IBM's New Mainframe: The Key Is the Core

IBM claims its new zEnterprise mainframe is the highest performing, most efficient mainframe ever and the z196 core server has something to do with that. The system is 60 percent faster than its predecessor and uses the same amount of electricity.

IBM claims its new zEnterprise mainframe is the highest performing, most efficient mainframe ever and the z196 core server has something to do with that. In a July 22 press release describing its new system offering, IBM said the core server in the zEnterprise System - called zEnerprise 196 (z196) - contains 96 microprocessors running at 5.2Ghz, capable of executing more than 50 billion instructions per second. From a performance standpoint, the zEnterprise System is the most powerful IBM system ever, IBM said.

IBM's general manager for its System z business, Tom Rosamilia, said IBM's new IBM microprocessor technology has new software to optimize performance of data-heavy workloads, including up to a 60 percent improvement in data intensive and Java workloads. IBM officials said increased levels of system performance in turn increases software performance, which can reduce software license costs.

Moreover, the new system is up to 60 percent faster than its predecessor, the System z10, and uses about the same amount of electricity, IBM said. More than 100,000 virtualized servers can be managed as a single system on a fully configured cluster of zEnterprise Systems. And for customers running Linux, a single virtualized server can be created and deployed on the zEnterprise System for less than $1 per day.

The z196 can be configured to include up to 80 specialty engines to further reduce costs and increase performance including the System z Application Assist Processor (zAAP) for integrating Java workloads with core business applications, the System z Integrated Information Processor (zIIP) designed to help free-up computing capacity and lower IT costs, and the Integrated Facility for Linux (IFL) to optimize Linux workloads running on the mainframe, IBM said in its press release.

Meanwhile, IBM said energy efficiencies in the zEnterprise engine were achieved through advances in microprocessor design, 45nm silicon technology, more efficient power conversion and distribution, as well as advanced sensors and cooling control firmware that monitors and makes adjustments based on environmental factors such as temperature and humidity levels and even air density.

For instance, a water cooling option is also available for the z196 that can reduce energy use by up to 12 percent, IBM said. In a normal data center environment, water cooling reduces the required system air flow by more than 20 percent, while removing more than 70 percent of the system air heat load, IBM explained in its press release. IBM officials said this can be particularly beneficial for data centers with hotspots, or limited power and cooling capacity. Water cooling on the z196 is designed to connect directly to typical data center chilled water systems and does not require an external water conditioning unit.

Also, the new z196 builds on the IBM System z industry leading security features. And IBM officials said the System z server is the only commercial system to achieve Evaluation Assurance Level 5 security classification.