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February 22, 1999


By CBR Staff Writer

By William Fellows

Hitachi Ltd claims its 16-way Skyline II ‘Trinium’ mainframe will achieve a linear scaling efficiency of 0.8 for every additional bi-polar CMOS/ECL ACE/2 processor added to a system, versus a scaling factor of 0.71 for IBM Corp’s G series of CMOS S/390 engines. Unix server vendors simply aren’t on the map, it says. None, in its opinion, would get anywhere near 80% efficiency from a 16-way SMP system. Indeed, if the Unix vendors now have the mainframe crowd in their cross hairs, as Sun Microsystems Inc et al are claiming, that’s because the Unix world is in jeopardy, Hitachi believes. Things are closing in. Windows NT is raising hell, and at the high-end the increased Unix API compatibility now offered in OS/390 makes it a good server consolidation platform, the company believes. Unix has its limitations, Hitachi says. The company says ACE/2’s copper process provides a six-to-seven times improvement in circuits and memory cell density over the aluminum-based ACE/1. ACE/1 has four instruction processors, system controller and 6Gb processor storage in one frame. ACE/2 can hold eight IPs, duplicated storage control modules each with double Skyline I’s system cache, and 64Gb memory in two banks or mirrored storage versus S/390’s 2Gb. Encryption compatible with IBM’s S/390 9672 mainframes will be available on Trinium in the first quarter of next year. Trinium can be configured with 512 paths and is targeted to support 320,000 I/O operations per second. Trinium supports 48 Ficon fibre channel connections and sports a virtual (non-hardware) internal coupling channel connecting partitions and the processor within the same Trinium server. Meanwhile, while the Unix vendors are still slugging it out trying to get to five nines system availability, Hitachi says IBM Parallel Sysplex’s theoretical 99.999% uptime is not high enough for it and has duplicated a swathe of Trinium technologies and functions in a bid to improve availability. Skylines have traditionally been around 15% more expensive than CMOS. Industry observers say that no matter how impressive Skyline2 is Hitachi won’t have the same runaway success it did with the first Skyline series. Moreover, the word on the street is that lots of big firms have bought an extra 50% of mainframe processing capacity to let them test their code on the same machine that they use in production, and when testing is done, all that capacity will be available for real work. That makes it difficult for any mainframe vendor to peddle new equipment. They say that if high-end mainframe prices have to drop to $2,500 – and they’re nowhere near that yet – it is hard to believe that anyone can make any money selling them.

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