IBM: Making Mainframes Sexy Again

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Yesterday’s introduction of IBM’s new System z10 mainframe shone the spotlight on the mainframe’s potential to save power and space in the enterprise data center. The new system is part of a $300 million investment by IBM in architects, technical skills, as design and benchmarking centers to help clients transform their legacy data centers.

“We think that we’re at a fundamental inflection point in our industry in terms of the evolution of information technology,” said Steve Mills, senior vice president and group executive of software at IBM.

IBM says the z10 is designed to be up to 50 percent than its predecessor, the z9, with up to 70 percent more capacity – the equivalent of about 1,500 x86 servers. The z10 has a 4.4-GHz quad-core processor, compared with a 1.7-GHz single-core processor for the three-year-old z9.


Here’s a roundup of coverage of IBM’s announcement:

  • ComputerWorld noted IBM’s description of the z10 as a “commercial supercomputer” as well as its pricetag (which could exceed $1 million for some customers) and cited a Forrester analyst’s belief that there is pent-up demand for the z10.
  • The Register: “Despite industry chatter which predicts mainframe computing will soon be a thing of the past, (IBM) has in fact seen revenue in that sector climb 18 per cent in the last year.”
  • Network World: “IBM spent $1.5 billion and five years developing the z10, and was bullish on the results, calling it the ‘most sophisticated piece of information technology ever built for any purpose.’”
  • InternetNews.com: “With the new mainframe, IBM aims to expand into a request-driven server environment, with an operating system that anticipates an increased workload based on the ebb and flow of the business cycle and provisions resources accordingly.”

About the Author

Rich Miller is the founder and editor at large of Data Center Knowledge, and has been reporting on the data center sector since 2000. He has tracked the growing impact of high-density computing on the power and cooling of data centers, and the resulting push for improved energy efficiency in these facilities.