IBM may well have to rethink its plans for the so-called F series models of the 3090 mainframe line in light of an announcement from Amdahl Corp that could come as soon as today. Amdahl has launch of its answers to IBM’s 3990 controller and 3380K high capacity disk drive scheduled for this morning, New York time, but the company is also ready with a new processor to succeed the 5890, and we hear that International Data Corp is forecasting that it will deliver between 30 and 40 MIPS, which would put it at near twice the power of the 22 MIPS or so scored by the 3090 180E building block of the 3090 line. The new CPU is expected to support IBM’s new Enterprise Systems Architecture, ESA, and to come in one, two, three and four processor configurations for a top end model delivering between 120 and 140 MIPS – rather more than 3090-600. The announcement would explain the confusion over reports that Fujitsu would market an Amdahl processor in Japan (CI No 919): it is no doubt this machine that Fujitsu wants – as a short cut to being able to offer ESA support, and the reason for the prevarication was likely that the plans came out while the Amdahl CPU was still an unannounced product. The new Amdahl machine, which – if it proves reliable – should do very well in Europe where fewer users slavishly vote the IBM ticket, is likely to persuade IBM to give more away in the so-called F models of the 3090 than it had intended. The most likely approach for IBM would be to wind up the clock several notches and drive the ECL chips in the 3090 a lot faster: the efficiency of the Thermal Conduction Module cooling system makes such an approach quite feasible.
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