IBM chip uses glass to insulate silicon

IBM chip uses glass to insulate silicon

Company says insulation technology could boost computing performance

By Patricia Daukantas

GCN Staff

IBM Corp.'s new silicon-on-insulator, or SOI, processor technology could boost computing speeds up to 30 percent, a company official said.

SOI puts a thin layer of glass insulation between chip transistors and the underlying silicon. The insulation reduces electrical leakage and improves performance, said Ian Jarman, product marketing manager for IBM's AS/400 line.

The first SOI chip, IBM's PowerPC IStar, also incorporates IBM-developed copper circuitry that boosts the number of transistors per chip while reducing power consumption.

The SOI processors are making their debut in three new servers in IBM's AS/400 product line, which shares much of the technology behind IBM's RS/6000 family of Unix servers and supercomputers, Jarman said. IBM has been adding copper-connection processors to the RS/6000 line since last fall.

AS/400 servers, used mainly for payroll and financial applications, have integrated security and database features not found in the RS/6000 line, Jarman said. The three SOI models are four- to 24-way servers that run the latest IBM OS/400 operating system, Version 4 Release 5.

The AS/400e 820 takes one or two processors, the 830 model two to eight, and the 840 model 12 or 24.

To combine OS/400 and Microsoft Windows NT or Windows 2000 applications on a single system, IBM has integrated Intel-based Netfinity servers with the new AS/400s, Jarman said.

An integrated Netfinity server consists of a processor board with a 700-MHz Pentium III chip and up to 4G of memory. Up to 16 Netfinity boards can plug into one of the AS/400 servers for managing both OS/400 and NT applications while maintaining storage and backup under OS/400.

The new AS/400e servers come with Gigabit Ethernet LAN adapters, as well as 100-Mbps token-ring adapters.

The entry-level, two-way AS/400e 270 uses non-SOI copper-connected processors and accepts up to 8G of memory. It was designed for electronic commerce, data marts and other business intelligence applications, Jarman said. It can combine AS/400, Windows 2000 and AIX applications via an integrated Netfinity server and IBM's AS/400 Portable Application Solutions Environment.

Organizations that have Lotus Domino groupware can use either the 270 or 820 as a dedicated server for multiple Domino tasks.

AS/400e models with minimum disk and memory start around $36,100 for the 820, $166,000 for the 830 and $775,000 for the 840. A 270 server in a minimal configuration is about $13,600, Jarman said.

Contact IBM at 800-426-2255.

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