Way back in 2015 we published a similar article on the confusing world of IBM nomenclature. To this day, it is among our most searched posts. To make it easier to find, we are republishing this updated version.
Trying to navigate IBM hardware presents a seemingly endless array of numbers to describe processor speed, drive storage space, transfer rates, and a host of other characteristics. In the sea of IBM numbers, none are more confusing than part numbers, which are subdivided into marketing numbers, FRUs, and feature codes. In any IBM server installation there thousands of these numbers. Understanding the difference between a part (marketing) number, a FRU, and a feature code can save both time and money.
The Part Number, also called a Marketing Number, describes a specific part within a specific system among IBM’s various product lines. It is used to configure a new system or add features to an existing system. For example, if you want a dual port expansion card in an IBM Blade Center you would include 46M6140 when you build the system, or order it to add it later. These numbers tell IT infrastructure technicians exactly which parts are included in their servers, storage and networking equipment. The numbers are used in IBM marketing materials for technicians configuring new equipment. You can use a part/marketing number to find a replacement part, but it is not the primary reason that number exists. Some parts may not have a part number at all, if they are not for original purchase outside of a configured unit.
FRU stands for Field Replacement Unit. It is the number IBM uses to reference a part for repair. The FRU number may, or may not, be accompanied by a part number; some parts have a FRU only. Use FRU numbers to request spare or replacement parts. FRUs are the numbers IBM technicians will use when replacing a part. However, a FRU number may not be the only number associated with many parts, and the exact same part may have different FRU numbers in different countries or inside different systems. The FRU number indicates the IBM specified replacement part, but sometimes two identical parts can have different FRU numbers.
Inside IBM, they use the Feature Code to process orders. Finding a replacement part can be easier and cheaper if you know the Feature Code. IBM uses the feature code because any one IBM item can have twenty or more FRU or part numbers. For example, 36.4GB 10K SCSI drive with the feature code 3129 can have the part numbers 00P1519, 00P2676, 07N3774, 07N4803, and many others. While a you may be holding a faulty drive with IBM Part number 00P1519, that isn’t the only number indicating an exact replacement. To save time and money, try to find the feature code when replacing a part.
It is important to know the correct feature code for an IBM part, or to have a partner you can trust to provide the information. At Frontier, we have had customers come to us requesting a specific part number that may have the same feature code as many other part numbers. To go back to our 36.4GB SCSI drive with the feature code 3129, a customer may ask for part 00P2676. If they only have this specific part number and search the internet, they may find a reseller advertising that part number for $150, hoping their buyer doesn’t know the 00P2676 part number is a feature code 3129 drive, worth maybe $50. We will share the correct feature codes to assure our customers pay a competitive price for the IBM parts they need. If you are not well versed in features codes, it is important to have a vendor like Frontier that will reference the correct feature code when you ask for a specific part number.
If you have any questions about part numbers, FRUs or feature codes, give Frontier’s IBM team a call. We will tell you exactly what part you need, and which FRUs and feature codes will work as replacements.
Contact Frontier at
photo: Bruce Mars/Unsplash