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New Version 7.2 Features Reflect IBM’s Commitment to AIX


AIX 7.2 delivers performance, virtualization and improved maintenance enhancements to the AIX OS. These new features demonstrate IBM’s continued commitment to AIX.

New Feature Highlights

AIX 7.2 is a well-rounded release with new configuration options for improving system performance and usability. Here are some of the highlights from the recent AIX 7.2 announcement:

Performance

  • Flash caching is a new feature introduced with AIX 7.2. This allows direct-attached, SAN-based and VIOS-managed flash storage to be used as read-only cache for frequently accessed storage data. The caching is managed by AIX and doesn’t require any application changes, which simplifies the implementation of flash caching. You start by selecting a subset of an LPAR’s disk storage to be targeted for disk caching. For the targeted disk storage devices, AIX automatically saves a copy of recently accessed data blocks to the flash cache. When your application issues data reads, AIX first checks the flash cache and if the data block is found, a faster read is achieved. Flash caching is Live Partition Mobility (LPM) compatible when used with VIOS-based LPARs. Note that all disk writes always go back to the target disk and the flash cache always operates as a read-only copy.
  • Oracle RAC performance can be improved with the use of RDSv3 (Reliable Datagram Sockets) over 40GB RoCE (remote direct memory access over converged Ethernet). This offers a high-speed Ethernet based alternative to InfiniBand networks, which may be a better fit for your data center network infrastructure.
  • Dynamic System Optimizer (DSO) is now included with AIX 7.2 Standard Edition and AIX 7.1 Enterprise Edition. DSO works within the AIX operating system, providing automatic memory page size tuning and dynamic memory prefetch based on workload access patterns. At the hypervisor level, DSO can collocate cores and memory assigned to an LPAR to improve performance. Positioning cores closer together can improve cache usage (cache affinity). Moving allocated memory closer to these cores reduces memory access time (memory affinity). DSO is most effective when applied to workloads that are multithreaded, run for longer periods of time and have stable processor usage.
  • CAPI Flash Adapter support for AIX is another new feature. This support allows IBM FlashSystem 900 LUNs to be zoned directly to a CAPI Flash Adapter WWPN. The FlashSystem LUNs will appear as hdisks to AIX. The CAPI flash adapter has two 8Gb FC ports and an imbedded FPGA (field programmable gate array). CAPI flash adapter support is for direct attach only; no virtualization or MPIO sharing is allowed.

Virtualization

  • New vNIC (virtual network interface controller) functionality can be used with SR-IOV capable network adapters. The vNIC uses a one-to-one mapping between the vNIC adapter in the LPAR and the backing logical port in the VIOS. This allows data to flow directly between the LPAR and the physical adapter without passing through the VIOS for improved performance. This data flow reduces VIOS CPU and memory consumption. LPARs with vNIC interfaces can be migrated using LPM.

Maintenance

  • Live update for interim fixes provides the capability to apply kernel and kernel extension fixes in a non-disruptive manner. No reboot of the OS is required after these fixes are applied. The interim fixes can be applied directly from AIX or pushed/pulled from a NIM server. Note that live update for interim fixes requires all LPAR I/O to be virtual and the availability of spare system resources (cores and memory) that match the size of the target LPAR.
  • Automatic recovery of Cluster Aware AIX (CAA) repository disk is introduced with AIX 7.2. PowerHA utilizes the CAA repository disk as a central location to store information about the cluster. This new feature allows you to specify a recovery disk that will be automatically activated if the repository disk fails.
  • BigFix (AIX 7.1 and 7.2 Enterprise Editions) provides automated system patching. Managed from a single console, BigFix helps to deploy and manage patches to a distributed group of servers. Visibility and enforcement capabilities allow you to monitor the status of patch installation.

AIX Enterprise Editions

Enterprise editions bundle popular Power Systems software under a single AIX product number. This simplifies the initial software order and subsequent support and subscription activity. The enterprise editions also offer cost savings when compared to purchasing each product separately. AIX enterprise editions can be ordered for both scale-out and enterprise-class Power Systems servers. IBM continues to refine the AIX Enterprise Edition packaging offering and two new versions have been announced:

  • AIX V7.1 Enterprise Edition version 1.1
  • AIX V7.2 Enterprise Edition version 1.1

These new enterprise editions include the following features:

  • PowerSC V1.1 (security and compliance)
  • PowerVC Standard Edition V1 (Virtualization Center)
  • Cloud Manager with OpenStack V4.3
  • IBM BigFix Lifecycle
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • IBM Tivoli Monitoring V6.3
  • DSO V1.1 (AIX 7.1 EE and AIX 7.2 Standard Edition only)

AIX Enterprise Edition 7.1 was withdrawn from support, effective September 2015. If you have this version of enterprise edition and it’s covered under IBM software subscription, you can upgrade to one of the newer versions of AIX Enterprise Edition at no charge. AIX WPAR Manager is no longer included with the AIX Enterprise Editions. AIX WPAR Manager was dependent on Systems Director, which has been withdrawn from sale.

Support Information

AIX 7.2 is supported on IBM POWER7, POWER7+ and POWER8 servers. Following are some important dates for AIX versions 6.1, 7.1 and 7.2:

  • Available December 4, 2015
    • AIX V7.2 Standard Edition (5765-G98)
    • AIX V7.2 Enterprise Edition Version 1.1 (5765-CD3)
    • AIX V7.1 Enterprise Edition Version 1.1 (5765-CD1)
  • Withdrawn from marketing April 5, 2016:
    • AIX 6.1 Standard Edition (5765-G62)
    • AIX Enterprise Edition Version 6.1 (5765-AEZ)
  • End of support April 30, 2017
    • AIX 6.1 Standard Edition
    • AIX Enterprise Edition Version 6.1

IBM has not announced end of marketing and support for AIX 7.1.

Commitment and Leadership

The high-impact performance and usability enhancements included with AIX 7.2 are evidence of IBM’s continued commitment to the OS. IBM continues to demonstrate enterprise class systems leadership with the Power Systems family of servers and supported OSs.

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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