Conceptually, very little is not known about the forthcoming Silverlake successor to IBM’s System 36 and 38, but when it comes to model configurations and prices, few details have been published. However an add-on specialist, Mid-Range Products Inc in Deerfield Beach, Florida reckons it has unearthed significant flesh to put on the bones. Instead of System 40 or anything like that, it looks for the machine to come out in two model families as the AS/200 and AS/400, AS standing for Application System. They could however be known by the processor model numbers, and Mid-Range expects these to be 9384 and 9386. The 9384s, pitched at the same market as the current System 36s, are expected to come initially in two models, B10 and B20, packaged in the existing cabinet for the 5363 processor in the System 36 family. The B10 is expected to come with 4Mb to 8Mb memory and the B20 6Mb expandable to 12Mb. No guesses at prices for these, but a base of about $15,000 for the low-end CPU is likely to be necessary. The AS/400, Mid-Range believes, will use the 9386 CPU and come in four models – B30, B40, B50 and B60. Each will have a minimum eight input-output processors, three for communications adaptor; communications line; and tape support – and gossip has it that the communications line is for IBM engineers to monitor the machine under a remote Electronic Customer Support programme. Card Slot Extension Units will have take up to 10 Input-output Processors, and the Models 30 and 40 are expected to support one for a maximum of 18 I/O Processors, the 50, two and the 60, three. The B30 is expected to come with 4Mb and two memory slots for a maximum of 36Mb using 4Mb, 8Mb or 16Mb memory expansion cards. The B40 is expected to have 8Mb to 40Mb, the B50 16Mb expandable to 48Mb, and the B60, two 16Mb blocks base expandable to 96Mb. On performance, Mid-Range hears that the B30 matches the high-end System 36 5360 processor at 9,500 transactions an hour, the B40 at 12,500 transactions an hour, while the B50 should match the System 38 Model 700 and the B60 offer 1.75 times that machine. The System Support Program from System 36 is expected to run under the new operating system superset of Control Program Facility, CPF, from System 38: XPF is the suggested name and all SSP features such as tape support, communications, 3270 emulation are expected to be bundled in a single package. Seems IBM is saying that XPF 1.0 will be as solid and reliable as was SSP 1.0 on System 34 – but can it really be true that IBM has two thousand programmers working on Silverlake in Rochester. Software prices will be layered as they are now on the 370 side of the house. On pricing, a 9386 B30 is expected to sell for around $30,000 with 4Mb, and configured with five 9332 disks, tape drive and software, it is expected to be around $130,000. Seems that 9332 and 9335 disks will not be able to be mixed on the same system, and that the 9332 is the disk of choice for Silverlake. And the launch date? June 21 is the favourite date, although it could be any time from late May to June 28, with two more models in each line a year later. No firm shipment date, but it should be October at latest.
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