As expected (CI No 3,176), IBM Corp announced the fourth generation of its CMOS complementary metal oxide semiconductor- based mainframes yesterday. According to Linda Sanford, general manager of the System/390 division at IBM, the new generation represents the cross-over point between IBM’s existing bi-polar systems and CMOS technology (CI No 3,134). This announcement sets the road map for the next four years. This clearly marks the end of bi-polar for IBM, although we will build a few more bi- polar machines, she said, meaning more of what it already sells and not new models. The G4 systems have a uniprocessor performance of 63 MIPS, up to a maximum 10-way configuration delivering 450 MIPS in the ‘turbo’ RY4, which utilizes internal freon-derived cooling and chip sorting. There is also a 50 MIPS sub-uniprocessor. The new processors are based on a 0.28 micron design, compared with 0.35 in the G3 systems, and run at 375MHz. But how will IBM be able to get to above 80 MIPS mark, where Amdahl Corp’s newest CMOS-based IBM-compatibles live? IBM would only say it will improve internal cooling and chip-sorting techniques. The new systems – there are 14 models -are said to deliver performance increases of between 28% and 33% over G3 series systems and can support up to 16Gb RAM. IBM has also upgraded its OS/390 to version 2, into which it’s rolled about 20 products. There will be a slight price increase to take advantage of its new capabilities. It now includes IBM’s Component Broker toolkit and Connector distributed object technologies; Workload Manager; the Tivoli TME 10 Framework (but not applications); and a firewall. It’s also integrating Java Developer Kit 1.1 and is offering Net.Commerce and Net.Data packages for OS/390. IBM doesn’t give prices for its mainframe systems because it says its customer’s configuration requirements vary so much. It also presumably doesn’t want us to understand how much business it does on mainframes or give its competitors a leg-up on its pricing strategy. Where mainframes are concerned, any notion of open systems, open practices or an open company is a lot of phooey. What other industry could get away with not telling prospective customers what its products cost? Even more ridiculous is the fact that IBM refused to confirm or deny a price of $9,000 per MIPS for the new systems that it has been feeding to the market analysts it pre-briefed; nor would it confirm a price of $500,000 and up for the mainframes that found its way into a Wall Street Journal report published Monday.