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New Power Systems Servers Feature Updated Adapter Options


IBM has announced new Power Systems high-performance Fibre channel and Fibre channel over Ethernet (FCoE) adapters—along with new, integrated multifunction cards. This article offers an overview of these new features plus a review of the base Ethernet configuration options for all POWER7+ servers.

What’s New

The new 16 Gb Fibre channel and 4-port SR and RJ45 adapters allow you to configure servers for connection to faster SAN ports and to FCoE switches. These adapters are designed for PCIe Gen2 adapter slots and are supported on Power 710, 720, 730, 740, 750 and 760 servers.

  • PCIe Gen2 16 Gb Fibre Channel adapters provide two 16 Gb ports and will connect to SAN switches running at 4 Gb, 8 Gb or 16 Gb speeds. Available in both regular profile (#EN0A) and low-profile (#EN0B) configurations, these electronically equivalent versions are supported for use in PCIe Gen2 adapter slots.
  • PCIe Gen2 4-port SR and RJ45 adapters offer two 10 Gb FCoE SR optical and two 1 Gb Ethernet RJ45 ports using a single adapter card slot. The FCoE ports allow you to mix high-speed 10 Gb Ethernet and Fibre channel traffic on a single port. This can eliminate the need to configure separate Fibre channel adapters. The 1 Gb ports provide additional LAN connectivity, which can further reduce the number of required adapter cards. This adapter is available in regular profile (#EN0H) and low-profile (#EN0J) formats. They’re supported only in PCIe Gen2 adapter slots.

IBM has issued a statement of direction with the intent to provide future support for the regular profile versions of these adapters on the Power 770 and 780 servers.

Standard Ethernet Adapters

Each Power Systems server must to be configured with at least one Ethernet adapter. The Power 710, 720, 730 and 740 utilize a standard, PCIe 4-port 1 Gb Ethernet adapter to fulfill this requirement. For the Power 710 and Power 730, the base Ethernet adapter is feature #5260, which is a low-profile adapter. For the Power 720 and Power 740, the base Ethernet adapter is feature #5889, a regular profile adapter. These adapters are electronically equivalent.

Additional Ethernet adapters can be ordered using the same feature codes. The Power 710, 720, 730 and 740 servers provide six PCIe Gen2 slots in their base configuration. One of these slots is used for the required Ethernet adapter, which leaves five open slots for additional adapter cards. The Power 720 and 740 servers have the option to add four more (low-profile) slots via the PCIe Gen2 riser card feature.

Integrated Multifunction Cards

The Power 750, 760, 770 and 780 servers provide required Ethernet functionality through an integrated multifunction card. The Power 750 and 760 servers each have one integrated multifunction card slot and six regular-profile PCIe Gen2 adapter slots. The integrated multifunction card slot must be populated on the Power 750 and 760 servers. The Power 770 and 780 servers have one integrated multifunction card slot and six regular-profile PCIe Gen2 adapter slots per Central Electronics Complex (CEC) drawer. The integrated multifunction card slot on the first CEC must be populated. If additional CECs are present, using the integrated multifunction card slot is optional. Four different integrated multifunction cards are available, including:

  • #1768 Integrated Multifunction Card with Copper SFP+, which provides two 10 Gb Ethernet SFP+ copper twinax and two 1 Gb Ethernet RJ45 connections
  • #1769 Integrated Multifunction Card with SR Optical, which provides two 10 Gb Ethernet SFP+ SR optical and two 1 Gb Ethernet RJ45 connections

IBM recently announced new integrated multifunction cards for use with the Power 750 and 760 servers:

  • #EN10 Integrated Multifunction Card w/10 GbE RJ45 and Copper Twinax offers two RJ45 Ethernet ports and two 10 Gb Ethernet SFP+ copper twinax ports. Each of the RJ45 ports is capable of connecting at 100 Mb, 1 Gb or 10 Gb.
  • #EN11 Integrated Multifunction Card w/10 GbE RJ45 and SR Optical delivers two Ethernet RJ45 Ethernet ports and two 10 Gb Ethernet SFP+ SR optical ports. Each of the RJ45 ports is capable of connecting at 100 Mb, 1 Gb or 10 Gb.

The RJ45 ports, configured for 10 Gb speed, would typically be used with a top-of-rack switch. This provides a lower-cost 10 Gb Ethernet solution as compared to 10 Gb SR optical or copper twinax connections. Note that all four ports on each integrated multifunction card must be assigned to a single VIO server or LPAR. IBM has issued a statement of direction with the intent to provide future support for the new #EN10 and #EN11 integrated multifunction cards on the Power 770 and 780 servers.

Adding More Adapter Slots

The 12X PCIe I/O drawer is the only option for adding additional adapter slots to the POWER7+ servers. It can be added to all of the POWER7+ servers except the Power 710. Note that all of the adapter slots in the 12X PCIe IO drawer are PCIe Gen1, which cannot use the new high-speed and higher-density port count adapters. These adapters must be placed into the server’s internal PCIe Gen2 slots.

Adapter Card Planning

Several options can help you reduce the number of adapter cards required for your server. The 4-port 8 Gb and 2-port 16 Gb Fibre channel adapters consolidate bandwidth onto fewer ports as compared to the popular 2-port 8 Gb Fibre channel adapter. For Ethernet consolidation, the new PCIe Gen2 4-port SR and RJ45 adapter combines both high-speed 10 Gb Ethernet and 1 Gb Ethernet ports onto a single adapter. This adapter meets the needs of many clients who desire 10 Gb connections for their applications and also need 1 Gb connections for an administrative network. In addition, the 10 Gb ports on this adapter feature FCoE, which allows you to route Fibre channel over the Ethernet connection, eliminating the need to configure separate adapters.

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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