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  1. Technology
March 26, 1996


By CBR Staff Writer

From Dave Weber,Manager of AS/400 Competitive Analysis & Marketing Department IBM AS/400 Division, Rochester, Minnesota

Your January 30 story titled IBM’s Benchmarks on PowerPC AS/400s Show it to be Under Threat From NT on Pentium Pro (CI No 2,840) omits important evidence that shows AS/400 to provide the industry’s best value, particularly as it compares with NT. The article’s premise is that AS/400 is under threat from NT on Compaq Pentium Pro. The respected Aberdeen Group disagrees, noting in a January 15, 1996 report that an NT Server-based OLTP information infrastructure will cost $1,700 – $2,700 more per client in computer hardware alone than an AS/400 solution. In fact, Aberdeen says that Compaq ProLiant 4500 running NT costs more than $10m in additional PC cost over a period of five years than AS/400. Aberdeen concluded that it cannot see where AS/400 users would gain a cost-based or production- application technology advantage by changing to BackOffice. These conclusions are reinforced by the independent Client/Server Labs, which recently tested AS/400 Advanced Server (model 50S), a system based on 64-bit PowerPC technology. In the RPMark95 benchmark measuring realistic client/server workloads, AS/400 eclipsed previous RPMark95 ratings for Compaq, Digital Equipment and NEC systems, running Microsoft NT, by almost 40%. Certified performance results for tests conducted at Client/Server Labs verified that AS/400 Advanced Server (model 50S) with a 2120 processor achieved an RPMark95 rating of 431.9 at $186/RPMark95. In addition, Advanced Server (model 50S) with a 2121 processor achieved a 485.4 RPMark95 rating at $196/RPMark95. We are also now in a position to announce that IBM has just recorded the industry’s best ever TPC-C rating for a single-processor system, beating all other systems, including DEC Alpha and Sun UltraServer. The audited TPC-C benchmark measurements show that AS/400 Advanced Server (model 53S) with a 2154 processor can handle 1,496 TPM (transactions per minute) at $391/TPM. In light of these evaluations and studies, the writer’s remarks about our extremely conservative RISC performance estimates are surprising. Especially when one considers that AS/400 has promised and delivered on a compound growth rate of 70% performance boosts since 1991. The author also wrongly suggests that AS/400 is expensive. Studies from reputable consultancies such as IDC contradict that opinion. IDC found that AS/400 is 12% less expensive to own than HP 9000, and is a better value than selected PC LAN and DEC systems. Even DEC’s new Alpha AXP servers are 14% more expensive than AS/400 because of their high software costs. Finally, the article mistakenly identifies the PowerPC A10 microprocessor as having been stripped of SMP. Actually, the A10 was specifically implemented as a three-way, superscalar uni-processor for all but the largest AS/400 systems. The largest AS/400 systems use the A30, a four-way superscalar processor. Clearly, we are quite proud of the way we blend our traditional strengths of reliability and simplicity with industry-leading price-performance. Our customers continue to recognize this extraordinary value proposition as we now offer them AS/400 systems and applications based on fast 64-bit PowerPC RISC technology – another feature NT hasn’t been able to deliver on.

(Those reading the letter above, may find the concept he raises of symmetric multiprocessing within a single microprocessor stirs disconcerting echoes of the sound of one hand clapping, but hey, what can we tell you – we just print the letters we receive)

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