High-performance RISC workstation family announced by IBM

New RISC, advanced graphics, hundreds of applications

Business Wire

February 15,1990

NEW YORK -- IBM Thursday announced the RISC System/6000-a family -- a series of nine high-performance workstations and servers that offer customers on the leading edge of technology the power and solutions they are seeking for computing's most advanced, sophisticated challenges.

Based on IBM's new POWER (Performance Optimization With Enhanced RISC) Architecture, the family includes the industry's highest desktop workstation performance at more than 27 MIPS and 7 MFLOPS (1). With complete system prices starting at $12,995, it also offers industry-leading price/performance (2).

The nine POWERstations and POWERservers -- with top performance of 41 MIPS and 13 MFLOPS -- are designed to work in heterogeneous, open systems networks with workstations from IBM and other manufacturers. They will be supported by hundreds of third-party applications and backed by IBM's service and support network.

``The RISC System/6000 family brings unprecedented power to the desks of scientists, engineers, designers and other professionals,'' said George H. Conrades, IBM senior vice president and general manager, US Marketing and Services. ``It enables our customers to do more, whether their POWERstations are operating on their own, interconnected with a mainframe or sharing the resources of a distributed computing environment.''

Broad Family of POWERstations and POWERservers

The four-member POWERstation family begins with the IBM POWERstation 320, which, at 27.5 MIPS and 7.4 double-precision (64-bit) LINPACK MFLOPS, is the world's most powerful desktop workstation. It extends to IBM's supergraphics workstation, the POWERstation 730, which matches processing speeds of 34.5 MIPS and 10.9 MFLOPS with graphics performance of almost one million 3-D vector transformations per second (3).

The family of five POWERservers ranges from the POWERserver 320 to the most powerful member of the RISC System/6000 family, the POWERserver 540, which delivers performance of 41 MIPS and 13 MFLOPS for numeric intensive computing applications.

These systems, with a high-performance implementation of IBM's Micro Channel-a bus architecture, are designed to exploit the new version of AIX-a -- IBM's implementation of the UNIX-a operating system -- also announced today. The family is complemented by the new Xstation 120, a very low-priced X server terminal, giving users concurrent access to a variety of applications.

The RISC System/6000 family achieves its premium performance with three major technical advances: a new superscalar processor capable of executing multiple instructions in a single cycle; the industry's most advanced RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computer) floating-point processor for numeric-intensive applications, such as quantitative analysis, and optimized 3-D graphics capabilities for such complex applications as visualization and mapping.


IBM's new POWERstations and POWERservers provide the power and performance required for scientific and technical applications, and multi-user commercial applications for the UNIX operating system environment.

This performance is supported by an aggressive software developer program -- including discounts on hardware and software, and regional porting centers -- to aid software developers in porting their products to the new family. To date, this program has resulted in commitments to port more than 600 applications worldwide in areas ranging from mechanical and electrical design to structural mechanics and computer-aided software engineering.

``Today, we are joined by hundreds of IBM Business Partners and software developers in offering our customers the industry's most advanced workstation solution,'' said Conrades.

Second-Generation RISC Technology

IBM President Jack D. Kuehler noted that major IBM advances in RISC architecture, memory subsystem technology, disk technology, high-performance graphics, and Micro Channel architecture -- combined with IBM's version of the UNIX operating system -- enabled the company to offer its customers a broad workstation and server family with the best price/performance in the industry.

The RISC System/6000 family uses POWER Architecture, IBM's advanced second-generation superscalar RISC technology and a high-performance implementation of the IBM Micro Channel architecture to provide performance gains that are exploited by the new version of its AIX operating system.

In addition, the family uses advanced CMOS chip technology, a wide range of graphics adapters and processors, high-performance communications adapters, IBM's new 3.5-inch 320-megabyte (MB) and 5.25-inch 857MB high-performance SCSI (Small Computer Systems Interface) disk drives and innovative optimizing compilers for balanced system performance.

``The RISC System/6000 family is the latest example of our continuing drive to bring the benefits of advancing technology to our customers,'' said Kuehler. ``Today's announcement demonstrates our continuing commitment to open systems and industry standards, and our determination to become a leader in the workstation and open systems environment.''

