Underlining how much the introduction of IBM Corp’s G5 series mainframes concern it, Hitachi Data Systems Ltd took the unusual step of taking a full page in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal to advertise a new product that won’t be available until the third quarter of next year. The computer is Skyline II, a second generation of the company’s powerful bipolar CMOS/ECL mainframe systems that have proved a success so far. However with the performance of vanilla CMOS mainframes catching up with the older bipolar transistor technology HDS said it wanted to assure customers there is a long-term evolution plan for Skyline. HDS says Skyline II will include a copper version of its ACE chipset (CI No 3,446), and will perform nearly twice as fast as the existing 150MIPS uniprocessor engine; and as a 12-way system 2.7 times as fast as the current high-end 975 MIPS configuration. It will announce more Skyline details in the first quarter of next year. Meantime HDS has added new models to its Pilot P8 series of CMOS mainframes that are plug-compatible with IBM’s S/390 systems, including Big Blue’s newest G5 models. Like IBM, HDS is offering 11-way systems with turbo or standard G series processor engines as B8T and B8S. It has copied IBM’s new seven-way model with the 78T turbo and says it has added five-way 58R and three- way 38R reduced speed systems on the back of customer demand. The five-way system has enabled at least one customer to avoid a huge rise in software license charges by remaining within the group 80 software price band rather than stepping up to the indexed monthly license charge. HDS says software charges now account for more than 50% of the total cost of purchasing and maintaining an S/390 or compatible environment. HDS currently uses IBM chips, including G series processors, in the Pilot series under an agreement that runs out this year. HDS says it has been in discussions about renewing the agreement but even senior executives claimed they didn’t know the outcome. However it’s understood that if the IBM deal its not renewed then HDS would source parts from its Hitachi Ltd parent. Wherever they come from, new parts will be offered as performance upgrades to the current P8 models. HDS says revenue from sales of Pilot systems should catch up with Skyline revenue within six to nine months before Skyline II ships next year. Over the last few years, IBM’s CMOS mainframes had processors that ran at only 45 and then 63 MIPS, and for many big banks, insurance companies and manufacturers, this was not enough power. That’s why Hitachi has sold hundreds of Skylines since IBM left the bipolar fray. Industry observers say that no matter how impressive Skyline II might be, Hitachi won’t have the same runaway success it did with the first Skyline series.