A byproduct of IBM’s Year of the Customer that has passed almost unnoticed until now is a model in the 3090 mainframe line that went onto the RPQ – Request Price Quotation – list on October 1 in the US. Our US associate Technology News of America notes that the 3090-280E differs from the 200E in that it is two 3090 180Es linked by the 3092 controller where the 200E is two 180E processors in the same box. The key difference from the point of view of the user is that while the 200E runs only single image, the 280E can be operated either single image under a single copy of the operating system, or partitioned into two 180Es, and can be switched from one configuration to the other as need dictates. The concept was first offered by IBM with the 3084, which could be run as a single image four-processor complex, or as two 3081Ks. In the latter case, one side could be running the production workload under one copy of MVS/XA while a new release was being tested on the other side, or MVS could be run on one side while VM ran on the other – perhaps hosting Unix. Either way, the machine counts as a single system for software licence purposes, which in many cases can make it much more economical to run that two 180Es. When run single image, the 280E is rated at 1.7 to 1.9 times the 3090-180E. The 3090-280E is confined to two base configurations – users can either take a system with 128Mb 64Mb on either side, and no Expanded Memory, for $5.144m, or a system with 64Mb – 32Mb per side, and 128Mb of Expanded Memory. That costs $5.414m. Both configurations come with a total of 48 channels, and both will be available in the second quarter. The 3090-280E can be upgraded only to a 400E – adding a second processor to either side, or to a six-CPU 600E, but not to a 3090-300E. As an RPQ, the 280E will generally be brought to the attention only of customers who are wavering over the standard model in the product line, and its existence underlines the extent to which, in these straitened times, IBM is prepared to go out of its way to meet the demands of its choosier customers. IBM UK says that the machine is also available in the UK, but does not have any prices for it as yet.