterprise PL/I for z/OS, V4.5 offers new function and improved performance (ZP15-0015)
  • The comment for PL/I is almost identical : “Enterprise PL/I for z/OS V4.5 is enhanced to fully exploit the new z13 architecture. It uses the new Vector Facility to improve code for certain functions and expands the use of Decimal Floating Point Facility for Packed Decimal calculations. Enterprise PL/I for z/OS V4.5 provides significant performance improvements over Enterprise PL/I V4.4.” 
  • New, high-performance IBM XL C/C++ for Linux on z Systems, V1.1 compiler now delivered for Linux on z Systems (ZP15-0005)
    “This is a brand new C/C++ product designed to improve the performance of applications running on Linux on z Systems. XL C/C++ for Linux on z Systems V1.1 runs on RHEL (6 and 7); and SLES (11 and 12). It is based on brand new technologies. This new compiler is built on Clang and advanced IBM optimization framework shipped in IBM Java and Enterprise COBOL V5. This combination not only provides easy migration of C/C++ applications from distributed Linux systems to Linux on z Systems, it also optimizes the performance of applications on IBM z Systems, latest z13.”
The new Vector facility that is mentioned each time is the new SIMD function. There should be a RedPiece about it over here, but for some or other reason I just can't seem to download it. But there's also some information about it in the new Redbook IBM z13 Technical Guide.

The General Availability is even earlier than the new IBM z13 : February 27, 2015 for the COBOL and PL/I compilers and February 16, 2015 for the C/C++ compiler.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

z13 - The New Generation of IBM z Systems

General Introduction

Today, January 14, 2015 IBM announced its new generation of the mainframe. The announcement has a really short title 'The IBM z13 (ZG15-0001)'. I know I should give you some marketing talk on CAMS and stuff but I think I'll just concentrate on the technical aspects. And I'm pretty sure that's exactly why you came here for. The new system is simply called IBM z13. Let’s have a look at the name. No more zEC, just plain ‘z’ with a number. And yes, after version 12 comes version 13. So we have our new IBM z13. Looking at the specifications below, this might just be our lucky number ;-) Furthermore we do not longer talk about IBM System z, this has now become IBM z Systems. The model is 2964 and not perhaps the expected 2837. The looks – particulary of the back - have changed in order to gain in functionality. But I’ll come back to that later on.

When we want to summarize the new z13 in a few words, I’d say : a lot, and I mean, A LOT more memory and, for the first time,  the absence of books. Everything has become drawers now. And allthough this might be new for the Enterprise customers, the Business Class customers are already familiar with the concept for some time now. On the BC level, with the drawers came also the Single Chip Modules (SCMs) instead of the Multi Chip Modules (MCMs). Well, it’s no different to the new generation that’s announced now. And of course, we’re curious why IBM dropped the ‘EC’ in the name. Will we fall back to just one model ? Perhaps, instead of a ‘BC’ model, we’ll just have a GA2 announcement later this year with a one frame, one drawer model and more subcapacity settings for that first drawer. But let’s not speculate on the future and let’s have a look at the model that’s been announced just now.

Overview


Here's an overview of the most important new functions and/or improvements divided into three categories. I don't know about you but my eyes aren't getting any better, so you know you can always click on the images for a larger version.


Let's tackle some of the highlights now.

Models and sub-capacity settings

Similar to the zEC12 the new system has four regular models and one large sized model : N30, N63, N96, NC9 and NE1 (the ‘C’ an ‘E’ being hexadecimal representations so that they have 129 and 141 engines. For the regular models, every drawer has 39 PUs and with the NE1 each drawer has 42 PUs.
There are 2 spares designated per system. We see 6 SAPs per book. So if we take e.g. the N30 with 39 PUs, we subtract the 6 SAPs and the 2 spare processors, that leaves us with 31 PUs. Each system also has 1 IFP. And so we reach our 30 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 z13. You may notice the zAAPs are gone. The z13 is indeed the first system that doesn't support them any more. But as you know, since the z12 we have a 2 to 1 ratio for the zIIPs.


