As expected (CI Nos. 3,153 and 3,116), Hitachi Data Systems Corp will announce an enhanced processor for its Skyline range of hybrid CMOS/bi-polar (complementary metal oxide semiconductor) mainframes today. The uniprocessor will perform 150 MIPS (millions of instructions per second), compared to the 124 MIPS processor in existing models. There are six new high-end Skyline models, yielding a maximum 975 MIPS in the 8-way configuration. In addition, three ‘slugged’ machines will be announced, bringing HDS’ Skyline range to 19 models. These low-end Skyline machines are targeted at the last group of mainframe users that have yet to move from pure bi-polar machines – IBM 9021-H5 or equivalent machines. These users, around 150 in the UK and 750 in Europe, have fallen in the gap between the pure CMOS (IBM’s 9672, Hitachi’s Pilot and Amdahl’s Millennium ranges) and the hybrid Skyline CMOS/bi-polar system. CMOS has been unable to match, let alone improve on, the performance of the older bi-polar systems so far. IBM’s current Generation 3 9672 offers 45 MIPS, with a 60 MIPS uniprocessor expected to be announced in the Summer. This compares with 60 MIPS uniprocessor delivered in the final generation of bi-polar systems in 1994. But the processing needs of these users have remained less than the previous Skyline entry-level model.
The slugged Skylines will be available in 80 MIPS, 100 MIPS and 124 MIPS configurations and will fall just below the upper limit of IBM’s software pricing groups. Entry-level Skylines are available in June, while the other models will be ready in the first quarter of next year. As well as the Skyline enhancements, HDS will also unveil additions to its Pilot range and hardware- based Year 2000 products. There are 13 new Pilot models, using IBM’s 60 MIPS engine, as well as four new entry level models. All are available from next month. There will also a PC File Server Card available for the Pilot range from October that will enable the Pilot to be attached directly to the LAN. In the third strand of the announcement, HDS is looking to capitalize on the need to test the Year 2000-compliance of mainframe applications with the announcement of the HDS Run Time eXtensions (RTX) environment. Research companies such as the Gartner Group have estimated that the mainframe market will increase by 30% in terms of processing power just to carry out the correcting and testing associated with the Year 2000 problem. Once all this testing has been completed, probably sometime around 2001, companies will have considerable spare capacity on their hands. As a result, analysts are predicting that the mainframe hardware market will plateau in terms of MIPS shipped and shrink in terms of revenues. The RTX environment, which is available for both Pilot and Skyline ranges, initially features two products – HDS RTX Time Machine and HDS RTX Time Warp, available in the third and fourth quarters respectively. Time Machine will trap two digit year date fields in the processor and log them out to disk, where utilities will be run to check and correct the figures. Time Warp is a bridging product that helps companies to run non-compliant applications after the Year 2000 deadline, says Douglas. According to the Gartner Group, less than 50% of mainframe sites will have completed all Year 2000 work by December 31, 1999. Time Warp will dynamically condition date filed data according to customer parameters. For example, a user can specify that a hundred should be added where the result of a date calculation is negative. As both products work at the machine level, there is no requirement for the application’s source code, which is missing in many companies. The company is also looking to use the products for testing applications for economic monetary union (EMU) compliance.