IBM beefs up mainframe

The z9 more than doubles the maximum capability of Big Blue's previous high-end machine

IBM took the wraps off its System z9 mainframe last week, the first in a new generation of machines focused on easing security and systems management.

The z9 represents a $1.2 billion IBM development investment involving the work of 5,000 company engineers over a three-year period, said Erich Clementi, general manager of IBM Systems.

“The mainframe has joined the mainstream and is ready to collaborate,” Clementi said.

The new z9 machine can process one billion transactions per day, more than doubling the maximum capability of IBM’s previous high-end z990 mainframe.

The new machine also has twice the memory of the z990, a maximum of 512 gigabytes, and is a fully configured 54-way system compared to the z990’s 32-way system.

On the security front, data is being encrypted not only on the mainframe itself, but anywhere information is stored, including tapes. The z9 will also enable customers to centrally manage encryption keys, Clementi said.

At the center of the z9 is a newly designed MCM (multichip module), which IBM claims is the densest, most advanced chip and packing technology available in the marketplace.

The new mainframe features virtualization and workload management, which will allow customers to create thousands of virtual servers on a single system with a maximum of 60 logical hardware partitions, doubling the capability of the z990.

IBM also introduced Virtualization Engine 2.0, based on open interfaces and taking a building block approach to virtualization and Web servers. The software will link up not only to IBM systems, but also to some non-IBM server and storage systems.