ECR Lab Equipment Specifications
The Enterprise Computing Research (ECR) Lab has recently installed an IBM zEnterprise system which significantly boosts computing power for research projects being run at Marist. The zEnterprise system consists of an IBM z114 mainframe and an IBM BladeCenter extension (zBX). The IBM z114 is the latest generation of the IBM mainframe and provides a new hybrid computing architecture to more efficiently support workloads which span platforms. This new hybrid architecture will allow research projects to leverage multiple CPU architectures while managing overall performance as a single workload.
What does the new z114 mean to your research?
The z114 provides a large amount of computing power and flexibility. There are a few suggestions that will allow you to get the most efficient computing resources for your project:
- Pick programming languages and libraries that are portable across a variety of operating systems. This will allow you to determine which hardware architecture will best serve your needs, and then be able to easily move your code between platforms.
- Don't be afraid to spread your research across platforms. Each hardware platform has unique performance characteristics, and you should take advantage of the best equipment for each component of your research projects. The zManager will manage your multiple virtual machines as a single workload to try to achieve optimum computing throughput.
- When appropriate, design your application to scale horizontally and participate in a cluster. Depending on the computing requirements for your project, it may be appropriate to use the zManager API to start multiple instances of your virtual machine at times to achieve optimum throughput. If your application is prepared for this possibility, then you may be able to receive more benefit from the zManager
- Design your application to be memory efficient. This is a shared environment with a limited amount of memory, but a large amount of disk space. Consider designing your application to handle data in smaller amounts and to store interim results on disk. Balancing between memory usage and disk space is an art, but you don't want to have your entire program suspended if just a single bit of memory gets swapped out.
With the addition of the zEnterprise BladeCenter Extension (zBX), the new z114 is being called a “system of systems” by IBM. To enable the most efficient use of all platforms, IBM has introduced the zEnterprise Unified Resource Manager (zManager) as firmware. The zManager provides a single interface and API for controlling virtual resources across all of the supported platforms. The zManager is able to manage multiple virtual machines across multiple architectures as a single workload.
For example, consider an example research project which requires a statistics library running on AIX and Cognos on Linux on System z. From a zManager perspective, these two virtual machines can be defined as a single workload. If the AIX component starts bumping up against a CPU limit, zManager can either manually or automatically increase the CPU limit for that virtual machine based on pre-defined rules. There is also an API available for the zManager; depending on the final configuration of the z114, you may be able to alter certain characteristics of your workload programmatically.
View detailed specifications for the ECR z114 here.