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By the Power of Power, IBM goes Power System

P and I letter makers saddened


IBM's long-standing lurch toward unifying the System i and System p server lines reached another, um, milestone this week. The vendor dished out the Power System servers which share the same innards and component nomenclature. In addition, IBM chucked out i5/OS, revealing "i." We'll pause for the appropriate awe to set in.

For years, IBM has operated under a mandate dubbed ECLipz where it tries to create as much common ground around its non-x86 hardware as possible. One example of this work took place when IBM got both the System i and System p lines on the same Power5 processors. Now, the hardware shares the same memory, disk drives and even firmware as well.

"Before we had different machines, different model names, different prices – pretty much different everything," IBM VP Scott Handy told us. "Now it's all one thing. The amount of work to get to this point was quite remarkable."

We're told that IBM had over 1,000 feature codes for various System i components. Those have all been tweaked to replicate the System p codes. And now the System i crowd will see the same prices as well.

"The four-digit feature code for a power code on i could have been the same as a memory DIMM on p. Now it's all the same."

In addition, the systems will share the same access to management packages for virtualization and the like. And they'll also have equal access to SAN and NAS storage systems, where in the past only the System p boxes worked with SAN gear.

IBM has put the "i" set through many a name change over the years. Timothy Prickett Morgan took a nice swipe at this practice on April 1.

The first refreshed systems to arrive under the new, shared Power System brand are the 520 Express, 550 Express and the iEdition Express blade for the BladeCenter S chassis. IBM released similar hardware for the System p line last month, but the new gear brings the shared firmware that's part of the Power System overhaul. IBM will even re-flash System p customers firmware for free and give them a green strip to place on their existing servers to make them look the same as the new gear. How nice.

The 520 is a low-end server that can ship with up to two 4.2GHz Power6 processors. Customers can activate one, two or four cores on the systems. The larger 550 will ship with two, four, six or eight cores, so up to four Power6 chips running at 3.5GHz or 4.2GHz.

Customers interested in blade systems can slot the JS12 Express blade into the BladeCenter S chassis, which allows customers to run Power and x86 systems in the same case. The server relies on a single, dual-core 3.8GHz version of Power6. IBM will sell the one-core version for the same price as a one-way 520 system and thinks that this pricing will help attract smaller businesses that have a mix of Unix/i loads and x86 loads over to the blade way of life.

There's more on all the hardware here in PDF.

On the software front, the story is rather simple. Version 6 of the i/OS turns into i 6.

We'd go into our thoughts about IBM's re-branding exercise, but Prickett Morgan is a bit more experienced with IBM's System i ways and has covered the issues here in style. ®

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