Responding to a steady demand from its corporate customers, IBM in the first half of 1999 will deliver technology that allows IT shops to dedicate sets of chips in multiprocessor versions of its AS/400 to run multiple businesses from a single system.
The ability to logically partition a 12-way AS/400 server for instance, would let users split those 12 chips into three four-way systems that could run either three distinct parts of their operations or even three different businesses located in the same number of countries.
For each set of partitioned chips, however, users would have to run a separate copy of the OS/400 operating system.
Users would also be able to dedicate other hardware resources such as memory and storage to different businesses. Users have the option of holding back those resources in reserve and dedicating them as the need arises. They could do so without having to repartition the CPUs, according to Ian Jarman, marketing manager of server consolidation for IBM's AS/400 group, in Minnesota.
"It is larger customers in banking and insurance both here and in Europe, who have traditionally driven the AS/400's performance growth.
"They are the ones telling us they need this," Jarman said at the AS/400 semi-annual user conference, called Common.
"It is also part of a growing trend towards server consolidation."
Users will not have to rewrite their existing applications in order to take advantage of the new capability, Jarman said.
Separately, in his keynote address to open this year's con- ference, Tom Jarosh, general manager of IBM's AS/400 Division laid out a timetable for delivery of key hardware technologies to be incorporated into the AS/400 through 2001.
By late 1999 or early 2000, IBM will deliver models containing its next generation PowerPC chip, code-named Pulsar, that will have copper connections allowing it run 40 per cent faster than today's models.
Those next-generation systems will also include IBM's recently announced Silicon On Insulator (SOI), essentially a method of protecting millions of transistors on a chip by wrapping it in a "blanket" of insulation.
This blanket cuts down on the potential harmful electrical effects that can rob chips of performance, company officials said.
SOI could add another 35 per cent to a system's performance. Jarosh said the company now has a version with SOI running in a 16-way configuration in its Rochester labs.
Finally, IBM will deliver its Gigaprocessor chip, the next-generation Power 4 processor, sometime in 2001. In the 2001 to 2002 time frame, IBM will be selling models of the AS/400 that will sport as many as 32 processors, half a terabyte of real-time memory, and 6 TB of storage.
IBM also plans to release a significantly enhanced version of DB/2 for the AS/400 next spring and, in keeping with other IBM server divisions, will rename that version the Universal Data Base (UDB).