New IBM Mainframe – z14 Model ZR1 – What you should know

April 10th, 2018
Marianne Eggett
z Systems Solutions Consultant


The new z14 Model ZR1 (machine type 3907), announced April 10, 2018, is larger, faster and more secure than its IBM z Systems business class predecessors.

The new server has 30 customer-characterizable cores running at 5.2GHz speeds (nothing compares to that in the industry). Its security continues to evolve with the industry’s leading pervasive encryption implementation. Let’s look at this data center server in greater detail.


The new mainframe computer z14 ZR1 is a single, air-cooled frame, with the industry standard 19-inch frame. The frame size, in contrast to the z13’s frame, reduces the footprint by 40%. Since there is only one model, the machine will not experience a model change when growing from 1 to 30 cores. For many customers, this change is a significant cost savings compared to the model upgrades on z13s, or earlier business class machines. The memory doubled in size from 4TB on the z13 to 8TB. Up to 2TB of the memory can be configured for Virtual Flash memory, which is used for improving Db2 or JAVA’s large page access. Core speed increase provides a 10% increase in core capacity, with the PCI or MIPS increase to 1570 on the single core. The new FICON Express 16S+ will auto-negotiate from 4, 8 or 16 Gbps and offers increased bandwidth of approximately 25% more than its predecessor FICON Express 16. A no-charge CPACF (Central Processor Assist for Cryptographic Function) core is located on each chip, dedicated to encryption. This newest CPACF is 2-6 times faster than its predecessor z13’s speed. Note: to use Master Key Management, a Crypto Express6S or Crypto Express 5S card is required.

For the traditional operating systems, there are 156 sub-capacity settings on up to 6 general purpose engines, with a maximum of 8036 (PCI or MIPS).

For the IFL’s software pricing, this box retains the 100 PVUs (Processor Value Units), as with prior business class machines, so the Passport Advantage software costs will not change. The SMT boosts capacity from the z13’s by 10-40%, based on IBM benchmarks. The z14 ZR1 implementation of the Dynamic Partition Manager (DPM) now supports ECKD disk devices, which might have been a show stopper in the past. Linux, z/VM and KVM are supported with DPM. DPM greatly reduces the complexity in configuring the LPARs, making this box ideal even for non-mainframe customers. If you are an Ubuntu subscriber, you will require (1) Ubuntu subscription for all 30 cores/IFLs. With a published cost of $19,500 per drawer, enabling support for all 30 IFLs with one subscription, this will be a significant savings in Linux costs against the Red Hat or SUSE pricing models!


The z14 ZR1 boasts of several performance improvements over the z13 server. Improvements stem from 9 cores on the new chip design, pipeline optimizations, improved branch predictions, cache redesigns and four dynamic address translations engines, versus the one on the z13.

These changes affect performance on:

  • Improved SMT for zIIPs and IFLs
  • Improved Cryptography
  • Improved SIMD extensions for analytics and register-based decimal operations
  • Pause-less Garbage Collection for JAVA
  • IBM zHyperLink Express for connectivity to DS8886


There are many mid-sized and large organizations that want this server to run with 100% up time. For the organization that never wants to take down the box, due to adding memory or I/O cards, the server can be configured for its maximum growth when initially configured. There is a cost for this flexibility, but it is significantly less than a fully populated server. If you do decide that 100% availability is required, the feature codes can be added at a later date.

Customers will have one time, and one time only on the initial order, to choose whether they will have internal disk in this server. Though it’s an interesting concept, the flip side is a reduction from 64 to 32 in the maximum PCI slots.

If migrating from a z13, make note that the PCIe drawers do not move forward. Instead, a new I/O slot’s design has replaced it. Most cards can move forward, except the InfiniBand Coupling Links. The 10GbE RoCE Express card continues to be only for z/OS.

Another availability improvement is the number of installed Resource Groups for the IFP (Integrated Firmware Processor). The z14 ZR1 comes with four, which enables rolling firmware maintenance. The resources defined in the Resource Group will be unavailable during the maintenance, which IBM is quoting to take only minutes to install.


The industry is continuously addressing the security issue. To head this off, IBM announced Secure Service Container (SSC) that enables appliances in an LPAR or partition with complete lock down, even from the system administrators. Two of the first SSC appliances are IBM IDAA on Z and IBM Operations Analytics for Z Systems, V3.1.


There is such a new excitement around the z14 ZR1. Today, new uses for the mainframe, that were never imagined in the data processing world a few years ago, are now mainstream due to the capabilities of the z14 ZR1.

Please contact your Mainline Account Executive directly, or click here to contact us with any questions.

Learn about our Enterprise Data Solutions, Data Management Services, and a highlighted “Storage Transformation Journey” on our Storage and Data Solutions page!


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