Important Notice Regarding the Latest POWER9 Model G Firmware

Nathan Williams, iTech Solutions

If your POWER9 is one of the new refreshed models (9009-41G, 9009-42G, or 9009-22G), then you may be familiar with the fact that your QPRCFEAT system value does not match the processor feature code as ordered from IBM. This is because—while IBM provided unique feature codes for the different processors in the new model—the actual CPU hardware is identical to the original POWER9 models. Internally, the FSP knows that the chips are the same and reports the actual CPU identifier to the Operating System.

This mismatch has already lead to quite a bit of confusion when ordering license keys for 3rd party applications, as many software vendors use the QPRCFEAT value as part of their key generation algorithm. We have had clients order license keys for their brand new system using the ordered processor feature code (EP51 for example) only to find that the keys don’t work on installation day because the new system is reporting a different code (EP11 in this case).

To address this problem, IBM has released server firmware version VL941_039 for G models only. The only change in this firmware package is to update the processor feature code as reported to the OS so that it matches the value that was ordered. This will help avoid confusion for future installations, but the downside of this change is that anyone who is already running one of these new models in production is going to need to order new license keys from their 3rd party vendors before updating their firmware. The update will need to be planned carefully so as to not leave your applications clamoring for licenses.

Keeping your FSP firmware updated is an important step in keeping your system secure and running smoothly. Even if you’re planning to skip this particular update, we expect that this behavior change will get rolled into future firmware builds. While this is really a non-issue for future machines, every G model POWER9 already in use will eventually need to deal with this change.

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