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IBM Announces Its Most Powerful Computer Ever

January 26, 1987

NEW YORK (AP) _ International Business Machines Corp. announced its most powerful computer ever on Monday and revamped the rest of its 3090 series of mainframe machines.

The 3090 series consists of big computers that cost $1.65 million to $11.5 million.

Some analysts said the new computers would force price cuts by IBM’s competitors, possibly including Digital Equipment Corp., the successful maker of midsized computers that announced last week it was invading IBM’s profitable mainframe turf.

″IBM effectively neutralized the aggressive moves made by DEC. I think DEC must cut prices now on a product they haven’t even delivered,″ said Robert Fertig, president of Enterprise Information Systems.

″We feel we have a competitive price right now,″ Robert Glorioso, Digital’s vice president for high-performance systems, said in response to Fertig’s statement. He said Digital’s products were available now, ahead of IBM’s new products.

The biggest computer unveiled Monday, the 3090 Model 600E, has six processors and up to 60 percent more power than the previous top of IBM’s line, the company said. Analysts estimated it could execute 75 million to 80 million instructions per second, making it the most powerful commercially available computer.

The processor is the part of the computer that actually carries out calculations.

The first customers are likely to be airlines, banks and other companies that handle lots of transactions, analysts said.

″IBM is in perhaps as good a position as any to satisfy that demand, given only that the economy picks up so the users can afford to buy the extra power,″ said Donald Haback, an analyst for Nikko Securities Co. International.

In addition to the 3090 Model 600E, the company announced the Model 300, a somewhat smaller mainframe containing three processors, and improved versions of the four current members of its 3090 mainframe family.

IBM said the new computers would give a 25 to 36 percent improvement in the amount of computing power at any given price.

The upgrades will be completed starting in May and the new models, the 300E and 600E, will be available starting in the July-September period, IBM said.

IBM is the world’s largest computer company and has about 70 percent of the worldwide market for the big computers known as mainframes.

Last week Digital announced two clusters of its VAX computers that it said were as powerful as IBM’s own 3090 Models 200 and 400, which used to be the most powerful IBM mainframes.

But Fertig said the IBM computers could handle bigger jobs than the Digital computers because their processors work together more closely.

IBM’s mainframe business has been hurt by sluggish capital spending among its customers. Last week the company reported a 48.2 percent decline in its profit in the last three months of 1986.

IBM’s mainframe competitors include Unisys Corp., Honeywell Inc., Control Data Corp. and NCR Corp. as well as Amdahl Corp., which is 46 percent owned by Fujitsu Ltd., and National Advanced Systems, a unit of National Semiconductor Corp. that sells computers made by Hitachi Ltd.

″We think our products are competitive and have been all along,″ said Amdahl spokesman Rick Myllenbeck.

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