A full processor (the 701 or a specialty engine) has a capacity of 1.695 mips as opposed to 1.514 on the zEC 12. We have again three sub-capacity levels (4-, 5, -6) now for up to 30 CPs.

Memory memory memory

In general we have the same RAIM Memory design as introduced on the z196. But, as I mentioned already, the amount of memory in the system has hugely increased. For the zEC12 the system minimum was 32 GB and went up to 768 GB per book and up to 3 TB for the entire system. Now we see the following picture :


We start at a minimum of 64GB and go already up to an amount of 2.5TB per drawer. There is quite a simple message behind this : the more you can store in memory, the faster your system will operate. Think e.g. about In-Memory Databases where you can have a significant reduction in response time by avoiding I/O waits.
And the good news about this is that memory has become a lot cheaper on the IBM z13. Look at it as with the MSUs on the MLC pricing : the more you buy, the cheaper it becomes.

Processor Speed

There is a slight reduction to the processor speed from 5.5GHz to 5.0GHz. On the one hand this is simply due to environmental considerations like heat generation and power consumption. As we all know there's a limit to this. On the other hand IBM has tackled this with an improved cache structure, the increase of memory and some new functionalities. Eventually this leads to a more powerful processor than we had on the z12 EC.


Here’s a comparison between the zEC12 and the IBM z13 cache. Mind you, for the z13, you only see half of one CPC drawer node.

I won't go into further detail here, but just one example : if the workload was slow due to a high number of cache misses, it's surely expected to run better on the z13.

Upgrades

In short you can upgrade from any z12 EC and z196 to an IBM z13.

Under the covers

But let’s have a closer look at the changes under the covers. Here’s a picture of how an air cooled model looks like on the inside.

Drawers and SCMs

The zEC12 and previous models all used to have Multi Chip Modules (MCMs) with a number of PUs (Processor Units) and SCs (Storage Control) chips. Each PU chip had 4, 5 or 6 cores active. For the zEC12 this meant 27 active processors per MCM on the regular models.


As you can see on the picture, the z13 has four drawers. The z13 N30 has one drawer and let’s have a closer look at such a drawer.

Here we have a top view of the drawer : as a matter of fact we have 8 Single Chip Modules (SCMs) in one drawer. There are two SC SCMs and there are six PU SCMs. These are 8 core chips with 6. 7 or 8 cores active. That way, we get the 39 active processor units per drawer for the regular models. The reason for this evolution : cooling is definitely one of them. The possibility perhaps to consolidate to one single model instead of an EC and a BC model ?

While we have the under the covers picture still in sight : the Support Elements are no longer notepads but have become 1U System x Servers. And we just have display and keyboard where the support elements used to be. And while I’m at it : the HMC comes in two flavours : it’s a mini tower (FC0092) or else there’s also a 1U rack mounted option (FC0094). As a matter of fact, it then is the same x3550 M4 server as the support elements.

More new features

Simultaneous Multi Threading (SMT)

Simultaneous multithreading allows instructions from more than one thread to execute in any given pipeline stage at a time, helping to improve overall throughput. This will be enabled on IFLs and zIIPs only. The goal is to boost performance for Linux, Java, and zIIP workloads.

Up to two active execution threads per core can dynamically share the caches, TLBs and execution resources of each IFL and zIIP core. SMT is designed to improve both core capacity and single thread performance significantly. 
  • Simultaneous multithreading allows instructions from more than one thread to execute in any given pipeline stage at a time
  • When the SMT is not enabled, a core executes  a single Hardware Thread
  • When the SMT facility is enabled, the Hardware Threads within a core share certain hardware resources such as execution units and caches
  • When one Hardware Thread in a core is waiting for other hardware resources (typically, while waiting for a storage access), second Hardware Thread in the core can utilize the shared resources in the core rather than remain idle
  • SMT helps address memory latency, resulting in overall throughput gains
Single Instruction Multiple Data (SIMD)

SIMD (Single Instruction Multiple Data) provides instruction level parallelism to aid in the performance of complex database operations and provides the ability for a single instruction stream to processmultiple data streams simultaneously rather than one at a time. I gather the illustration below clearly shows the benefit of SIMD.


