IBM has denied rumours that it is planning to ship a 64-bit version of its OS/390 mainframe operating system by 2001, even though moving the rest of its system software to support 64-bit addressing is already underway.
Although sources indicated that a 64-bit version of the OS was in the pipeline for release in about four years, Big Blue attested that customers did not require such high levels of memory addressing at the moment.
David Hammond, marketing manager for IBM?s S/390 division, said: ?The value of a 64-bit architecture is that it can address more memory than the 4Gbytes you get with 32-bit. The existing OS/390 operating system already has the ability to address 16Tbytes of data and we will continue to enhance it to meet our customer needs in a non-disruptive fashion. I can?t comment on long term development plans, but we will look at it when we believe customers need it - when their current memory size becomes limited.?
He added that IBM had learnt a big lesson in 1981 when it moved its mainframe customers from 24-bit to 31-bit support because of the trouble and work it caused. Users had had to recompile many of their applications and henceforth, Big Blue had undertaken never to go down that path again.
OS/390 already offered the equivalent of 44-bit addressing, Hammond stated, and IBM saw no reason to tamper with that at the moment.
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