Wednesday, January 14, 2015

IBM z13: Redefining the Mainframe

 By Rich Ptak

After celebrating 50-years of mainframe success, IBM was not about to rest on its laurels. Rather, it was time to shake up the market! This is exactly what they are doing with the launch of IBM z13, the high-end of a new generation of mainframes!  A brand-new chip design, more features, expanded memory, greatly increased cache and more open than ever, IBM z13 is full of good news.

There are too many changes in this latest incarnation of the mainframe to cover in detail. We offer a few nuggets to show what drives the demand for mainframe computing and what IBM z13 delivers. Mainframe innovation continues unabated with over 7,000 mainframe-related patents since 1964, with more than 500 issued last year.

Its success spans multiple workload types. Workloads include transaction processing, data serving, and mixed workload processing. It delivers leading-edge operational efficiency, sets the standard for performance in trusted and secure[1] computing, remains legendary in reliability, availability and resiliency[2] – delivered in a package with virtually limitless scalability.

These continue, but computing has changed. New workloads and increasing sophistication in the ways of using/accessing technology emerged. Today’s users and applications demand specialized capabilities in a platform designed for and able to provide:
  • World-class data and transaction handling specifically for a mobile generation;
  • Integrated transaction and analytics for right-time insights at the point of impact and optimal application;
  • An efficient and trusted cloud that transforms and improves IT economics.

IBM z13 is designed from the ground up to support these tasks.

IBM designed capabilities into IBM z13 to optimize cloud support in all implementations, enhance its big data & analytics processing capabilities, expand support for enterprise mobile applications and build on existing world-class security. These define and drive the next generation of computing. The full impact of IBM z13 features, capabilities and functions will be analyzed over the coming months. Here are a few of the highlights we know today.

Real-time analysis reduces the time to get actionable insight and information from very large datasets. Linux, Java and zIIP workloads perform faster thus reducing the number of systems required and improving economics. Users get real-time reporting as analytics workloads run faster with accelerated processing. More data can be kept on-line and accessible for analysis with advanced accelerated data compression further reducing storage costs.

Linux developers and architects benefit from enterprise grade Linux with access to previously z/OS-exclusive functionality, such as IBM zAware, for real time device management, IBM GPFS (announced earlier) and with  plans for future delivery of the GDPS virtual appliance.

A new, uniquely designed 8 core-processor chip lies at the heart of the IBM z13. The system has a modular, drawer-based design based on 22nm Silicon Technology and offers up to 141 configurable cores. Capable of supporting up to 10TB of RAIM memory, data services (handling, access, analysis, etc.) are optimized with newly redesigned, larger sized caches. Data encryption, including ISPEC and SSL, benefits from augmented Cryptographic Assist Co-Processor Facility (CPACF). Single Instruction Multiple Data (SIMD) allows larger and more complex mathematical models that get to the results more quickly.

Cost effectiveness and efficiencies are improved the economies of scale from large increases in throughput for workloads using Linux and zIIP specialty engines. Required disk space and data transfer times are reduced as a result of improvements on on-chip hardware compression. Later this year, the IBM z13 will add support for KVM virtualization to existing Red Hat and SUSE virtualization. Computing costs are lower for medium to large scale implementations as IBM z13 can support up to 8000 virtual servers on a single system.

The list of improvements continues. We will cover these and other enhancements in future blogs and papers. IBM summarizes how the IBM z13 is reinventing enterprise IT for the digital business as follows:
  • Designed for data and transaction serving for the mobile generation
  • Designed for integrating transactions and analytics for insight at the point of impact
  • Designed for efficient and trusted cloud services to transform the economics of IT
In our opinion, this next year of mainframe computing will be extremely interesting for both the user community and IBM.