IBM is getting ready to unleash T Rex, its next-generation mainframe that initially will include 32 chips and such on-demand features as processor on/off capabilities.
The eServer z990 system, which will be introduced on Tuesday and available next month, will be upgraded over the next year, growing to 64 chips by 2004 and from 15 partitions in the z/OS operating system to 60.
IBMs largest current mainframe computer is the 16-way z900.
Gordon Haff, an analyst with Illuminata Inc., said the release of the z990 comes during a "renaissance" for mainframes, which are expanding beyond their niche by offering new capabilities, such as running Linux and Java 2 Enterprise Edition, supporting Web services standards and offering such features as the on/off processing capabilities, a key part of the companys on-demand computing push. IBM has been rolling out the on/off feature, which enables users to pay for only the processing power that they use, in its Unix-based pSeries servers.
IBMs mainframes run Red Hat Inc.s Linux, and late last month SuSE Linux AG started shipping SuSE Linux Enterprise Server 7 for the zSeries.
In March, IBM announced it was bringing grid computing capabilities to its line of mainframe systems. Officials said grid computing companies DataSynapse Inc. and Platform Computing Inc. were making their grid computing products available on the zSeries line.
"Though [mainframes are] still a really specialized device, there are roles its playing outside the traditional mainframes," said Haff, in Nashua, N.H.
Another example will be when Unisys Corp., another mainframe player, next week introduces new systems built for Web services.
IBM did not return a call for comment.
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