Unisys Completes ClearPath System Migration to Intel Architecture

The high-end Dorado 8300 Series represents the culmination of Unisys' efforts to transition its servers from CMOS chips to Intel's Xeon processors.

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Unisys more than a decade ago began an effort to transition its high-end Dorado and Libra mainframe systems from the aging CMOS processors and onto Intel's x86-based architecture, enabling its customers to run modern applications on increasingly powerful Xeon chips.

May 20, Unisys announced the new ClearPath Dorado 8300 Series of servers, the last step in the migration of the ClearPath systems—comprising the Dorado and Libra lines—to the Intel Architecture. The new systems are powered by Xeon chips and are designed to run mission-critical workloads, from traditional applications like online transaction processing to newer real-time data analytics tasks using SAP HANA in-memory technology.

The Dorado 8300 systems protect customers' earlier investments by being able to run applications written for earlier Intel- and CMOS-powered Dorado servers without having to be modified, according to Unisys. Many customers have invested millions in their Unisys environments, which are tasked with running crucial mission-critical applications. While they want to run more modern workloads, not many are willing to spend the money needed to switch their infrastructures over to another vendor's hardware.

"The ClearPath architectural transition [to Intel] is both a singular achievement and a new beginning," Jim Thompson, chief engineer for Unisys and the person who oversaw the 10-year effort, said in a statement. "The Dorado 8300 Series and our other Intel-based ClearPath systems provide clients with an open, secure computing environment that maximizes their long-term investment in mission-critical software."

In addition, the core of the new ClearPath systems is Unisys' software-based fabric architecture, which has "laid the foundation for software-defined data centers that give our clients extraordinary flexibility to integrate new solutions as quickly as their business needs change," Thompson said.

Unisys' newest systems come two weeks after Intel launched its latest high-end server chips, the Xeon E7 v3 processors that are designed for data analytics and other compute-intensive workloads. Officials with the chip maker also said the chips will further accelerate the declining market share of such RISC platforms like IBM's Power and Oracle's SPARC. CMOS also is a victim of Intel's increasingly powerful x86 chips.

The new Dorado 8300 servers offer better compute performance than the CMOS-based 800 Series—Unisys' previous top-of-the-line offerings—while delivering up to four times the networking and I/O performance, according to company officials. They also offer almost 50 percent more performance than the Dorado 6300 Series, which had been Unisys' fastest Intel-based models.

Unisys' fabric infrastructure includes a high-speed interconnect to link all the compute components, while the vendor's secure partitioning (s-Par) software manages the workloads on the system. The new Dorado 8300 systems run the ClearPath OS 2200 operating environment that includes 110 software products. In addition, they also run the Forward by Unisys platform that enables Linux and Windows workloads to run. Each system can support up to 28 Forward nodes with 30 partitions each, enabling up to 840 workloads to run at the same time.

The new systems also can work in clusters that include earlier Intel- and CMOS-based and Intel- and fabric-based Dorado servers.

Company executives also noted specialty partitions that enable businesses to keep the application environment up-to-date. Among the specialty partitions are the Clear Path ePortal for OS 2200, which allows for multi-tier, Web and mobile applications.

The company said Dorado 8300 systems will be available May 29.