Db2 for z/OS

Specialty Engines:  Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

  • 1.  Specialty Engines:  Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

    Posted Fri May 28, 2021 12:57 PM

    Specialty Engines:  Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery

    IBM Z has long made use of Specialty Engines to provide specific capabilities for customers, including the zIIP engine, which is my personal favorite.  So, it really caught my eye when The Wall Street Journal published an article late last year about how IBM's competitors are customizing chips to provide solutions for Cloud and AI.  The gist of the article is that chip-making has long been dominated by big manufacturers and design houses, like Intel and AMD, and by graphics chip makers, such as Nvidia Corp.  It seems that Amazon, Microsoft and Google are "…getting into the game in the hunt for improved performance and lower costs…building more specialized chips for major customers." (1) This competitive evolution in chip-making provides an opportunity to review what IBM is already doing in specialized chips.

    The IBM z Systems Integrated Information Processor (zIIP) has been my personal favorite:

    • for BI/Analytics workloads, especially management functions integrated with OLTP Systems of Record, like Dashboards for Sales and Operations
    • for Financial Dashboards, especially useful at Quarter-End/Year-End
    • for distributed workloads, primarily customer-facing applications with critical response times
    • for controlling Software Expenses for BI/DW/Analytics, and for Distributed Applications that are mobile and browser-based
      • One application saved over $600,000 in year one by using zIIPs (2)

    Also notable are:

    • The IBM z Systems z Application Assist Processor (zAAP) for JAVA workloads (3)
    • The Integrated Facility for Linux (IFL) (3)
    • Engines dedicated to Compression, Pervasive Encryption, Parallel Sysplex and Data Sharing (4, 5)

    In brief, the Specialty Engine is an area of leadership for IBM Z, already providing key features, performance and pricing benefits for Enterprise Workloads.  Expect IBM to continue in this vein, and furthermore to provide completely integrated solutions for Hybrid Transactional Analytical Processing (HTAP) and Hybrid Cloud.     


    1. Please see Big-Tech Challenge Jolts Chip Industry in The Wall street Journal, Monday, December 21, 2020, on page 1, below the fold.
    2. Please see Remove the Hocus-Pocus from zIIPs and Costing on System Z, by Bernie O'Connor at the Central Canada Db2 Users Group, April 30, 2019.
    3. Please see Engines That Make the Mainframe Special by By Hemanth Rama,  in https://community.ibm.com/community/user/ibmz-and-linuxone/blogs/destination-z1/2019/12/23/engines-that-make-the-mainframe-special
    4. Please see IBM Z mainframe hardware in https://www.ibm.com/it-infrastructure/z/hardware
    5. Please see Compression and Pervasive Encryption z15 Offers the Best of Both Worlds in https://www.ibm.com/downloads/cas/AM1PYZBB


    About Bernie O'Connor

    Bernie O'Connor is an IBM Champion and a Director of IT whose other roles included Application Developer, Development Manager, DBA, DBA Manager, Technical Architecture, BI/DW/Analytics, Pricing Analytics, Computer OPS, System Programmers and Admins, Web Services, M&A and Divestitures.  Bernie is a member of the IDUG Speaker Hall of Fame, and served as IDUG North America Conference Chair (2005 – Denver), IDUG Board Member (2004-2009), and IDUG President (2007-2008).  Bernie is also active in the Midwest Db2 Users Group, and with the Evanta CDO conference.  Bernie's industry experience includes Insurance, Banking, Publishing, Education, Manufacturing and Distribution.  Bernie also advises startups, like the educational startup, The Purple Pen (https://www.thepurplepen.com/).

    Bernie O'Connor