RISC System/6000 Family

The new RISC System/6000 POWERstations and POWERservers, based on POWER architecture, provide the double-precision 64-bit floating-point performance required for extreme accuracy when running complex engineering and scientific applications.

All systems contain a high-performance implementation of IBM's Micro Channel architecture, the industry's leading technology for attaching peripherals. With an I/O throughput of up to 40MB per second, the new implementation is designed to give customers high-speed access to their data. To complement the Micro Channel bus, IBM also announced new high-speed SCSI adapters and disk drives. For internal data movement, the systems use either a 64- or 128-bit-wide memory bus, resulting in the ability to move data to and from memory at speeds up to 480MB per second.

Most Powerful Desktop Workstation

The family begins with the RISC System/6000 POWERstation 320, the most powerful desktop workstation available. It has a rated performance of 27.5 million instructions per second (MIPS) and 7.4 million floating-point operations per second (MFLOPS), with a complete system starting at $12,995. The POWER Architecture and advanced IBM CMOS microprocessor design combine to achieve this exceptional level of performance.

The workstation family also includes the deskside POWERstations 520 and 530, offering greater memory and disk storage capacity. These systems provide performance of up to 34.5 MIPS and 10.9 MFLOPS.

Superior Graphics Capabilities

The POWERstation 730, with an integrated Supergraphics Processor Subsystem, is a deskside unit that combines extensive high-function, 3-D graphics with a high-performance superscalar RISC workstation. Its capabilities include a shading processor for solid modeling and other 3-D engineering designs that can render at a rate of 120,000 Gouraud-shaded triangles per second. It can draw up to 990,000 3-D vectors per second, transformed, clipped and scaled (3).

The RISC System/6000 family is especially rich in graphics capability. Four new graphics adapters range from grayscale to high-function 3-D, allowing customers to implement solutions ranging from desktop publishing to mechanical design to 3-D animated visualization of scientific phenomenon.

IBM announced three graphics development environments: Graphics Library (GL), Personal graPHIGS and the X Windows tool set.


The RISC System/6000 family also includes five high-performance servers with prices starting at $20,375. The POWERservers 320, 520, 530, 540 and 930 can be configured either as LAN-attached servers for multiple users -- compute server or file server -- or as multi-user systems using ASCII terminals or Xstation 120s.

These systems offer performance of up to 41 MIPS and 13 MFLOPS. The MFLOPS rating is several times faster than other servers in this price class.

New AIX Version

AIX Version 3 for RISC System/6000 is an outstanding UNIX operating environment and software development platform. While conforming to open software standards, it includes many new and improved features, such as physical disk space management, advanced file system and program management facilities, extended realtime support and enhanced virtual memory.

The new version also provides improved system management, network install facilities and integrated communications facilities, including X.25, TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol), and NFS-a (Network File System).

The new UNIX implementation will provide a windowed hypertext retrieval system that offers a versatile and innovative approach to providing customers with access to online publications and help information. Documentation is available on a 5.25-inch compact disc (CD-ROM) that may be accessed from the user's POWERstation or from a network POWERserver.

AIX Version 3 for RISC System/6000 conforms to the Portable Operating System for Computer Environments (POSIX) IEEE Standard 1003.1-1988 and is planned to comply with the X/Open-a Base Level Definition, as defined in the X/Open-a Portability Guide, Issue 3 (XPG3) in a future release.

``No one else comes close to our breadth of implementation of the UNIX operating system,'' said Nick Donofrio, IBM vice president and president, Advanced Workstations Division. "AIX also runs on the Personal System/2-a 386 and 486, the RT-a system, and the Enterprise System/3090, and gives our customers nearly a thousand-fold growth potential within a single, open operating environment.''

Said Donofrio, ``We believe IBM is the only company that can claim so many features in one product family. In addition, we intend to provide appropriate linkages between AIX and our other strategic environment, Systems Application Architecture (SAA).''

User Interfaces

IBM announced industry-leading graphical user interfaces: AIXwindows-a Environment/6000, based on the OSF/Motif-a graphical user interface from the Open Software Foundation-a; and AIX NextStep-a Environment/6000, based on the innovative NextStep environment from NeXT-a Inc.

