LPARs – What’s In A Name?

(Originally posted 2014-01-15.)

Basic tutorial or advanced nicety? You decide…

Having been told what I thought was a nice high level presentation was “a bit too technical” I’ll confess to a perpetual (slight) anxiety about “level”. 🙂

Anyhow, this post is about inferences from LPAR names, particularly deactivated ones.

(If you catch me saying “inactive LPARs” I apologise. I mean ones that are defined on a machine but not activated, as opposed to those that are just idle.)

You probably know that RMF’s Partition Data Report lists activated LPARs by processor pool. (In some cases this can mean an LPAR appearing twice or thrice – if zIIPs or zAAPs are configured to the LPAR.) What you might not know (or might have ignored) is that the same report contains a list of deactivated LPARs.

As someone who majors on SMF data rather than RMF Reports (though I’m thoroughly conversant with the Partition Data Report) I’ve not reported on deactivated LPARs before. In our reporting we only list ones with some engines and memory defined.

A number of things have led me to believe understanding the defined-but-deactivated LPARs is handy:

  • I see gaps in LPAR numbers I’d quite like to explain.
  • I hear customers talk of recovering LPARs from one machine to another.
  • I’d like to understand how much memory is hypothecated for currently deactivated LPARs.
  • I’d like to understand whether an LPAR might be set up but be going to be activated later.

You could call these “nosiness matters” but I think they help tell the story.

What Do We Have?

In SMF 70 Subtype 1 (CPU Activity) we have two sections that are relevant to PR/SM and LPARs:

  • PR/SM Partition Data Section
  • PR/SM Logical Processor Data Section

The former has one for every LPAR defined on the machine, regardless of whether it’s activated or not. The latter has one for every logical processor, whether online (even if parked) or not. Deactivated LPARs have no logical processors, so no Logical Processor Data sections.

Up until now my code has merged Partition Data sections with Logical Processor Data sections and thrown away data for deactivated LPARs. Not any more.

But what you get in the Partition Data section for a deactivated LPAR is only a small subset of what you get for an activated one: You get the name and the LPAR number. That’s it (and I’m not complaining). You don’t get, for example, memory allocated – as there is none.

So I routinely report on the deactivated LPARs for each machine you send me data for. The table has their names and and numbers.

Nosiness Matters

(I have a presentation called “Memory Matters”. Perhaps I should have one called “Nosiness Matters”. 🙂 )

Back to my list of things I wanted to know about deactivated LPARs:

Missing LPAR Numbers

Unless you can tell me differently I see filling in the gaps in LPAR numbers a matter of tidiness. In any case the deactivated LPARs’ LPAR numbers let me do that.

Recovering LPARs

When I’ve used ERBSCAN and ERBSHOW to look at SMF 70-1 records (which I do as a diagnostic aid sometimes, and when developing new code) I see eerily familiar LPAR names.

For example, I might see CEC1 with an activated MVSA LPAR and CEC2 with a deactivated MVSA LPAR. It’s a reasonable guess that either

  • The LPAR got moved permanently from CEC2 to CEC1 (and the definition was left unchanged).


  • The intent is to recover MVSA from CEC1 to CEC2 if necessary.

I’ll admit I don’t know nearly enough about recovery strategies (outside of what Parallel Sysplex and some of its exploiters can do). But this should be a good conversation starter.

Hypothecated Memory For Deactivated LPARs

You don’t get, as I mentioned, memory for deactivated LPARs. This is because they don’t have any: It would be in unallocated memory (a figure RMF also doesn’t have.)

So my approach is to note the deactivated LPARs and enquire how much memory is notionally reserved for them. I can get the purchased memory from the machine’s Vital Product Data (VPD) and do the sums.

LPARs Not (Yet) Present

For some machines I see “aspirational” LPARs – such as ones with “LINUX” or “VM” in their names. Those would be ones the installation hopes to use at some stage. (I’d rather believe that than that the LPAR was the result of an unconvincing experiment.) 🙂

In one set of data I see two pairs of LPARs, one for each of a pair of demerging organisations. Each pair is Prod and Dev. Of these one “DEV” LPAR is deactivated. I guess Development has already moved off, leaving just the counterpart Production LPAR. (The other pair of Prod and Dev remain activated.)


You’ll spot not all my potential lines of enquiry are exhausted. But you”ll see I can make good progress – and ask a whole series of new questions. Hopefully you’ll see value, too.

I’ve also not talked about the panoply of different activated LPAR names. For example, having MVS1, IPO1, SYSA and C158 in the same machine says something about heritage. 🙂

Published by Martin Packer

I'm a mainframe performance guy and have been for the past 35 years. But I play with lots of other technologies as well.

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