Unisys Updates Mainframe Line

CMOS or Intel, You Decide

Unisys Corp. announced three new ClearPath Plus mainframe models on Monday. The new mainframes – which include value-added niceties such as workload pricing, development discounts and storage-on-demand – are intended to refresh Unisys’ ClearPath midrange line.

“We’re extending our announcement from last year [April 2001], when we announced plans to get all of the Unisys environments to the CMP architecture. So this refreshes the midrange environment to run on CMP,” says Rodney Sapp, Unisys’ director of ClearPath marketing.

The new ClearPath Plus mainframes range from the entry-level (the ClearPath Plus CS7201) to the mid-tier (the ClearPath Plus CS7402) to the high-end (the ClearPath Plus CS7802). Unisys top-of-the-line midrange entry, the ClearPath Plus CS7802, will support up to 32 mainframe processors, of either proprietary Unisys or of industry-standard Intel design.

Although IBM Corp. may seem to be the only mainframe game in town these days, Unisys’ says that its new ClearPath Plus mainframes are well-equipped to compete with Big Blue in the midrange. According to Sapp, where IBM can offer customers a choice of either zOS or Linux co-existing on the same mainframe hardware, Unisys allows customers to deploy Unisys’ MCP or OS2200 mainframe operating systems, Windows 2000 or Unixware across logical partitions on a single ClearPath Plus mainframe. Unisys’ mainframe operating systems can only run on the company’s own proprietary processors, however.

Similarly, Sapp argues, Unisys allows customers to deploy Windows 2000 Advanced Server or Windows 2000 DataCenter Server on its ClearPath Plus mainframes – powered by Intel Xeon microprocessors – to host either of its two mainframe operating systems.

“IBM is sort of positioned against the Linux mainframe, but we can run our Unisys OSes and consolidate Microsoft applications on the same platforms. We can also run UnixWare, too. You can have them all inter-mixed on the same hardware on different partitions,” he comments.

Unisys may also bring Linux support to its ClearPath Plus mainframes, as well, Sapp concedes. “Right now, Linux will run within Open8, which is where UnixWare runs. We’ll have it there in that sense, other than that we’re still evaluating that market segment,” he asserts.

With regard to value-added features, Unisys’ new ClearPath Plus mainframes ship with a new workload pricing scheme that, Sapps says, could result in lower costs for new ClearPath Plus customers.

“This says that depending upon the workload that’s running on one of these partitions, we’re going to price it differently. We’re going to price a mainframe used solely for application development at half the price of a workload environment,” he explains.

Similarly, Unisys is unveiling a new Storage-on-Demand feature for use with its ClearPath Plus mainframes. In this scheme, Unisys will ship its ClearPath Plus mainframes with up to 1 TB of storage, only 150 GB of which is initially available. If a customer needs to expand its capacity, it can quickly purchase additional storage from Unisys and unlock capacity using a software key.

Unisys’ ClearPath Plus mainframes can run a mix of either Unisys’ own proprietary microprocessors or Intel’s Xeon and Itanium microprocessors. For the near term, Sapp says that the new ClearPath Plus systems will initially be configured for use with Intel’s Pentium III Xeon chips, at speeds of 700- and 900-MHz, and with Intel’s 64-bit Itanium processor, as well. At some point in the future, he notes, Unisys will switch to Intel’s next-generation Pentium 4 Xeon MP (“Foster”) chips as they become available.

About the Author

Stephen Swoyer is a Nashville, TN-based freelance journalist who writes about technology.