AIX > Administrator > Networks

Latest Release Extends HMC Capabilities to Power Blades


In late 2012, IBM announced a new CR7 rack-mounted version of the IBM Power Systems Hardware Management Console (HMC). This new CR7 HMC and its associated operating environment introduces RAID-1 protection for the internal HMC drives, the ability to manage BladeCenter Power blades, and an increase in the number of concurrent Live Partition Mobility (LPM) migrations.

Hardware Overview

The 7042-CR7 HMC is a 1U rack-mounted system based on the IBM System x3550 M4 (type 7914) server. This is the only HMC model currently available for purchase. IBM no longer offers desktop HMC models. The CR7 HMC has the following hardware features:

  • One quad-core Intel processor
  • 8 GB memory with up to 88 GB of additional memory available for a total of 96 GB
  • One CD/RW DVD-RAM optical drive
  • Two 500 GB internal SATA drives configured for RAID-1 mirroring; previous-generation 7042-CR6 HMCs can be upgraded to support RAID-1
  • Four 1 Gb Ethernet ports used for connection to managed server HMC ports and remote access to the HMC from a browser. (An additional System Management Ethernet Port isn’t used by the HMC software.)
  • Four USB ports used with keyboard, mouse and flash drive devices
  • Two adapter slots (one each for PCIe and PCI-X)
  • One power supply, but an optional, redundant power supply is recommended

When an HMC is ordered with an IBM rack, power cord feature #6577 can be selected, allowing IBM manufacturing to select the optimal length power cord based on the HMC’s location within the rack. Additional features that can be configured on the CR7 HMC include:

  • RFID tag to assist with asset inventory tracking
  • 8 GB USB memory stick
  • Internal modem for the electronic service agent call-home feature. (Use of an Ethernet broadband connection is recommended for call-home activities, though a modem is still supported.)

The 7316-TF3 Rack-Mounted Flat Panel Console Kit continues to be the recommended display and keyboard for the HMC. The 17-inch display and USB keyboard included in this kit are contained within a 1U, slide-out drawer. When the drawer is pulled out of the rack, the display tilts upward for easy visibility. The supplied IBM Travel Keyboard features both Trackpoint and Trackpad navigation devices. Up to 64 HMCs can share a single console kit using a keyboard/video/mouse switch, which is available for order as a feature code of the 7316-TFT console kit.

The local HMC display and keyboard is primarily used during new server installation and server hardware maintenance activities. The majority of HMC activities—like creating LPARs, entering license keys, and working with capacity on demand resources—are performed remotely from a browser running on an administrator’s personal computing device. Remote access to the HMC has been tested with the following Web browsers:

  • Microsoft Internet Explorer V6.0 through V9.0
  • Firefox up to V9

Machine Code Enhancements

For the OS and application environment, the CR7 HMC requires the use of HMC Licensed Machine Code version 7 release 7.6.0 (7.7.6.0 or V7R760) or later. For higher levels of HMC availability, two HMCs can be connected to each Power server, which is referred to as redundant HMC configuration. When configuring redundant HMCs, all must be running the same version of the HMC code. The CR7 HMC can be intermixed with 7042 CR4, CR5 and CR6 rack-mounted HMC models when operating in a redundant HMC configuration. POWER5, POWER6 and POWER7 servers can be managed with the CR7 HMC. These servers must be at minimum supported firmware level to work with 7.7.6.0 HMC code. Check supported server firmware levels at ibm.com.

A new feature of the V7R760 HMC code is the ability to manage IBM BladeCenter Power blades with an HMC. This allows Power blades to be configured with one or two VIO servers. Previously, Power blades couldn’t be managed by an HMC, so the Integrated Virtualization Manager (IVM) provided virtualization capabilities. However, IVM doesn’t offer the redundancy offered by dual virtual I/O (VIO) servers. Power blades currently managed with IVM can be converted to HMC management. This change will require an outage and all partitions will need to be manually recreated on the HMC. The HMC also provides Power blade support for LPM. LPM operations can take place among any combination of Power blades, Power servers and PureFlex compute nodes.

Additional enhancements to LPM functionality are included with the V7R760 HMC code. The number of concurrent migrations has been increased from eight to 16. This will help to reduce the amount of time required to migrate all of the running LPARs off of a server. Up to eight concurrent migrations are supported per VIO server pair when the LPM mover partitions are configured with 10 Gb Ethernet. When the LPM mover partitions are connected with 1 Gb Ethernet, up to four concurrent LPM migrations are allowed per VIO server pair. During LPM migrations, you also can choose specific Fibre Channel ports to be used on the target server.

Next Steps

The new RAID-1 functionality and support for Power blades provided by HMC code V7R760 are welcome additions. You should review your current HMC environment with regard to HMC models and code versions along with firmware levels for attached Power Systems servers. Note that V7R760 is the last version of the HMC code that will be supported on HMC models C04 (desktop) and CR2 (rack-mount). Should you need to purchase a new HMC, it’s important to understand the minimum supported firmware requirements for the servers you’ll be attaching to it.

Charlie Cler supports customers in a solutions-architect role at Forsythe Technology Inc. He can be reached at ccler@forsythe.com.


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