"Other companies have de-invested in their chip architectures, taking things out of the system. We've invested in the platform. We just had our biggest quarter for MIPS [millions of instructions per second] shipped ever on this platform," said Jim Stallings, the new general manager of System z, referring to the System z9 mainframe during a teleconference Thursday.
A mainframe user may upgrade by adding the zIIP processor for $125,000. There will be no software charges associated with the data processor, Stallings said.
The zIIP processor comes on the heels of other specialty processors that IBM has been adding to the mainframe, including the zAAP processor made available in 2004 for speeding Java applications. The zIIP specialty processor will be available before the end of the year, but IBM officials would not be more specific.
In effect the mainframe operating system, zOS, recognizes workloads that come up in applications, such as ERP or CRM, that can be handled by specialized processors and routes those tasks to them. No alterations are needed in the software, Stallings said.
In a similar manner, the operating system and DB2 database have been tightly integrated to take advantage of the zIIP processor, freeing up general purpose computing cycles as data-intensive tasks are routed to the processor, Stallings said.
Bob Hoey, VP of worldwide sales, said IBM enjoyed a surge in mainframe-related revenue in the fourth quarter of 2005 that made it the highest quarter for such sales since the fourth quarter of 1998. It shipped the most MIPS or processing cycle capabilities on its mainframes in the fourth quarter in its history, he said.
Financial servers account for 65% of mainframe sales, and the financial service industry's emphasis on security and reliability are rekindling the mainframe's lease on life, he said. About 20% of mainframe sales are based on its ability to run multiple Linux systems. In some cases customers are consolidating as many as 600 Linux/Intel servers into a single mainframe running Linux virtual machines, he said.