As you may have seen from IBM, this is the first of what will be two TR updates for IBM i 7.1. This time around, the Technology Refresh is only available on IBM i 7.1, not the earlier 6.1 release.
While IBM is announcing TR8 now, the code will not actually be available until June 6. There are a number of Web application server, database, and development tool announcements. The update also includes native drivers for a whole bunch of hardware that was previously only supported through the Virtual I/O Server, which many IBM i clients do not really like as it means they have to run I/O through an AIX partition and, in many cases, sacrificing some I/O performance because of this.
The Integrated Application Server embedded in IBM i 7.1 is now based on the WebSphere Application Server V8.5 “Liberty” profile, which was launched last Autumn and which allows for WebSphere to only turn on the components of the application server that are necessary for a particular application stack. So, for instance, if all you need is a Java servlet engine, that is all that loads. The idea is to minimize the memory footprint of WebSphere and also to speed up the time it takes to load it. The Web Administration for i graphical user interface has been tweaked so it can be used to create, start, stop, and deploy applications and tune for performance for WebSphere. This functionality will be added through the HTTP PTF Group.
On the hardware front, IBM i 7.1 can now participate in Power Enterprise Pools, which IBM announced last October for clusters of high-end Power Systems iron. These pools allow for processor activations to be transferred from one machine to another, with a predetermined price ahead of time to take into account the relative cost of different machines. With the TR8 update, Power 770+ and Power 780+ enterprise-class servers, which are based on Power7+ chips, can use the pools.
IBM has also improved the write performance of IBM i setups that use VIOS to link to the EXP30 Ultra SSD I/O drawer (feature 5888). The update also includes native IBM i support for 16 Gb/sec Fibre Channel adapters for linking to SANs and for up to two EXP24S small form factor Gen2 drawers (feature 5887) hanging off the EXP30 Ultra Drawer (feature EDR1). IBM has also jacked up the number of virtual disks per virtual SCSI adapter in an IBM i partition (set up with either Integrated Virtual Manager or VIOS) to 32.
IBM is also adding support for Single-Root I/O Virtualization, or SR-IOV, with IBM i 7.1 TR8, which allows for Ethernet adapters to be shared by logical partitions without having to bring VIOS into the equation. IBM says that SR-IOV will allow better performance and control when VIOS is used, and adds that this SR-IOV is similar in concept to the Integrated Virtual Ethernet (IVE) that was part of the OS/400 stack way back when logical partitioning first came to the Power platform
“Full native I/O support by IBM i 7.1 is provided, but IBM i 6.1 I/O support of Power7+ servers requires all I/O to be virtualized by either IBM i 7.1 or by VIOS. Also note that not all I/O can be virtualized, including asynchronous communication adapters and cryptographic adapters. Alternatively, hardware feature EB34 may be purchased to allow IBM i 6.1 I/O support to run natively on Power7+ servers.
IBM i 7.1 TR8 will run on any iSeries, System i, Power Systems, or PureSystems machine with Power5, Power5+, Power6, Power6+, Power7, or Power7+ processors installed.