IBM releases iSeries model 890 Regattas

And OS/400 V5R2

ComputerWire: IT Industry Intelligence

As we had heard might happen, IBM Corp moved up the iSeries "Regatta" Power4-based server announcements to yesterday,

Timothy Prickett Morgan writes


While the high-end Regatta-H servers will make their debut in 16-way, 24-way, and 32-way configurations under an early-release program running OS/400 V5R2, don't expect those entry Regatta-L and midrange Regatta-M servers any time soon. IBM does not have any other plans for server announcements for the remainder of 2002 in the iSeries line.

The iSeries Model 890 is roughly the same machine as the pSeries 690 that was announced last October. It uses two, three, or four Power4-based multichip modules (MCMs), which each have four dual-core Power4 processors running at 1.3GHz.

The Power4 processor includes a unified L1/L2 cache memory integrated on each chip, as well as an integrated L3 cache controller and directory that links into a shared L3 cache that spans each MCM. In the iSeries Regatta line, and in the pSeries 690, the unified L1/L2 cache that is shared by two Power4 cores on each chip is 1.5 MB in size. Each Power4 MCM can support 128 MB of L3 cache memory as well.

The 16-way and 24-way iSeries Regatta machines support 402 MB of combined cache memory, and the 32-way version supports 536 MB. These caches suggest that the 16-way machine is really a 24-way configuration with three MCMs, with one third of its processors deactivated across those MCMs, even though all of the caches are still active. (This is actually an intelligent way to ensure balanced performance and ease of upgrading.)

IBM will be shipping four different versions of the iSeries Model 890 beginning on June 14, with general availability sometime in August, along with the general availability of OS/400 V5R2. I had been told by sources familiar with IBM's plans that the company had intended to launch the iSeries Regatta machines on July 23.

The early release of V5R2 will only be available in English, incidentally. Configurator support for the new iSeries Regatta machines and V5R2 operating system will be available for IBM sales reps and resellers starting on June 4.

Two versions of the iSeries Regatta-H Model 890 server have zero base interactive performance and are not able to be equipped with interactive features in the future; two models have a span of 5250 interactive features for customers who want to support green-screen RPG and COBOL applications. The Model 890-0197 comes with 16 Power4 processor cores (making it effectively a 16-way server) and 8 GB of base memory and a single 17.54 GB disk drive.

It can support up to 192 GB of main memory and 2,047 disk arms or 72 TB of capacity using the new 35.2 GB disk drive features. This server, when properly configured with more main memory and disk arms, has a server CPW rating of 29,300, which is 45 percent more performance than the current top-end Model 840-2420, which has 20,200 CPWs of raw server power, and which uses two dozen of IBM's 600 MHz S-Star PowerPC processors. This base Model 890-0197 will cost $1.5 million, according to IBM sources. At that price, it is a great bargain, compared with the top-end Model 840-2420 with 120 CPWs of interactive processing capacity, which costs just under $1.5 million.

The other zero-interactive version of the iSeries Regatta-H server is called the Model 890-0198, and it has the full complement of 32 Power4 processor cores, and the full cache memories as well. In a base configuration, with 8 GB of main memory and 17.54 GB of disk, the Model 890-0198 will cost $1.9 million.

This machine is rated at 37,400 on the CPW benchmark, yielding about 85 per cent more throughput for online transaction processing workloads than the Model 840-2420 for 29 percent more money. Again, this machine cannot make use of the 5250 green-screen protocol.

Perhaps more significantly, at least a few of the iSeries Regatta models will be in a new software tier--the P60 tier--which could cause application and system software prices to rise considerably for companies that move to these machines. Capacity Upgrade on Demand (CUoD) features are not available on zero interactive models of the iSeries 890 servers.

The two iSeries Model 890 machines that do support the 5250 interactive features are very similar to the two machines outlined above. However, they support CUoD and a wide range of interactive feature cards that allow companies to dial up their green-screen processing power.

The base 16-way Model 890-2487 and 24-way Model 890-2488 come with 120 CPWs of interactive performance as standard; they also come with 8 GB of base memory and 17.54 GB of disk, and can support up to 72 TB of disk capacity using 35.2 GB disk drives, just like the base Model 890 machines. The 890-2487 offers from 120 to 20,200 CPWs of green-screen power (this range could change, I've been warned) and from 20,000 to 29,300 CPWs of raw server power. It can support up to 192 GB of main memory, and costs $1.77 million, which is an 18 percent premium when compared with the 24-way zero interactive machine (which has eight more processors and still costs less money).

IBM is obviously charging a pretty hefty premium for access to the 5250 protocol. Just how much is not clear, because the full price list is not available for the calculations to be done. The Model 890-2488 comes with 24 processor cores that are expandable to the full complement of 32 cores; it can support up to 256 GB of main memory. The 24 processor core machine has 29,300 CPWs of raw server power, and the 32 core machine has a rating of 37,400 CPWs. Interactive performance scales all the way up to the full 37,400 CPWs on this box, for customers with gargantuan RPG applications.

With 8 GB of memory, 17.54 GB of disk, 24 processor cores activated, and 120 CPWs of interactive performance, the Model 890-2488 costs $2.35 million. That's 85 percent more raw server throughput with the same base interactive performance as the Model 840-2420 at a base server price that is 60 percent more than the Model 840-2420. That comes to a price/performance improvement of just under 14 per cent.

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