A next-generation series of four-way AS/400 servers will be available from IBM by early next year, said Frank Soltis, creator of the product.
IBM has developed its own internal PC card for the server, to which an external Netfinity box will be connected, Soltis told PC Week.
IBM said the use of an external box will speed up time to market, but added that there were no plans to incorporate it internally in future servers.
The company would not comment on an exclusive report (PC Week, 9 February) that it would be forced to use an awkward external box because it had found that internal PC cards can overheat and cause meltdown.
IBM also said last week that the AS/400 would be moving to faster copper chips next year, following in the footsteps of stablemate RS/6000, which will include such chips by the end of this year.
The AS/400 has existed for 11 years and had been expected to be overtaken by NT servers moving upward and Unix servers moving down, Mike Mager, senior research analyst at Butler Group, told PC Week.
However, customer loyalty and a solid architecture mean that applications continue to be written for the AS/400, he said. IBM has said it sold more AS/400 servers last year than ever before.
Craig Johnson, AS/400 program manager, outlined future plans in February, after the release of IBM's AS/400e family of servers. He said IBM would concentrate on the much-delayed Windows 2000 OS but would continue to offer NT solutions.
Johnson ruled out adoption of the recently announced Cornhusker clustering technology, which will be included in Netfinity servers from this summer.
IBM said that the AS/400 will continue to use PowerPC chips for the next four years and that IBM expects to incorporate the Giga processor (also known as Power4), offering 1.2 to 1.8GHz processing speed, in two years.
Soltis did not rule out moving over to Intel chips after this period if Intel produced a server chip with acceptable scalability.
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