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IBM ships next-gen mainframe

Z9 from outer space?

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IBM started shipping the new z9 mainframe on Friday, squarely aiming the machines at larger enterprises.

The z9, the cunningly-named ninth generation of the z-series of mainframe, is built specifically with security in mind. It boasts intrusion detection systems, encryption key management and a cryptography accelerator that can perform up to 6,000 SSL handshakes a second.

IBM says companies want mainframes to help them manage complex corporate issues, like protecting customer data, and complying with an increasingly stringent regulatory climate.

"There's a groundswell of interest from businesses and governments around what the new class of mainframes can do," said Erich Clementi, general manager, IBM System z9. "From a technical perspective, the mainframe's deep commitment to Java, Linux, virtualization and SOA are driving adoption."

The machine is capable of a billion transactions every day, IBM boasts, and at the top end, a z9 would come decked out with 54 chips and 18 billion transistors. Expect to pay a cool million dollars for an entry-level version.

Analysts suggest that the z9 will start to have a positive impact on revenue by Q4 this year. Bob Djurdjevic of Phoenix-based Annex Research told Reuters that customers have been putting off buying IBM's mainframes for a while, in anticipation of the new generation machine. ®

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