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May 5, 1988


By CBR Staff Writer

Amdahl Corp has described the combined announcement of its 6100 Storage Processor, top-end 5990 processor, and 6308J and 6380K single and triple-capacity storage devices as a breakthrough solution to the growing data storage problems experienced by users of very large systems. These claims are seen to bear particular relation to the heart of the breakthrough; the difficult, complex and very interesting 6100 Storage Processor, which took five years to develop and could – so the company argues – completely transform prevailing approaches to on-line storage. As reported (CI No 921), the 6100 offers a new, modular architecture which combines cache and storage subsystem control, a number of fault-tolerant features, several customised Fujitsu microprocessors, and can be configured with up to 32 input-output paths. With an aggregate data rate of 72Mbytes-per-second, the 6100 offers greater flexibility, a larger useful life, and four times the data transfer capability of any existing storage controller, Amdahl claims. The new 6380 disk drives use a 638Mb logical volume and comprise nine 10.5 platters in one sealed head-disk assembly store 1.89Gb formatted and come in two models: the 6380J 2.5Gb unit – where not all the raw formatted capacity of the two head-disk assemblies is used – and the 6380K 7.5Gb system with four head-disk assemblies, each with one actuator. IBM still uses 14 platters and two head-disk assemblies, each with two actuators, but is believed to be planning eventually to go to a 5.25 platter. In the interim, IBM is tipped to come out with a very fast 1Gb drive with a platter diameter of around 10 for use as a staging disk with the new 3380s and the 3990 controller – you can spin small platters faster without generating an unacceptable amount of extra heat from air resistance. 180 picoseconds The new 5990 processor is rated by Amdahl in the UK at 35 MIPS, although at the US launch, in questions and answers, president Joe Zemke said if you take the 5890 as 20 MIPS, the 5990 is 33 or 34. Amdahl says it represents an enhancement and expansion of its winning 5890 central processing unit. The company was quick to point out that, although the new processor and Fujitsu’s M780 were jointly developed and share common technology and similar hardware, the Amdahl product offers its proprietary Multiple Domain Feature, support for Expanded Storage, a modified power supply which conforms to European standards, and – crucial to understanding why Fujitsu will sell the product to IBM users in Japan – full IBM compatibility, including support for Enterprise Systems Architecture, ESA. Boasting a 10nS cycle time – compared with 18.5nS on IBM’s 3090 – the 5990 processor initially comes in two- and four-processor configurations. The 5990 CPU occupies one multi-layer circuit board, and features the densest VSLI ECL chips available and a new chip that combines memory and logic circuitry. The 5990 also features a unique combined water and air cooling system that is self-contained within the machine – as has always been the case with Amdahl machines, the customer does not have to arrange for a supply of chilled water. The chips in the 5990 feature raw switching speeds double that of those of the 5890s – 180 picoseconds for the ECL logic, 280pS for the combined logic and memory, and that overall, the 5990 processor has shown performance improvements of over 50% in commercial applications, and up to 100% in scientific and engineering applications. The company plans to start shipping the 5990-700 in June, at a UK price of UKP5,468,000: the 5990-1400 will be available in the fourth quarter at UKP14,800,000. Also planned for the fourth quarter are shipments of the 6100-100 and -200 at UKP63,000 and UKP673,905 respectively. The 6380J disk unit will enter the UK market in the first quarter of 1989 at UKP177,700, the 6380K at UKP335,500.

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