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Technology / AI and automation


ICL this week takes a major step forward in its long-term effort to rationalise and integrate its disparate product lines by accompanying those enhanced models of the DM1 processor for lower-end Series 39 mainframes (CI No 702) with a new entry model that will replace the ME29 in the product line. The announcement is to be made in the UK tomorrow but has already been made by some of ICL’s continental subsidiaries. The original Series 39/30, and the slugged 39/20 version introduced last year, are replaced by a more powerful implementation of the 8,000 gate CMOS array processor designed by ICL and fabricated by Fujitsu, which comes in four models. The new entry point is the 39/15, rated at 0.9 MIPS, with 8Mb or 16Mb of memory and support for 120 users. The 39/25 replaces the 39/20 and offers 40% better price-performance; it is rated at 1.1 MIPS and supports a typical 160 users. The 39/35 replaces the 39/30, again offering 40% better price-performance; it is rated at 1.5 MIPS and suports up to 220 users. Users of the 39/20 and 39/30 can field-upgrade to the new models. A novelty at the lower end of the line is the 39/35D, the first tightly-coupled dual processor in the line; each processor has its own memory – for a maximum of 32Mb, but both are installed in a single cabinet and run under one copy of VME. Rated at 2.7 MIPS and supporting 400 users, the 35D slots in just below the 39/50, which is rated at 3.0 MIPS. The new machines use 50Mbps fibre optic links to connect disk drives incorporating CAFS/ISP hardware search processors to the main CPU. On the software front, ICL has enhanced VME with simplifications to ease the pain of migration for ME29 users, notably a new SAMP Systems Administrator Menu Prompter user interface so that operators do not need to learn VME all at once. The CME* emulation mode for ME29 Exec and TME is also of course supported. ICL is pitching the new machines against the IBM 9370 and System 38 and the DEC VAX 8800, and claims better price-performance.

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