That’s the best name they could get for $1.2B?

IBM just announced a new line of mainframe computers, called the z9. They say that over 5,000 engineers worked on the project for 3 years, at a cost of $1.2 billion. That seems like a lot of money to invest in any project, let alone dinosaur technology like mainframes.

Sure, the new system has twice the performance of IBM’s previous mainframes. And it has good hardware support for encryption and virtualization. But aren’t large clusters a cheaper way to get that kind of performance and reliability?

Yet customers are still buying these systems, at over a million dollars a pop. And although analysts figure that IBM only sold about 2,500 systems last year, they estimate that sales of associated software, services and storage accounted for up to 25% of IBM’s annual $96B revenue. (And up to half of its operating profits).

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