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HMC for POWER8 Scale-Out Servers

Along with the recently announced POWER8 scale-out servers, IBM introduced Hardware Management Console (HMC) version 8 release 8.1.0. This new HMC version is required for POWER8 servers that will be connected to an HMC. It includes significant enhancements, such as simplified deployment and management of virtual I/O servers (VIOS) and new performance monitoring tools.

POWER8 Scale-Out Server Management Options

You can manage POWER8 scale-out servers with or without an HMC. The various management options and supported virtual machine types are:

  • With an HMC (AIX, Linux, IBM i)
  • Without an HMC:
    • IVM (AIX, Linux, IBM i)
    • KVM (Linux)
    • Full system partition (AIX, Linux, IBM i)

KVM (Kernel-based Virtual Machine) is a popular open-source hypervisor that’s new to the Power Systems family of servers. Both KVM and IVM are installed and run directly on the server. Their management in scope applies only to the virtual machines running on the same server. The remainder of this article will focus on managing POWER8 scale-out servers with an HMC.

HMC V8.8.1.0 Base Requirements

You can use HMC version 8 release 8.1.0 (v8) to manage POWER6, POWER7/7+ and POWER8 servers. POWER5 servers aren’t supported with HMC v8. The HMC v8 code can be installed on rack-mount HMCs models CR5 or newer and desk-side HMC models C08 or newer. At least 4GB of memory is recommended when running HMC v8. When adding HMC-managed POWER8 servers in your server environment, you’ll need to determine if you’re going to connect them to an existing HMC or purchase a new HMC. If you’re planning to use an existing HMC, you’ll need to update its code to HMC v8. You may need to upgrade the firmware for attached POWER6 and POWER7/7+ servers to enable them to work with HMV v8. Supported POWER6 and POWER7/7+ firmware levels for use with HMC v8 are provided on the IBM POWER code matrix website.

The following browsers support the HMC v8 GUI:

  • Mozilla Firefox ESR 17 and 24
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 9 through 11
  • Chrome 31 and Java 7 Runtime Environment

New HMC Server Model 7042-CR8

Along with the HMC v8 code, IBM introduced a new rack-mount HMC server, model 7042-CR8. The CR8 is based on the same hardware as the existing 7042-CR7 HMC, 1U server. All CR8 servers include two 500GB disk drives that are configured for RAID-1 (mirroring) to protect the HMC system disk. The base memory configuration is 8GB. Additional memory can be added in 8GB increments up to the server’s maximum capacity of 32GB. You can also configure an optional redundant power supply. The CR8 has no modem support, internal or external. For network connectivity, four 1GB Ethernet ports are provided. For management of the HMC itself, a dedicated IMM port is provided and the first Ethernet port can be shared with IMM. For local HMC GUI display and keyboard support, model 7316-TF4 is recommended. The 7316-TF4 is a 1U drawer that contains an 18.5-inch flat-panel display and keyboard.

HMC V8 New/Enhanced Functions

The HMC V8 code includes templates for faster and more consistent deployment of VIOS. The provided templates are based on best practices for VIOS configuration. Once you select a template, you only need to specify a few parameters and then your VIOS will be automatically deployed. You can also customize and store templates unique to your business. The template selection and deployment is completed using the HMC GUI. Simplified management of VIOS is also provided through new menus that have been added to the HMC v8 code. The objective is to eliminate the need to login into the command-line interface provided by the VIOS.

Server Performance and Capacity Management (PCM) is another new HMC v8 feature. CPU, network and storage utilization as well as memory allocation can be measured. The collected data can be consolidated to show metrics for the entire server or can be viewed at the individual LPAR or VIOS level. Trending graphs are also available for each of theses measurable categories. PCM information is displayed in three different sections of the monitor homepage window on the HMC:

  • Current Resource Utilization provides information on CPU utilization and memory allocation at the server level. Additionally, total network and bandwidth utilization for traffic for adapters assigned to VIOS is provided.
  • Views is where you select a specific category to view in more detail: processor, memory, network or storage.
  • Details shows a utilization graph for the area you’ve selected from the Views section. A detailed listing of specific measured values is also provided.

PCM is supported with POWER6 and newer servers. PCM reporting features vary depending on the server firmware and deployed VIOS levels.

HMC v8 also introduces configuration support for single-root IO virtualization (SR-IOV). SR-IOV is currently available for a subset of Ethernet adapters on POWER7/7+ servers. SR-IOV lets a single network adapter be shared by multiple LPARs. A configurable percentage of the physical network port bandwidth is allocated to each configured virtual port. SR-IOV is implemented by the hypervisor and doesn’t require the use of VIOS. Note that LPARs configured with SR-IOV ports can’t be migrated with Live Partition Mobility (LPM). However, SR-IOV ports can be assigned to VIOS and subsequently used by LPARs through a virtual Ethernet connection. LPARs configured in this manner can participate in LPM.

Last, with HMC v8, the performance of LPM operations has been improved. Up to 16 LPM operations are now supported. And, the Dynamic Platform Optimizer (DPO) can now be scheduled through the HMC v8 GUI.

Moving Forward

Along with providing support for POWER8 servers, the HMC V8 code provides new functionality that simplifies VIOS implementations through the use of templates and GUI management tools. It also offers new performance monitoring tools to track resource usage for the entire server as well as individual LPARs.

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

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