Equipped with as many as 54 processors in one box, the z9 mainframe can process as many as one billion transactions in a day, which is a major milestone in any computing quarter.
At the core of the large computer lies the multichip module (MCM) semiconductor, which contains 16 chips. While it is roughly the same size as the z990 MCM, the improved package doubles the system capacity, said IBM officials at an event in New York.
But the most valuable asset of the new machine is the new security features: A new cryptography feature and improved hashing algorithm allow users to encrypt and transport data to customers, partners and suppliers.
Erich Clementi, general manager of IBM zSeries mainframes, said the new machine will leverage Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) to enable 6,000 secure online handshakes per second, three times as many as the z990.
Such new security utilities and assurances are crucial because the corporate world has been riddled with data leaks in which personal information was compromised, Clementi said, citing recent data breaches and lost storage cartridges.
Virtualization on the z9 is also greatly improved. The system boasts 60 logical partitions (LPAR), which allows users to create thousands of virtual servers.
The z9 does not discriminate, using a special "assist" processor to run Java and Linux applications alongside databases and legacy software. Linux has been one of the catalysts for the resurgence of IBM's mainframes and server business.
"The reason interest in mainframes have been growing is their ability to run workloads like [Linux]," said Bill Zeitler, senior vice president of IBM's Systems and Technology Group, in his opening address. Citing IDC figures, Zeitler noted how IBM is continuing to grab server market share after a decade of waning systems revenues.
z9 also has new utilities to pare outages. This is important because most mainframe customers are financial services firms and banks, which rely on the Big Iron for reliable transactions.
The z9 109 is available in five models. The first four, running 1 to 38 processors, will be available in September. The 54-way model will be ready in November.
IBM officials also unveiled Virtualization Engine 2.0, the next version of the popular software that allows IBM servers to run as many as 10 operating systems on a single Power5 chip.
VE 2.0 features open interfaces, meaning IBM partners like Cisco, VMware, and Network Appliance can use the technology to connect servers with storage, said Rod Adkins, vice president of development in IBM's Systems and Technology group.
VE 2.0 uses a resource dependency service to help users define and discover relationships between applications, systems and networks. It also matches business processes to IT resources and reduces time to virtualize a server in minutes.
The last major chunk of news IBM had in store at the event is the announcement of Blade.org, an organization that will bolster product development for the company's BladeCenter server system.
Susan Whitney, general manager of IBM's xSeries servers, said Brocade, Cisco, Citrix Systems, Intel, Network Appliance, Nortel, and VMware have expressed interest in this group, which would allow participants to test their products on BladeCenter.
IBM, the blade server leader with roughly 40 percent of the market, has reserved www.blade.org as the Web site for the community.