IBM has announced the next generation of AS/400 systems, due to ship this month, and provided a glimpse of future chip technology slated to further boost the server's performance by late next year or early 2000.
IBM officials here released a torrent of details on the release this month of the new versions of models 170, S40, and 650 servers, which benefit from the company's fourth-generation 64-bit processor, code-named Northstar, as well as Version 4, Release 3 of OS/400, the operating system required to support the new processor.
"We're in our fourth generation after coming up with a 64-bit solution, when our key competitors are only just getting there," said Drew Flaada, IBM's AS/400 project manager, referring to other Unix system vendors' 64-bit development as well as Intel's now-delayed Merced chip running on Windows NT.
AS/400 models S40 and 650 boast a near-twofold performance improvement, the doubling of memory capacity to 40GB, and a 40 per cent increase in Direct Access Storage Device (DASD) storage capacity to 2.1TB. Meanwhile, the model 170 has received a 140 per cent performance improvement and now incorporates a top memory capacity of 3.58GB and maximum DASD storage of 175GB, according to IBM.
The upgrades also sport ease-of-use improvements, expanded systems and network management capabilities, better Windows support, database performance boosts, broader application development options, and Java and Web-specific improvements.
In the future, AS/400 performance will be increased further by recently announced IBM chip advances, including copper interconnects for silicon wafers and silicon-on-insulator (SOI) technologies, according to Jim Pertzborn, vice president of server and workstation development.
The forthcoming Northstar chip and OS/400 Version 4, Release 3-based server includes significantly faster query performance and data load rates for data warehousing than earlier systems, according to Pertzborn, who cited IBM benchmarks of 35 seconds to query 225GB of data and 18 hours to load a 1TB data warehouse.