IBM is set to revitalise the 4381 mid-range mainframe family tomorrow, but the grapevine is evenly divided between performance boosts and price cuts, although since press and analysts have been invited, both are likely to be included. A new top-end machine, possibly dubbed the Model 15, may also be unveiled; it could be a four-processor model, taking the concept of the 3084Q and 3090/400 down to the mid-range – IBM is known to have run MVS successfully over an eight-processor 4381 configuration. Some enhancements to the VM and MVS operating systems may well accompany the hardware show, as IBM continues its effort to entice users away from DOS/VSE toward VM and MVS. The bulk of the announcement will be identical worldwide, but some sources speculate that an additional processor product will be announced in Europe, with possible later announcement in the US. That machine would be a baby 3090, designed to make the 3090 line’s current low end, the model 150, look like more of a mainstream computer. As IBM revises its mid-range, it may quietly withdraw some support for the superseded 308X line. Among the likely possibilities are dropping the 308X line from the price list, ending the sale of upgrades, and changing the way spare parts are marketed. At the tail end of the 3033 generation, IBM not only took the machines off its price list, it also sold off parts, features, and upgrade kits in large lots to third parties. A similar action to clear out its direct interest in the 308X mainframe line would therefore have a precedent in recent IBM history.
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