IBM reinventz mainframe: zEnterprise z196 hybridz (and Catception)

By Richi Jennings. July 22, 2010.

IBM seems very proud of its latest "hybrid" mainframe-cum-blade-server, the zEnterprise 196. Big blue hopes the greener, 50,000-MIPS z196 will reverse the slowdown in its big-iron sales. In IT Blogwatch, bloggers ponder the relevance of 21st-century mainframes.

Your humble blogwatcher selected these bloggy morsels for your enjoyment. Not to mention Catception...


    Peter Judge rules:

IBM [claims] the zEnterprise Server ... to be its most important mainframe for 20 years ... introducing a new architecture which combines z Series with blade servers inside one footprint ... managed by the same “unified resource manager”.


The new mainframe is up to 50 percent faster than the current System z103 ... running 60 percent more work than the z10 for the same amount of energy. ... there is a water-cooling option.


The processors can include “speciality engines”, ... such as the z Application Assist Processor (zAAP) ... the System z Integrated Information Processor (zIIP) ... and the Integrated Facility for Linux (IFL).

Timothy Prickett Morgan needs to sport a thesaurus:

The zEnterprise 196 ... will sport Power7 blades for running AIX and x64 blades for running Linux and maybe Windows.


[It] will sport 96 cores and give about 80 of them over to running either z/OS or Linux in a single system image (rated at around 50,000 aggregate MIPS ... [or] carved up into logical partitions with somewhere around 1,100 MIPS per core.

Andy Greenberg talks hybridization:

Big Blue is still reinventing its big iron. And now it's teaching it how to play nicely with ... modern platforms. ... Unlike past models, the new system functions as a hybrid, with a mainframe housed on one side of a cabinet ... and space for server blades on the other.

G'day, Brett Winterford:

[It] creates a single, virtualised compute resource that can be managed using IBM's Tivoli software. ... IBM would like to see administrators ... gain a single view of their consolidated IBM infrastructure, and be able to allocate physical resources to applications via ... more capacity on the mainframe or more blade servers.


Each zEnterprise mainframe ... can connect to 112 blade servers. ... Up to eight mainframes, each with up to 112 attached servers, could ... create a computer more beastly than most ... organisations would require.

Cliff Saran explains how it works:

Previously code named Grython after the mythical creature with an eagle's head and lion's body ... [it] represents the culmination of a $1.5bn research and development project ... part of a wider $5bn five year program.


It includes the world's first implementations of [RAIM] ... analogous to disk Raid but for memory. This would be used to increase uptime. ... Its 5.2 Ghz microprocessors [are] claimed to be the fastest in the world and offer 100 new mainframe machine code instructions. ... [IBM] said the new instruction set boosts application performance by 20-50%. ... There are four additional racks called z Blade center extensions ... with high performance 10Gbps network switches ... to support Power 7 and System X Blades.

Poor old Maureen O'Gara seems upset that IBM didn't brief her:

It brings to mind the Platform Solutions (PSI) box that IBM bought so it could yank it off the market. The PSI machine ran Windows, Linux, Unix, Open VMS and z/OS on Itanium ... cheaper than IBM could on its mainframes. That's why IBM smothered the thing in its cradle.

But Erik Sherman giggles at one part of the story:

IBM has tried to position mainframes as cloud servers. There’s ... so much spin that I’m surprised company executives don’t lean when they stand. One of the basic concepts of cloud computing ... is the ability to scale capacity as needed.


Try doing that when you’ve got multiple servers effectively thrown into one mainframe, which is either on or off. ... It’s like ordering a Happy Meal when you only wanted a few french fries.

And Finally...

Catception - Dramatic Cat inspired by Inception
[hat tip: Dean Bairaktaris]

Don't miss out on IT Blogwatch:

Richi Jennings, your humble blogwatcher
  Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, you can follow him as @richi on Twitter, pretend to be richij's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email:

You can also read Richi's full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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