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IBM welcomes z10 mainframe's new sibling to the family

Mark Fontecchio

Today, Armonk, N.Y-based IBM introduced its z10 Business Class mainframe. The new z10 is essentially the younger sibling of the z10

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Enterprise Class system that Big Blue announced earlier this year.

For more on IBM's z10 and z9 mainframes:
IBM revamps disk systems to support z10 mainframe

IBM rolls out z9 Business Class


IBM pushes System z10 mainframe as consolidation savior

IBM leaks details of new z10 Enterprise Class mainframe

Targeting medium-sized businesses, the z10 Business Class is an update to its predecessor, the z9 Business Class, but 40% faster and with 50% more capacity, IBM asserted.

"This system is obviously going toward the lower-end customer," said John Phelps, a research vice president of servers at Stamford, Conn.-based research firm Gartner Inc., although "larger customers could use it as a standalone coupling system."

Here are some details on the newly announced server:

  • The z10 Business Class includes up to 10 3.5 GHz processors, compared with seven on the z9 BC.
  • It contains memory capacity of 128 GB, two times that of the z9 BC. In addition, IBM said that in June it will double that capacity per machine to 256 GB.
  • It includes p to 30 logical partitions (LPARs). That's the same as the z9 BC, but half the 60 LPARs maximum of the z10 Enterprise Class.
  • The z10 Business class starts at just under $100,000. Compare that with the prices of the Enterprise Class, which costs at least seven figures. The $100,000 will get you a lightly loaded machine running 26 million instructions per section, or MIPS, said Phelps.
Mainframe on Linux shops wanted
David Gelardi, IBM's VP in the Systems and Technology Group, said the z10 BC is geared mostly toward new mainframe customers and those seeking to consolidate x86 servers that run Linux onto big iron instead.

To that end, IBM has offered a powerful incentive for potential z10 mainframe customers. Specialty engines for the z10 Business Class will be half the cost of those on a z9 Business Class model, or $47,500. Specifically, the specialty engines – the Integrated Facility for Linux, or IFL; the z Application Assist Processor, or zAAP; and the z Integrated Information Processor, or zIIP – are built to handle Linux, Java and database workloads, respectively.

The price for specialty engines on the bigger, IBM Enterprise Class, however, will remain $125,000 per engine.

As another incentive, IBM has tried to attract attention to mainframe specialty engines by offering a memory discount on both the Business Class and Enterprise Class machines. While traditionally memory on the mainframe costs $6,000 per GB, Phelps said that IBM now allows users who get a specialty engine on the z10 to buy up to 16 GB of memory at $2,250 per gigabyte. For customers that buy all 16 GB, that translates into a $60,000 savings.

"You can add on your IFLs and memory at a lower price," Phelps said. "It makes it much more attractive as a Linux-only mainframe."

Phelps added that Linux-only mainframes have gatherd steam. Most of the new mainframe customers Gartner now encounters are Linux-only shops, Phelps said, rather than running the traditional z/OS operating system and workloads. Further, most shops running a Linux-only mainframe tend to have another mainframe running z/OS. There are some entirely new mainframe customers, Phelps said, but fewer than 75 a year.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Mark Fontecchio, News Writer. You can also check out our Mainframe blog.


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