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IBM outlines first major update to i OS for Power servers in three years

Not to be confused with Apple iOS or Cisco IOS

IBM has outlined a major update to the "I" operating system it offers for its Power servers.

i 7.5, which will debut on May 10, supersedes the version 7.4 that appeared in April 2019. If that feels like a long time between updates, remember that servers packing IBM's POWER CPUs can also run IBM's own AIX or Linux – a variant of which IBM also packages thanks to its ownership of Red Hat and its Linux distros.

The i OS update – which should not be confused with Apple's iOS or Cisco's IOS – runs only on Power 10 or Power 9 hardware. IBM will happily talk to users of earlier Power servers about an upgrade – proprietary hardware and associated software are massive contributors to the company's revenue and profit.

The new release improves scalability to a maximum of 48 processors per partition in SMT8 mode. That change lets servers packing Power 10 or 9 to run up to 384 threads.

Other additions include:

  • Easier access to the ZLIB algorithm to compress data;
  • More information about the quantity of data being restored during such operations, and a time estimate for when boxes will become available;
  • A number of tools to improve password handling;
  • DB2 for i provides additional functions for HTTP requests to publish or consume web services;
  • Many changes to the REST API, including the ability to handle 248 parameters – up from the seven in previous releases.

IBM's announcement of the update also mentions a couple of odd-seeming changes. One allows clients to change the scope of two-digit year date ranges, so that base years can be moved from 1940 to 1970. If you've been hanging out for that feature, huzzah. Another allows the operating system's FTP client to accept a server certificate that is not signed by a trusted certificate authority – but sensibly leaves that turned off by default.

Another change to the Power ecosystem revealed today is the introduction of a module that allows the use of U.2 15mm NVMe solid state disks. Power 9 and 10 boxes can now run such disks with capacity of 800GB, 1.6TB, 3.2TB, or 6.4TB.

Curiously, IBM's announcement of that feature includes verbose cautions about the lifecycle of such drives, and notes that IBM considers three full disk writes a day for five years to be the devices' expected working life.

Big Blue has also teased an update to the Enterprise Edition of AIX – but it's mainly a change to the bundle offered for one cut of that OS, rather than the more significant update of features offered in i 7.5. ®

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