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April 15, 1994

IBM HOPES TO CONVINCE MAJOR COMMERCIAL USERS THAT PARALLEL UNIX PROCESSING IS REALLY FOR THEM

By CBR Staff Writer

After leading everyone a dance of the seven veils for the last few weeks, IBM Corp equated the unveiling last week of its new parallel servers, both System/390s and RISC-based PowerParallels, with its historic System 360 roll-out way back in April 1964. The next-generation PowerParallel machine, the SP2, which IBM intends to move more deeply in commercial accounts for executive decision support, local network consolidation, centralised management of distributed systems and data mining in financial, investment, research, banking, insurance and retail. The new models scale from four to 128 nodes, with wide and thin-node combinations and a choice of 62.3MHz Power and 66MHz Power2 processors. It claimed the new Power2 processors provide twice the processing power of current systems, eight times the memory and four times the bandwidth, a characteristic attributed to a new High Performance Switch and Adaptors. It calculated a 128-node system at 34 GFLOPS peak. It can handle 256Gb internal and 1,024Gb storage. The wide-node option offers seven input-output and network slots, 8Gb storage and 2Gb of memory per node. The thin-node option offers four slots, 4Gb storage and 512Mb of memory per node. Customers can choose combinations depending on their needs for compute or server engines. Full versions of AIX/6000 will run on each node, lending it high availability. (IBM found its new microkernel AIX was too big to fit). There is an integrated parallel development environment, full parallel job scheduling, a parallel file system and a set of tools supporting parallel database implementations. The boxes will get a Parallel Edition of the company’s DB2 AIX/6000 software, now in beta test, later this year. There are now 65 independent software vendors writing software for the stuff and support for Oracle, Sybase, CICS, Tuxedo, SAP R/3 and Quantum Leap is in the works. IBM priced an entry-level eight-node thin-node system at $398,000. A more typical 12-processor box for commercial use with four wide and eight thin nodes, 768Mb of memory, 12Gb of disk and system software would go for $685,000. It claims to have the best price-performance ratio in the business. The system co-exists and shares workloads with System/390, the S/390 Transaction Server and S/390 Query Parallel Server.

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