BLOG: Linux on IBM z15 and IBM LinuxONE III Mainframe Systems

July 14th, 2020 BLOG: Linux on IBM z15 and IBM LinuxONE III Mainframe Systems
Andy Hartman
Senior Consultant


With the recent release of the new IBM z15 T02 and the LinuxONE III LT2, it is a good time to look at the benefits that can be gained with Linux workloads run on these mainframe systems. These two new systems are the next set of products in the IBM z15 family of servers released last year. As with recent generations of IBM Z servers, the z15 T01 and LinuxONE III LT1 were designed to accommodate a large range of workloads. They offer significant scaling capabilities housed in standard 19-inch footprints, from single-frame models all the way up to four-frame models, allowing them to easily fit into any datacenter.


Drive More Customer Workload at a Lower Cost

These servers can be configured with 1 to 190 processors and up to 40 terabytes of RAIM memory, dedicated to running customer workloads with additional processors built in to offload I/O processing as well as cryptographic encryption and decryption, compression and decompression of data, communications, and other tasks that help to drive more customer workload at a lower cost. The IBM z15 T02 and LinuxONE LT2 were built on these capabilities but in a single 19-inch single frame footprint and designed to scale from 1 to 65 processors and up to 16 terabytes of RAIM memory.


Supported Workloads

The LinuxONE III LT1 and LT2 are designed to run Linux-only workloads. In contrast, the IBM z15 T01 and T02 are designed to run traditional IBM operating systems such as z/OS, z/VSE and z/TPF with the ability to run Linux workloads as well. The features that I mention below can be used on any of the IBM z15 or LinuxONE servers and can benefit different types of workloads, but I will concentrate on what can benefit Linux workloads. All z15 and LinuxONE III models support current versions of Red Hat, SuSE, and Ubuntu distributions of Linux. These features also drive the adoption and use of cloud technologies such as Red Hat OpenShift and IBM Cloud Paks that allow you to deploy a cloud on these servers.


An Ideal Platform for Your Most Critical and Secure Applications

Pervasive Encryption for heightened data security is an integral part of IBM Z and encompasses many areas, including:

  • communication encryption
  • data encryption
  • Secure Service Containers – Special LPAR that restricts access by only allowing verified API access and encryption of data and communications.
  • IBM Z Data Passports – Allows for data privacy across platforms and can be extended outside your company to vendors, customers, and partners.
  • various Hyper Protect services – Highly secure environments used for applications such as Blockchain and highly secure virtual servers.
  • IBM Secure Boot for Linux – Allows for verification of the image used to bring up your Linux system.
  • IBM Secure Execution – Allows for additional levels of isolation for virtual Linux guests running under KVM.

Underlying all this security are two hardware features on the LinuxONE and IBM z15 that have continually been enhanced over many generations. Enhancements to the CP Assist for Cryptographic Function (CPACF) and the Crypto Express PCIe cards make the IBM z15 and LinuxONE III an ideal platform for running your most critical and secure applications. These new features are designed to improve encryption and decryption performance by up to 2x over previous versions. Both CPACF and the crypto express cards support new cryptographic algorithms and industry standards and the Crypto Express 7s cards provide the best hardware security module in the industry. This allows you to secure your Linux workloads at scale and reduce the overhead that security can bring on other platforms.


Scale as You Grow with the Compression/Decompression Co-processor

The z15 and LinuxONE III come with a new compression and decompression co-processor that is part of every core. This allows you to scale as you grow your workloads. This compression can be combined with encryption to help reduce the overhead of securing your data. The new co-processors free up slots in the I/O cages and are virtualized across all your lPARS without limitations, allowing you to easily utilize compression with all your Linux workloads.


Faster FICON/OSA/RoCE Features

The new storage and communications options available on the IBM z15 and LinuxONE III are designed to increase the amount of data that can be processed by your Linux workloads. FICON and FCP connections have been enhanced to increase bandwidth and allow for more data to be moved between systems and storage subsystems. The FCP Express 32s feature doubles the capacity of a single connection, allowing more data to be moved and increased capacity for high-volume Linux workloads. For communications, the OSA Express 7s and the RoCE Express 2 (RDMA over Converged Ethernet) provide a 25GB option to allow for greater throughput using fewer physical connections. This is in addition to the existing capabilities to bond physical connections together to provide larger pipes for sizable communication needs. You can take advantage of Shared Memory Communications using the RoCE Express 2 features to reduce the latency and code paths for TCP/IP communications, making these excellent high-speed connections between multiple z15 and LinuxONE III servers.


Larger Memory and Cache

The IBM z15 and LinuxONE III continue to deliver innovation in processor design, memory, and cache design. The increased sizes in the different levels of cache and shortened path lengths increase processor performance by keeping more data closer to the processor that needs that data. The z15 T01 and LinuxONE III LT1 can support up to 40 terabytes of RAIM and the z15 T02 and LinuxONE III LT2 models can support up to 16 terabytes of memory. This allows for very large Linux workloads that require a great deal of memory, such as data in memory used by many different types of databases. The server’s memory can be virtualized or segmented to accommodate various types of workloads based on your needs.

There are many more improvements and new features than have been highlighted here, but even with just the ones that have been mentioned, the LinuxONE III LT1 and LT2, along with the IBM z15 T01 and T02, become an ideal platform to run your critical Linux workloads. From traditional applications to building a cloud in a box, allowing for cloud native development and creation of a hybrid cloud environment, z15 and LinuxONE III can provide the security, performance, and reliability you need at an affordable cost.


Get More Information
As an IBM Platinum Business Partner, Mainline has extensive experience with IBM mainframe systems and operating systems and we can help you with z/OS, z/VM, Linux on IBM Z, and LinuxONE. To set up an in-depth discussion about how to get started using these technologies, please contact your Mainline Account Executive directly or click here to contact us with any questions.


Related Blogs, Videos, and Documentation:

BLOG: Benefits of IBM Z for Private Cloud

BLOG: Benefits of z/OS Container Extensions on IBM Z

BLOG: Making LinuxONE Easy – IBM Hyper Protect for Virtual Servers

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