IBM to release specialized mainframe chip for ERP, CRM apps

The System z9 Integrated Information Processor will cost $125,000

IBM later this year will release a specialty chip for its z9 mainframe that's designed to handle the workloads of business intelligence, ERP and CRM applications.

The new chip, the System z9 Integrated Information Processor (zIIP), which will cost $125,000, follows specialty IBM mainframe chips for Linux and Java workloads released in 2001 and 2004, respectively. The zIIP chip will be available sometime this year, but IBM officials today were not able to offer more details on a release date.

The reason a company might want to use a mainframe specialty processor "is fundamentally economics," said Jerry Murphy, an analyst at Robert Francis Group in Westport, Conn. Specialty mainframe processors allow users to offload workloads that might otherwise run on the mainframe's general-purpose chips.

IBM isn't applying software costs to workloads that run on the specialty processor, unlike its practice with a mainframe's general-purpose chip. "You're saving all those MIPS charges that would be associated with having them on a general-purpose processor," said Murphy.

Colette Martin, IBM program director, said that users can run CRM, ERP and BI applications in a distributed environment and use the specialty processor to connect with the mainframe and DB2 data running on it. Or they can move those applications to the mainframe.

IBM also said that it would be releasing a new version of DB2 for the z/OS operating system sometime this year. It will include enhanced XML, WebSphere and Java integration, new security features and other enhancements.

Charles King, an analyst at PundIT Inc. in Hayward, Calif., said IBM is moving the mainframe from its traditional transaction role into more Web-enabled types of processes. "The value proposition that IBM is pushing [is] that creating these new processors to deal with specific Web-based and network-based applications will help improve performance."

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