How does IBM i support POWER8 hardware capabilities? This video highlights the key attributes centered around integration and ease of migration, along with useful resources to help you understand the new breed of IBM Power Systems, built on the POWER8 processor.
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I am pleased to tell you that IBM is beginning the rollout of a new family of power systems with Power8 technology. Dense packaging with energy efficient components, and faster speeds, along with increased capacity for processor intensive workloads are among the highlights for this new family of systems. The IBM i operating system has a well deserved reputation for ease of application migration to new technology, like Power8. IBM i architecture is structured and integrated in a way that allows it to capitalize on many new Power8 architectural features without requiring changes to existing applications programs. The IBM i support for Power8 technology continues this tradition.
I am Nancy Uthke-Schmucki, an IBM i Business Architect for power systems. I work with a team of architects to develop and deliver both the strategy and plan for IBM i. My expertise is in the hardware and IO aspects. Automation and simple controls that offer flexibility to both the inexperienced and experienced system administrator are among the hallmarks of IBM i integration. Even with the transition to a whole new generation of power systems, and through the advances in complexity of processor technology. IBM i 7.2 and IBM i 7.1 technology refresh 8, offer enhanced controls designed to maximize the flexibility afforded by the greater range of SMT levels that are available on newer generations of processors, now including SMT8 for Power8.
IBM i has been designed to exploit the Power8 hardware threading capabilities. It delivers workload throughput that automatically balances for both maximum single thread performance, and overall aggregate performance. A workload gets maximum single thread performance when it’s configured with enough threads and processors. There are configuration settings that allow for dynamic switching of the processor SMT context used by a logical partition to focus the processing power where it is desired most, either to increase aggregate throughput of more threads, or to maximize individual performance of fewer threads. While previously an IPL was required to switch to a different threading context, that switching is now dynamic.
Additionally, IBM i 7.2 provides a new job attribute to influence how processor threads for the job are dispatched. With a simple adjustment of this configuration value, the system administrator can choose between optimizing a particular job for improved thread performance, or running multiple threads concurrently to maximize system efficiency. Similarly, application programmers can also use a new parameter on an API to indicate the processing priority for their job to help achieve best performance. With the increased memory bandwidth, and improved caching built into the Power8 hardware, and these IBM i enhancements, a transition to Power8 can indeed provide greater flexibility for workload processing than ever before. Plus a significant boost in throughput for workloads that are not disk IO intensive.
Power8 introduces new processor counters to simplify capacity and throughput monitoring. In conjunction with a virtualized time base, the virtual processor time and instruction count can be determined on a task basis. This gives a good view of overall processor capacity used, without having to do complicated calculations. IBM i provides 24/7 recording of new metrics for Power8 without the need to specifically start and stop the collection of those metrics. Even more metrics are supported with IBM i 7.2, and support is extended to additional IBM i performance management facilities. Including interfaces for real time performance monitoring applications, such as PowerVP.
A key use of live partition mobility introduced with IBM i 7.1 on Power7 systems is to move a running IBM i partition from one system to another so that planned maintenance can be done on the source system with essentially no downtime, or to balance workloads among multiple systems. Now with the newer generation of power systems with Power8 processors, this function can even be used to permanently migrate a partition from a Power7 system to a Power8 system once the proper licenses and activations are set up on the Power8 system. IBM i 7.2 automatically uses Power8 vector instructions to improve the performance of some cryptographic operations.
Additional information can be found in various places. You can browse the IBM RedBooks, in particular the one listed here. You can check out the performance management on IBM i website. For technical details, use the IBM Knowledge Center. There’s also a very active IBM i community on the IBM developerWorks website. Thank you for your interest in IBM i on Power8.