Look who's talking about zEnterprise

A funny thing happened following the announcement of the new zEnterprise System ….HP woke up from its own PR disasters to put a shot across IBM’s bow as to the viability of the new mainframe. Let me get this straight…. The company betting a muti-billion dollar business on the sinking ship called The Itanic is telling their clients to doubt the viability of the mainframe. How ironic is that??

Let’s compare facts to their rhetoric. System z now has the fastest, general-purpose processor in the industry, running at nearly 100% efficiency at a blazing 5.2 gHz clock speed. A system that is the result of a $1.5B investment over three years and across six countries and 22 laboratories, continuing a 46 year heritage in development to enhance the price performance of IBM mainframe systems. Yes, IBM may be the only company developing systems for the System z processor, but that compares to HP appearing to be the only vendor developing for (or is it milking their clients with) the Itanium chip. While Microsoft has announced intentions to walk away from the Itanium platform, IBM has no intentions to shut down System z development. How’s mainframe R&D compare to HP? IBM spent approximately ½ HP’s entire R&D budget, just on the zEnterprise server alone. Add with the award-winning Power Systems, System x and cross platform middleware investment, IBM has a much larger innovation bucket than HP, evidenced by 17 years of patent leadership. It’s this “System of Systems” approach where IBM has combined the best of all of its innovations to deliver the zEnterprise server to solve business problems. As of this writing, we already have orders for over 2 Trillion instructions per second of zEnterprise capacity on the books at GA.

Thousands of customers enjoy the reliability, security and scalability of the mainframe. New, first in the enterprise, customers are joining the existing customers utilizing both the z/OS and Linux for System z operating systems. And Linux customers have enjoyed consolidation and virtualization benefits on System z. Why? Fault avoidant and fault tolerant hardware that reduces down time compared to other processors without changes to Linux or the applications and middleware that run on Linux. In addition, they can push the mainframe servers to 100% utilization without fear of failover. Compare that capability to any commodity based server where redundant hardware is necessary to meet capacity goals.

Through years of innovation in energy efficient processing, IBM has continued to reduce the cooling and energy necessary to operate a mainframe. With the same floor space and energy consumption as it’s predecessor z10 server, the z196 delivers up to 60% more capacity and 16 additional processor cores for customer usage. Why did IBM add water-cooling for an additional 12% energy savings? To combat the increase in heat put out by the myriad of commodity-based servers that might co-habit today’s data center.

The zEnterprise provides an opportunity to get those data center costs under control. No other hardware vendors have provided unified resource management across both the mainframe and blades. With the operational excellence of both System z and Power, along with the opportunity to better collaborate across organizational boundaries, the zEnterprise bring customers to solve problems in new ways that delivers them a business advantage. Combining transaction processing and business analytics across a shared database model can provide the insight a business needs to reap new business advantages over the distributed model. Commodity server vendors recommend the transfer of data to different processing domains in order to meet service level agreements, but in turn, don’t meet the business goals.

Scaling a business’ needs in a synergistic fashion is a critical business requirement. HP servers become constrained using VMWare virtualization management to a mere 10,000 virtual images. zEnterprise, using the strength of its 40+ year heritage in virtualization is capable of managing over 100,000 virtual images in a single operational domain.

The future looks very bright for the IBM mainframe. IBM continues to make signicant investments, and the next generation processor and system design is already on the drawing boards in IBM research and development. Customers praise the value delivered and analysts speak to its competitive merits. In the end, it’s the customers’ impression and acceptance that means the most.

So, (not) sorry to burst your bubble, HP!

by JimPorell September 9, 2010
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The World's Fastest Microprocessor

IBM's zEnterprise z196 contains the world's fastest microprocessor. Yes, you read that correctly: the mainframe contains the fastest cores in the world. Welcome to a new world.

The dirty little secret in microprocessor design is that engineers are increasingly slamming into brick walls. It's getting more and more difficult (and expensive) to continue to enhance processor speed. Intel many years ago gave up on clock speed improvements, stabilizing at 3-point-something Gigahertz. The IBM z196 microprocessor runs at a record 5.2 GHz. (That's continuous clock speed and with all cores active, not some sort of "burst" mode.) A faster clock speed is still quite important — let's not kid ourselves — but there are also several other improvements in the z196 processor. One of them is out-of-order execution, something that IBM figured out how to do while enhancing reliability. IBM also made great improvements in cache sizes and architecture.

Fastest means fastest: the z196 cores are presently the fastest cores in the world. Let's be very clear here: if you double the number of cores you don't double performance. If you're performing one task, adding cores won't help. Sure, mainframes are expressly designed to juggle multiple concurrent workloads, but each task dispatched to a z196 core, even a computationally intense one, can now run faster than it would on any alternative core. This engineering accomplishment only adds to the mainframe's already impressive throughput performance.

Watch some IBM engineers discuss the z196's performance:

by Timothy Sipples September 7, 2010 in Innovation, Systems Technology
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