Another way to demonstrate what is happening is shown in the next illustration


SIMD (Single Instruction Multiple Data)  represents a vector  processing model providing instruction level parallelism.  It provides much needed extensions to aid in the performance of complex database operations and provides the ability for a single instruction stream to process multiple data streams simultaneously rather than one at a time  SIMD can enable applications to scan billions of rows of data per second  This helps accelerate  response times significantly

Workloads that may benefit from Data Parallelism (SIMD)
  • High Data Intensity (i.e. data volume)
  • High Compute Intensity (i.e. operations on a given byte of data)
  • Predictive IT analytics, Advanced Security/Crypto, BI reporting, Prescriptive Analytics, Next-Gen Data Warehousing
Here’s a couple of compilers that will be able to exploit SIMD from the beginning : IBM Java, Enterprise COBOL and Enterprise PL/I.

IBM zAware
IBM zAware improves quite a bit with several new functions like heat maps, improved sorting filtering and tree tables.  This allows you to see more information at once with less scrolling. The most important feature however that is added to IBM zAware is the support for Linux on System z.

Connectivity

The IBM z13 offers a new generation of PCIe Gen3 I/O drawers. This also means the internal bus interconnect speed goes up from 8GBps for PCIe Gen2 to 16GBps for PCIe Gen3. A newly configured system can only contain these new drawers.



Older InfiniBand and PCIe Gen2 drawers can be carried forward, allthough there are specific rules how many of them can be carried forward.


I guess the colours give a pretty good impression of what’s going on here.

Mind that the FICON Express16S card only auto-ngotiates downwards to 4Gb. That’s why FICON Express8S is still available in the new build, but there's an SOD that mentions : IBM plans not to support FICON Express8 on the nex high-end System z server !

The new part for the RoCE card is that the 2 ports are supported now and that it can now support up to 31 logical partitions.

Physical planning

For the physical planning, nothing much has changed. The replacement of the books by drawers does not have any significant impact on the weight of the z13. However there have been made quite some efforts to get better control of energy usage.  IBM has upgraded cooling systems compared to zEC12 with N+2 pumps and blowers. And you know, I mentioned at the beginning that the look and design of the machine had somewhat changed. This was done for the same reason. The zEC12was always blowing its hot air in the same direction. The rear cover has now been redesigned so that you can now control the front to rear airflow. The rear door is designed to allow air flow upwards or rather downwards.

Oh, and by the way, the doors of the z13 can now be locked as well. All 4 doors (front/rear) will arrive with the lock installed. It comes as a standard feature on every z13.It's your choice to use it or not. If locks are used, customer is responsible to open doors for service.



Operating systems support

z/OS Support Plan :
  • z/OS V2.1 with PTFs (Exploitation)
  • z/OS V1.13 with PTFs (Limited Exploitation)
  • z/OS V1.12 with PTFs (End of service support 9/30/2014.)
z/VM Support Plan :
  • z/VM V6.3 with PTFs – Exploitation support
  • z/VM V6.2 with PTFs – Compatibility plus Crypto Express5S support
  • Note: z/VM 5.4 – NOT Compatible even though still in service
z/VSE Support Plan:
  • z/VSE V5.2 with PTFs -  Compatibility plus Crypto Express5S (up to 85 LPARs)
  • z/VSE V5.1 with PTFs – Compatibility
Linux for System z Support Plan : 
  • SUSE SLES 11 (Later releases:  GA support TBD by SUSE.
  • Red Hat RHEL 6 (Later releases: GA support TBD by Red Hat.)

zBX and hybrid computing

I think I can be quite short about the zBX. It can now be placed a bit further from the zSystem itself and it has its own HMC. So, far the good news. The 'other' news : you can still upgrade a Model 002 or a Model 003 to a Model 004 but you are not able to buy a new Model 004. Thsi is what IBM so elegantly calls 'investment protection'. If you have invested in a zBX you can keep it and you can upgrade it. But that's it. Sounds to me like IBM is phasing out its zBX project . . .

