Unisys Promises CMOS Production Beyond 2012

Won't force users to new Intel-based mainframes it rolled out last week

Unisys Corp. may be moving away from its mainframe CMOS chip, but company officials said last week that its users wont be forced to migrate to its new Intel-based systems.

The Blue Bell, Pa.-based vendor isnt setting a firm end date for its CMOS chip and promises to continue updating it beyond 2012, said Rod Sapp, director of the Unisys enterprise systems and storage group.

The plans to continue producing the CMOS chips came at the same time that the company unveiled the first ClearPath mainframes based on Intel Corp.s multicore Xeon processors.

No Forced March

Alan Lechtenberg, the technology manager with the infrastructure group at the University of Washington in Seattle, said he is pleased that Unisys isnt forcing customers to switch from its proprietary processor to the Intel chips.

The option to not have to move is pretty important to us, but I think in the end we will want to, Lechtenberg said.

The university has three ClearPath mainframes running CMOS processors that support its critical Cobol applications, including financial and payroll software. Some of the applications date back to the 1970s, Lechtenberg said.

In the long term, he said, the ability to run the proprietary Unisys MCP operating system on a Xeon-based mainframe will make it easier to integrate the universitys Cobol-based software with Windows and Linux applications. Such a configuration will also improve the performance and security of that integration, he added.

The Unisys ClearPath Dorado Series mainframe will start shipping in October

The Unisys ClearPath Dorado Series mainframe will start shipping in OctoberMeanwhile, Unisys unveiled two ClearPath Dorado 400 Series mainframes based on Intel dual-core Xeon 7100s. The new Dorado models, which are slated to start shipping in October, will run the Unisys OS 2200 operating system initially, the company said.

The vendor also introduced a ClearPath Libra Model 400 based on a quad-core Xeon 5300 chip. The new Libra model, which began shipping last week, can run both Windows and MCP simultaneously.

Sapp said that by 2010, all of the Unisys models based on Intel chips will support four operating systems the two proprietary Unisys offerings, Windows and Linux in virtualized environments.

Sapp noted that some of the larger OS 2200 users running transaction-intensive systems such as airline reservation applications may want to continue using the CMOS chip for a while.

However, he said he expects that the companys Intel-based systems will eventually meet the needs of most Unisys customers. Users will be able to move from the CMOS chip to Intel processors without recompiling, he noted.

Gordon Haff, an analyst at Illuminata Inc. in Nashua, NH., said the move to an Intel-based platform for its hardware follows a shift by Unisys to focus more on its services offerings. They couldnt afford to continue developing custom hardware for their mainframe installed base its a service company, he said.

The ClearPath Dorado 400 Series models are priced from about $200,000. Pricing options for the Libra Model 400 range from $32,000 to more than $200,000.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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