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September 10, 1990


By CBR Staff Writer

Despite some long lead times, Hitachi Data Systems believes that IBM’s System/390 software announcements are excellent and very much what customers have been crying out for. The plug-compatible manufacturer is less complimentary about the new ES/9000 hardware offerings, although it does approve of one uniform architecture, and says that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. The company also likes second level cache at system level on the Summit 820 and 900 machines, but points out that it is the equivalent of Hitachi’s dynamic working storage. However, it claims that both second level cache and the new 1Gb main storage are only half of what is available on Hitachi machines. Consequently, Peter Robinson, Hitachi Data Systems’ director of large systems marketing, believes that users are going to be disappointed with IBM’s new mainframes. Apart from the 820 and 900, they are essentially reworked 3090s with no second level cache, an unimpressive MIPS rating, and the 330 upwards still require expensive and inconvenient water cooling. He’s more enthusiastic about the dyadic 440 and 480 machines which are air-cooled and estimated at between 30 MIPS and 40 MIPS. However, for the low-end 330 uniprocessor, rated at 23 MIPS, Robinson has nothing but scorn. He says that a 23 MIPS water-cooled machine is a remnant of technology that rightly belongs to the early 1980s. Robinson also casts some light on those mysterious 15T, 17T, 18T, 25T, and 28T machines that IBM has tucked away in the middle of the ES9000 family with precious little explanation or guidance. Remember the 170J and 170JH announcements last October when IBM boosted low-end 3090s with PR/SM support, and then promised availability in the third quarter of 1990? For JH read T – they are one and the same. So, if a user has an installed J machine with the equivalent JH announced, will he be able to migrate to the 9000 series without going via the T models? Probably not, but at least it looks like an attempt to clear up some of the mess at the low-end. All in all, Robinson says that the mainframe announcements are a bit of a non-event with the exception of those distant 900 and 820 machines. But he acknowledges that it is a family and even if the upgrade path is inflexible, users can push for incentives, especially if they are prepared to commit to an 820. As regards the software, he says he is encouraged by IBM’s plans, and is delighted by its adoption of optical channels. He likes the flexibility of Escon, Enterprise Systems Connection Architecture, which provides the ability to transmit information over nearly six miles at 10Mbytes-per-second, even if it has to be done in 10,000 foot hops via two repeaters. Sysplex, which synchronises the clocks of up to eight machines, he describes as a big step towards full coupling. Nonetheless, like everyone else, Robinson is perplexed by the new chip technology in the Summit machines. We know that they are bigger and have two ECL circuits on each module, but what is Differential Current Switch technology? Robinson points out that it is all rather academic. Which is quite true since most users don’t care if the things run on tennis balls – so long as they provide a speedy and effective performance.

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