[rescue] AS/400? Anyone?

Jonathan C. Patschke jp at celestrion.net
Thu Jan 17 14:49:01 CST 2008

On Thu, 17 Jan 2008, Geoffrey S. Mendelson wrote:

> On Thu, Jan 17, 2008 at 02:14:34PM -0500, Ethan O'Toole wrote:
>> Anyone want a AS/400? 3 cabinet system, complete?
> Does IBM still sell AS/400's?

As "iSeries" or "System i", yes.  The "System i" platform is the same
hardware as "System p", except the p-branded systems have firmware taint
that prevents them from running traditional i/OS (OS/400) workloads,
and the i-branded systems have a license module to identify the
customer's CPW allotment.  I also think the i vs p designation comes
into play when someone wants to run Windows workloads, but I'm not sure
about that.

> I have some very anti AS/400 opinions and the effect they had on IBM's
> finances when the company stopped selling low end 370's to force
> customers to buy AS400's, and said so on another mailing list. (circa
> 1990-1991)

The AS/400 is a very intriguing architecture, not only because of its
combination of a unified address space for -everything- (including, as
far as I know, disk blocks) but because of its lack of runtime memory
protection and its extreme portability.  There's a relatively thin shim
of firmware/microcode between the hardware and what might be called the
"executive mode" portions of OS/400 that abstracts away the underlying
hardware in a virtual-machine environment.

That's not to say that they were or weren't a great business decision,
but the overall structure of the system makes for excellent study.
There's also a lot to be said for how well IBM managed to make a system
even an idiot could maintain well.  Nearly anyone capable of reading can
do basic day-to-day maintenance of an AS/400 box.

> I also said that now, IBM is concentrating on Z/390's and RS6000's,
> with the AS400's gone.

Except they're not gone.  They RS/6000s and AS/400s are the same thing.
Things had been moving that way since the first AS/400e systems shipped
with RS64 processors.  A lot of the nice changes that came to the
RS/6000 family in the POWER4 and POWER5 era were due largely to the
demands of AS/400 customers.

Jonathan Patschke
Elgin, TX

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