Software and maintenance 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 zEC12.

It’s also clear that mobile workload pricing is becoming a very interesting pricing model. I'm not going to elaborate on this again as I treated this already in some previous posts.

Next to the software pricing, there’s also the usual reduction of 2% on the hardware maintenance.

Statements of Direction

Removal of support for auto-negotiation to 2Gbps (FICON Express8S):  IBM z13 EC will be the last high-end server to support FICON Express8S and will be the last high end server to offer ordering of FICON Express8S. FICON Express 8S will not be supported on future high end z Systems servers as carry forward on an upgrade.

Stabilization of z/VM V6.2 support:  The IBM z13 server family is planned to be the last z Systems server supported by z/VM V6.2 and the last z systems server that will be supported where z/VM V6.2 is running as a guest (second level). This is in conjunction with the statement of direction that the IBM z13 server family will be the last to support ESA/390 architecture mode, which z/VM V6.2 requires. z/VM V6.2 will continue to be supported until December 31, 2016.

Product Delivery of z/VM on DVD/Electronic only:   z/VM 6.3 will be the last release of z/VM that will be available on tape.   Subsequent releases will be available on DVD or electronically.

z/VM support for Single Instruction Multiple Data (SIMD): In a future deliverable IBM intends to deliver support to enable z/VM guests to exploit the Vector Facility for z/Architecture (SIMD).

IBM intends to deliver a GDPS/Peer to Peer Remote Copy (GDPS/PPRC) multiplatform resiliency capability for customers who do not run the z/OS operating system in their environment. This solution is intended to provide IBM z Systems customers who run z/VM and their associated guests, for instance, Linux on z Systems, with similar high availability and disaster recovery benefits to those who run on z/OS.

And here’s a really, should I say, surprising one. Or perhaps not.
KVM offering for IBM z Systems: In addition to the continued investment in z/VM, IBM intends to support a Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM) offering for z Systems that will host Linux on z Systems guest virtual machines.

So, this means that KVM will be on the same level as z/VM but will only support Linux images. This is perhaps a smart move from IBM : it will reduce cost as well as learning curve to port Intel workloads to the z Systems platform. This is definitely one to keep an eye on.

Documentation


Redbooks
There are some new and updated Redbooks available. They should all be grouped on a special page dedicated to z13 which is normally over here. Here's a short overview of a couple of them..

  • New – IBM zNext Technical Introduction, SG24-8250
  • New – IBM zNext Technical Guide, SG24-8251
  • New – zNext Configuration Setup, SG24-8260
  • Updated - IBM System z Connectivity Handbook, SG24-5444
  • Updated – IBM System z Functional Matrix, REDP-5157-00
Of course you can also find manuals and stuff in the Library section of Resource Link.
I'll surely come back to the documentation and reference materials in a future post.

Key Dates

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

January 14, 2015 :
  • Announcement day
  • First Day Orders for GA Systems
  • Resource Link support (e.g. Manuals available in Library section)

March 9, 2015 :
  • Features and functions for the IBM z13
  • GA for IBM z13 Models N30, N63, N96, NC9, and NE1
  • Upgrades from z196 and zEC12 models

March 13, 2015
  • z/VM V6.3 exploitation support for Simultaneous multithreading (SMT)

June 26, 2015 :
  • MES features for IBM z13 Models N30, N63, N96, NC9, and NE1
  • z/VM V6.3 support for Multi-VSwitch Link Aggregation
  • Support for 256 Coupling CHPIDs
  • IBM zAware support for Linux on z systems
Let me just finish this with two videos. The people of Redbooks give us a short summary on Youtube of 7 highlights of the new z13.



And if you got through all this, here's a last one, delivering the message to you on a somewhat lighter tone.



Or, hang on, this wasn't the only announcement today, so come back to check for more . . .