IBM announced that AIXwindows Environment/6000 and AIX NextStep Environment/6000 will be available as separate licensed programs.

AIXwindows Environment/6000 incorporates OSF/Motif, enhanced with a user-friendly, icon-based desktop; an enhanced version of the X Window System-a (Version 11, Release 3), featuring Display PostScript-a Interpreter from Adobe*; and the Graphics Library (GL), a high-function graphical interface library for the programmer that is compatible with the Silicon Graphics-a GL interface.

AIX NextStep Environment/6000 provides intuitive icons and menus designed to provide access to system utilities and applications, and includes Adobe's Display PostScript system as the underlying imaging model. It also has an interface builder designed to provide a rich set of well-defined K+wW?$\Rn,^ZZ,|[,\\X9ZZ:ZY.l]6X}X.fH vV?-+&WYKk_WV|.Y:he productivity of both programmers and end users. In addition, the Objective-C-a compiler provides the benefits of object-oriented programming for developers.

Customers can choose the interface most applicable to their environments.

Service and Support

Each POWERstation and POWERserver will be backed by IBM's tradition of service and support. IBM announced a one-year warranty, which includes 24-hour, seven-day-a-week availablility of hardware service. Full software service is also included in the license charge.

In addition, IBM has significantly increased its number of skilled systems engineers to assist customers in the design, configuration, installation and support of the RISC System/6000 family.

IBM also announced SystemXtra for the RISC System/6000 family, a fee service offering that provides a total service solution after system installation. It includes a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week telephone hot line for hardware and software problems and usage assistance, in addition to onsite installation of software maintenance. (1) The floating-point performance values given in this document (MFLOPS) are based on the double-precision LINPACK 100 X 100 system of linear equations. AIX XL FORTRAN Compiler/6000 and IBM's standard floating-point unit were used on each system reporting values. The ``All FORTRAN'' version of LINPACK was used. All MIPS values were computed using the RISC System/6000 Dhrystone 1.1 results, where 1757 Dhrystones per second equals one VAX-a 11/780 MIPS. The Dhrystone 1.1 test was compiled and executed on the indicated models using AIX XL C Compiler/6000. The MIPS and MFLOPS values are the results of tests run on engineering test-level systems. While these values should be indicative of generally available systems, no warranties or guarantees are stated or implied by IBM. We recommend application-oriented testing for performance predictions and offer these values only as an initial indicator. (2) This client configuration consists of a POWERstation 320 with 8MB of memory, a 3.5-inch 1.4MB diskette drive and a 3.5-inch 120MB fixed-disk drive, 19-inch 1280 x 1024 monochrome display, grayscale graphics display adapter, keyboard, mouse, Ethernet, AIX operating system and graphical user interface. The price quoted also includes software service and one-year hardware warranty service. (3) 990,000 3-D vectors per second, transformed, scaled and clipped (estimated). Graphics values reflect the results of hardware test measurements. System-level measurements will be available at a later date. Values shown in this document are the results of engineering test-level systems. While these values should be indicative of generally available systems, no warranties or guarantees are stated or implied by IBM. TRADEMARKS: a- RISC System/6000, AIX, AIXwindows and Micro Channel are trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation. Personal System/2 and RT are Registered Trademarks of IBM. a- UNIX is a registered trademark of AT&T in the United States and other countries, except Japan; and developed and licensed by AT&T in Japan. a- X/Open is a trademark of X/Open Company, Limited, in the United Kingdom and other countries. a-Open Software Foundation, OSF, OSF/1 and OSF/Motif are trademarks of the Open Software Foundation Incorporated. a- The X Window System is a trademark of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. a- NeXT and NextStep are trademarks of NeXT Inc. a- Network File System and NFS are trademarks of Sun Microsystems Inc. a- Adobe and Display PostScript are registered trademarks of Adobe Systems Incorporated. a- Silicon Graphics is a registered trademark of Silicon Graphics Inc. a- Objective C is a trademark of Stepstone Corporation. a- VAX is a trademark of Digital Equipment Corporation.

CONTACT: IBM Corporation, New York Douglas M. DeLay, 212/230-5499 (through 2/16) or, 203/352-7611 (after 2/16) 09:15 ET

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