Amdahl unveils high-end CMOS mainframe models

Amdahl Corp. last week rolled out a new line of mainframes that provide high-end capacity using the latest generation of mainframe processing technology.

Amdahl's Millennium 700 Series Servers, released two months ahead of schedule, are the company's newest and largest models based on CMOS processors, which first entered the market several years ago.

While using CMOS processors makes it possible to build mainframes that cost less to buy and maintain, vendors only now are delivering systems more powerful than the mainframes built using the older, bipolar processing technology.

The Millennium 700 Series, using the latest CMOS processors, can provide up to 686 million instructions per second of capacity by using a new 80 MIPS CMOS processor in a 12-way configuration, according to Amdahl.

"At 686 MIPS, this is the highest-performing, highest-capacity engine of any CMOS processor," John Roberts, Amdahl's director of strategic marketing said. "This makes it about 54 percent faster than the current CMOS products" from IBM Corp. and Hitachi Data Systems.

"We expect our product to be popular among those bipolar previous-generation machines such as the IBM 9021, Amdahl's 5995 and Hitachi's GX800," Roberts said. "Prior to the availability of the new product, the only option customers had was to purchase Hitachi Skyline machines, which usually sold at a premium price."

Roberts said the new mainframe "gives the federal government the option of upgrading and adding capacity without paying premium price."

Gartner Group analyst Mike Chuba said the new mainframe series puts Amdahl back in competition after going a year without a new product. "Amdahl is back in the game.... They were basically at a performance disadvantage to IBM and Hitachi Data Systems," Chuba said. "With this announcement, they have temporarily leapfrogged ahead of their competition."

Although Amdahl has a six-month edge in terms of engine performance, the lead is temporary because IBM will be introducing its mainframe version in the fall, "and they will jump in front of Amdahl in terms of engine speed," Chuba said.

"However, Amdahl will hold the edge in the area of systems capacity through the end of the year and into 1999," he added. "Older mainframes topped out at 450 to 500 MIPS of capacity. None of the other CMOS machines delivered to date could give those users the room for growth that this machine offers."

Amdahl also announced the Millennium 500E models with a multigeneration package that can be upgraded to the newer, faster CPUs of the 700 Series by exchanging the system board and related components.

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