Unisys Intros New Intel Xeon-Based ClearPath Systems

The new Dorado and Libra servers will include a new fabric based on the Intel chips that will enable them to support Windows and Linux workloads.

Dorado, Libra servers

Unisys is getting ready to release a dozen new ClearPath high-end servers armed with a fabric architecture. These will be based on Intel's Xeon server processors and will enable users to run legacy applications based on the vendor's OS 2200 and MCP operating systems while also supporting Windows and Linux software.

The new architecture and systems are the latest steps in an effort Unisys began a decade ago to migrate its high-end Dorado and Libra mainframes, which make up the ClearPath line of systems, off of the aged CMOS processor and onto Intel x86 architecture to enable customers to take advantage of the performance gains and feature sets Intel has brought to the Xeon line of server chips. The move also would allow the company's customers, which include financial institutions, telecommunications vendors and transportation businesses, to run new applications on Unisys systems that they've grown comfortable with.

The new Dorado and Libra systems will do just that, according to Brian Herkalo, director of portfolio management for ClearPath at Unisys.

"This is one of the largest product launches Unisys has ever done," Herkalo told eWEEK. "The key is always performance."

The new Dorado systems—the high-end 6380 and 6390, mid-range 4380 and 4390, and entry-level 4350 and 4370—will continue running the OS 2200 operating system. The Libra systems—high-end 8380, 8390, 6380 and 6390, and mid-range 4380 and 4390—will still run the MCP OS. However, with Intel's Xeon E5-2600 v2 "Ivy Bridge" processors, the Dorado systems will offer up to four times the I/O performance of comparable servers powered by CMOS chips while using 90 percent fewer I/O processors, according to Unisys.

For the Libra systems, the top computing performance will be 55 percent better in the Intel-based servers than in those running on CMOS processors. The new ClearPath systems are able to take advantage of features in the Intel architecture that improve compute and I/O performance, including Data Direct I/O Technology and Advanced Programmable Interrupt Controller virtualization (APICv) features, Herkalo said.

Unisys software-based fabric architecture also leverages the vendor's s-Par technology to create a common platform that enables businesses to run their ClearPath applications along with Windows and Linux workloads. The s-Par technology is used to manage the workloads running on the ClearPath servers by creating a secure container that holds the necessary resources needed for each workload. The resources are dedicated to the application, which eliminates resource competition between workloads.

The new ClearPath systems will run either OS 2200 or MCP, but also will have specialty partitions to modernize the application environment and also will have a "Forward by Unisys" platform integrated via the fabric for Windows and Linux applications.

Unisys also is enabling customers to equip their new systems with its Stealth security software to protect against cyber-attacks and hackers. The software uses data protection and encryption techniques to make devices, users and data essentially undetectable on the network, according to Unisys officials.

The new systems, which will range in price from $325,000 to more than $5.6 million, will begin shipping this month, according to the company.

Unisys' Herkalo said the company is ahead of schedule in its migration to Intel, due in part to strides the chip maker has made in its processor technology and accompanying software. More than 10 years ago, Unisys initially intended to move its mainframe systems from its CMOS chips to Intel's Itanium processors, but made the move soon after to Xeon as the performance capabilities of the x86 chips began to ramp up.

Over the years, Unisys has continued to introduce new ClearPath servers powered by Xeon chips and has worked with Intel on the development of new technologies, including the announcement last year of an effort to create a secure computing platform to enable businesses to run Windows, Linux and Unix workloads on the same platform and to more easily migrate workloads from RISC-based environments to x86 systems.

By the end of next year, both the Dorado and Libra systems will be running completely on Xeon processors and the CMOS chip will no longer be used, according to Unisys.