Three- and six-processor models of a new 3090 E series of top-end mainframes, and 4% to 6% higher prices for 4% to 18% better performance on the E versions of the existing models meant that the only surprise in IBM’s announcement yesterday was that the channel data transfer rate remains at 3Mbytes-per-second. The new models feature high-speed second generation 80nS access time 1Mbit memory chips that are diced from 8 wafers and are twice as fast as, and a third smaller than, IBM’s first generation 1M chip. There are also two new releases of MVS/XA, SP 2.1.7 and 2.2, and VM/XA add support for triadic working, and enhance support for attached vector processors – and presumably : IBM claims that a 3090/600E with six vector processors fitted delivers 700 Mflops. As well as the new 3090/300E and 600E, there are new 150E, 180E, 200E and 400E models, but, as expected, IBM is seeking to maximise revenues by allowing upgrades of existing models only to the next E above – you can upgrade a 180 only to a 200E, not to a 180E; also a 300E cannot be upgraded to a 400E, only to a 600E. IBM describes the 300 and the 600 as genuine triadics rather than dyadics with a third processor on the side (the configuration that Hitachi and its resellers have been offering); a 600 is two triadics rather than three dyadics. Maximum main memory is doubled to 256Mb, and expanded storage to 1Gb, the latter now available on all 3090 models; the maximum number of channels is increased to 128 from 96. Field upgrades take nine to 24 hours depending on models. The increased performance is achieved by winding up the clock to 17.2 nanoseconds and driving the ECL chips harder to make them switch faster; up to 132 chips are now squeezed onto a thermal conduction module, up from 100; the 300E and 600E take up only about as much floor space as the 200 and 400 respectively. The new machines drip with additional microcode – the ROM capacity has been doubled, which implies a host of sleeper functions to be activated later, plus a few nasties to trip up the competition. The 150E has 32Mb to 64Mb main memory, 0 or 128Mb extended storage and 16 to 24 channels and a typical configuration is UKP1.2m; a 180E has the same main memory, up to 256Mb extended store and up to 32 channels; typical configuration is UKP2.1m; the 200E and 300E both have 64Mb to 128Mb memory, up to 512Mb extended store and 32 to 64 channels and typically cost UKP4.0m and UKP5.5m respectively; the 400E and 600E have 128Mb to 512Mb main memory, up to 1Gb extended store and 64 to 128 channels; typical configurations are UKP7.2m and UKP10.2m respectively. First UK deliveries of the 300E and 600E are set for the third quarter; the E versions of the existing models all ship in May; the existing models will continue to be available for those who do not want the extra performance. In the US, entry configurations for the 150E to 600E cost $1.65m, $2.6m, $4.5m; $6.15m, $8.375m; and $11.5m respectively; upgrade prices, either from an original 3090, or from an E, to the next E up are generally the difference between the base model prices.