HP Superdome and Green Computing

The HP Superdome is designed with a much different basis than most of its competition – and indeed, many computers. The design principles behind the HP Superdome lead to a lesser impact on the environment, and thus are a "greener" choice for heavy computing.

Why? The HP Superdome is designed in such a way that its pieces can be replaced as needed, and the need to replace the entire system (common with other systems, including mainframes) can be dramatically reduced. The HP Superdome is designed with at least a 10-year lifespan, meaning that it when other systems have to be replaced the Superdome will (at most) only need "refreshing" with new cells or perhaps other parts.

For example, in 2009, the original HP Superdome prototype is still running – and even has HP Integrity cells operating.

Most other systems will have to be replaced once or twice before a Superdome has to be replaced. Replacing the system generates, as a result, a certain amount of electronic waste – and a mainframe will create a large amount of waste.

This is on top of the fact that the HP Superdome uses less electricity than a mainframe. It is also possible to only use the cells that you need, leaving the others either inactive via iCap (no power) if they exist at all.

All of these facts suggest that an HP Superdome would be a good choice for green computing in contrast to its mainframe competition.

A update on the recent HP Superdome Tech Day: turns out that Jacob Van Ewyk blogged about it in a two part article (part 1 and part 2) on the blog, Mission Critical Computing. John Pickett wrote about the energy savings inherent in using an HP Superdome on the blog Legacy Transformation.

Test Plan Charlie: 41000 Linux Servers on One Box

There was a test done many years ago by David Boyes, an engineer working out of Virginia.  The test was simply to run as many Linux servers on one IBM zSeries mainframe – and to keep adding them until something broke.

The test hit the limit at 41,400 Linux servers – and nothing ever “broke.” This project was widely reported at the time, though it seems to be forgotten now. However, the test caught my fancy. That’s a lot of Linux machines.

As was mentioned, this report was widely reported: Linux Journal had an article on 1 June titled The Penguin and the Dinosaur from Adam Thornton. That same day, Daisy Whitney authored an article, Linux on Big Iron – possibly in Datamation. Scott Courtney (the Technical Editor for Internet.com) wrote S/390: The Linux Dream Machine on 23 February and wrote It’s Official: IBM Announces Linux for the S/390 on 17 May. What really stands out? All of these articles reporting on the S/390 and on Test Plan Charlie occurred nine years ago, in 2000.

Scott Courtney followed his articles up with an interview with David Boyes in 2001.

There is one more thing about David Boyes: following Test Plan Charlie, he went on to create Sine Nomine Associates and showcased OpenSolaris running on the IBM zSeries in November of 2007 – with attendant press releases from IBM. Certainly, David is not one to sit idle – and is a figure to contend with in the IBM zSeries arena. IBM has, since the original announcement nine years ago, pushed Linux on zSeries with vigor.  One irony: Test Plan Charlie was part of a study for an IBM customer that was deciding whether to use their existing S/390 or whether to use a new Sun set up.

There is even an open source IBM mainframe emulator called Hercules, which allows the rest of us to try it out and see what happens – even though you won’t be able to run under z/VM, as that is an IBM product.

Update: there was a nice set of updates about OpenSolaris on zSeries over on DancingDinosaur: Here comes (and goes) the Sun (12 April 2009) and Slow times for OpenSolaris on System z (21 July 2009).

Update: More articles on Test Plan Charlie. In the November 2000 issue of Technical Support, Adam Thornton wrote a nice two-part article (part one and part two) on it. Adam is a major contributor to the Linux on S/390 effort and worked for David Boyes at Rice University.

A good source of information for Linux on S/390 is linuxvm.org.

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IBM z/Series and OpenSolaris

In the past, the z/Series has been known for its virtualization of Linux servers (over 10,000 possible!). Now, someone is showing OpenSolaris running on z/Series at the Gartner Data Center Conference in Las Vegas. There is an excellent write-up from the Mainframe blog, and another post from Marc Hamilton.

There is also an excellent open source IBM zSeries emulator called Hercules which can run Linux, MVS, DOS/VSE and others – and now, soon, OpenSolaris.

There is a very interesting speech given at Linuxworld by Guru Vasudeva from Nationwide about how his company implemented virtual Linux machines on IBM zSeries with z/VM.

When I first saw this (from IBM’s web site) I thought it was laugh out loud funny – and it still is. It also gives a hint at the power of the IBM z/Series, and shows one of the reasons I’m excited about the power one of these has.

I just love the deadpan Joe Friday responses from the cops, and some of the quotes:

  • “Could it be an inside job? We’re inside, right?”
  • “I need my pills!”
  • “What’s a server?”