HDS introduces high-endfault-tolerant mainframes

Hitachi Data Systems Corp. today announced a line of mainframe systems targeted at large enterprises that require a high degree of fault tolerance.

The Hitachi Skyline Trinium, which at 3,200 million instructions per second (MIPS) has twice the processing power of its predecessor, is the first System 390 mainframe box based on copper rather than silicon chip technology, according to HDS. The mainframe runs on the company's ACE/2 copper-based chip technology, which uses less power, generates less heat and performs better than older processor technology.

"The product provides the basis for nonstop, fault-tolerant, large-scale environments," said Bill Tudor, director of systems architecture at HDS. "Users can do this with only one machine installed. That's an exclusive capability of this platform. That...has a dramatic impact on cost and simplicity and provides a rock-solid environment for electronic commerce."

The Trinium will be capable of reaching about 3,200 MIPS when configured with 16 instruction processors. The system will support up to 64G of memory and up to 512 channels.

HDS added other features to the machine to make it well-suited for a mission-critical environment. "What we've discovered is that customers need more than just a bigger box," Tudor said. "The No. 1 issue [that users] are dealing with is complete and total availability. We built the box to be fault-tolerant and fail-safe."

For example, all critical components either have a spare replacement or are redundant. Broken parts can be replaced in the machine without having to bring down the entire system. HDS also plans to offer a service to remotely reconfigure the hardware configuration of virtual servers.

This feature allows customers to compartmentalize processing capacity within one system so that multiple workloads can be managed individually. If a user has more than one virtual server, the servers can be clustered using HDS' IntraPlex technology.

Current Skyline users such as the Social Security Administration and the Internal Revenue Service should be interested in the new Trinium line, Tudor said. "I think the thing that would be most attractive is the sheer size and performance [of the Trinium] because of the amount of processing [that agencies] do."

"This is going to be a great disaster-recovery machine because automatically it will be bigger than what the [disaster-recovery vendors] offer," said Doug Moore, vice president of Vion Corp., which resells HDS products to federal agencies. "Nothing would slow down when it recovers to the [Trinium]."

Vion plans to offer the Trinium off its General Services Administration schedule. The 12-processor Trinium is scheduled to ship in the third quarter of this year, and the 16-processor machine is scheduled to ship by March 2000.

The Trinium is "a great product," said David Floyer, president of IT Impact. "People want products that are faster. There will be some Skyline customers that will want to upgrade, and that seems to be a good idea."

However, within nine months or so the Trinium will be eclipsed in speed and most likely in price by IBM Corp.'s next release, Floyer said. "If users can wait for [the IBM machine], they will wait for it," he said.

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