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April 20, 1987


By CBR Staff Writer

On both sides of the Atlantic, IBM is frantically trying to plug leaks on its forthcoming successors to the System 36 and System 38 families, and if you call up your friendly neighbourhood source on the RPG lines, chances are you’ll find him or her uncharacteristically tight-lipped. The reason is that the line – and particularly the System 36, has attracted so much disparaging comment that users are hesitating about moving up the upgrade path and enabling the salespeople to make their ambitious targets on the current machines. Talk about the successor line, code-named Silverlake by most observers these days (it was once called Fort Knox when it involved coalescence with the 4300 line) and in development at Rochester, Minnesota, is also causing users to hesitate about taking the existing machines in case they find they want to move direct to the new ones as soon as they are available, so IBM is desperately enlisting every spare finger to plug the spurts coming out of the dyke. But before the boom really came down, a US research firm, ADM Inc of Cheshire, Connecticut, published the state of play as of a month or so ago, and at that point, the new machines were scheduled to begin appearing at the beginning of next year. ADM is going for the expected rack-mounted versions of System 38 to be the ones that also run the System 36 System Support Facility under the System 38 Control Program Facility in emulation mode – but this facility may also be offered on other 38s. The Silverlake machines are expected to support the new 9332 and 9335 disk drives announced for System 38 last summer, and to support the 3480 tape drive while IBM gets its act together on optical disk drives for mid-range systems. More importantly, the machines, or some models, are expected to offer a channel-to-channel facility running at perhaps 5 Mbits-per-second for direct connection to other Silverlakes, or to 9370s mounted in the same rack, achieving the aim of the original idea of the combined 38/4300 machine in a less complex form. Also widely expected is a new top-end System 38 above the Model 700, offering 64Mb to 128Mb of main memory (IBM has to find more and more uses for its 1Mbit memory chip to keep those New England production lines busy) – and further enhancements to System 36. But the Silverlake family is forecast by ADM to grow to the point where it matches the performance of the current 3090/200, justifying the faith of those who believe that System 38 and its integrated relational database add up to a much better transaction processing combination than System 370 and DB2 will ever be.

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