Advanced Computing in the Age of AI | Thursday, February 22, 2024

New Unisys ClearPath System Outperforms Mainframe Offerings 

Unisys ClearPath Dorado 8300 Series Source: PRNewsFoto/Unisys

Unisys completed its decade-long transition of two product lines to an all-Intel platform with today's introduction of the ClearPath Dorado 8300 Series, its most powerful system to date and one the company says outperforms its mainframe offerings.

The development and integration firm's new high-end Xeon-based systems outperform Unisys' previous proprietary CMOS processor-based Dorado mainframes, according to Unisys benchmarks. And these new products can run the mission-critical applications enterprises currently operate on legacy Unisys platforms, according to the developer.

"[Customers] don't have to do anything. If they want to take advantage of the new architecture, there are sets of prescriptions we offer," Jim Thompson, Unisys’ chief engineer and vice president, told Enterprise Technology.

The Dorado 8300 family is the sixth generation of Unisys products to use Intel chips. It offers 610 MIPS single thread performance; up to 6,200 MIPS single image performance; 32GW memory standard in all configurations, and dual OS 2200 partitions for 12,000-plus MIPS, as two full partitions in one standard 42U cabinet. The system includes mirrored memory with error detection and correction; redundant hot plug power and cooling, and dual AC entry for alternate power sources for internal component resiliency; redundant storage access; high availability processor modules, and redundant management servers for system resiliency, and redundant processing nodes standard with the Dorado 8300.

In addition, it includes high-performance I/O nodes with dedicated storage interconnect; redundant paths, switches, PMM interfaces, and it supports 1-6 HBAs per PSIOP on ISM Type 1. The server supports the same storage, printer, and tape peripherals as the Dorado 800 series. The Dorado 8300 features dual port 16Gb and quad port 8Gb Fibre cards, as well as dual port 8Gb FICON card.

Each Dorado system runs Unisys' ClearPath OS 2200 operating environment, which includes an integrated stack of 110 tested software products.

"We merged or migrated all of the performance – meaning IO and networking as well – for the OS 2200. It's a complete architecture change," said Brian Herkalo, director of ClearPath Portfolio Management at Unisys, in an interview. "With this announcement, we are completely off proprietary technology. All our products are pure x86. That's an amazing feat of engineering."

Jim Thompson, Unisys chief engineer

Jim Thompson, Unisys chief engineer

To support Unisys' vision of the software-defined datacenter, Unisys' Forward fabric architecture is integrated into ClearPath Dorado, he said. The fabric-based solution incorporates security, availability, scalability, and predictable computing performance to workstations running on Intel processors, according to Unisys. Each Dorado system can support up to 28 Forward nodes – including nodes certified for SAP HANA – with 30 partitions each, for a total of 840 simultaneous workloads, Unisys said.

"It lets us have a uniform architecture on which we can deploy Clearpath architecture, Windows, Linux, our vertical solutions around things like e-portals or encryption or message passing but they all integrate on a common architecture. It now puts us on a better path for integration for large scale computing," said Thompson.

The Dorado 8300 is available in two versions. Model 8380 offers clients a traditional performance-based system software-licensing model, based primarily on fixed costs. The Dorado Model 8390 uses a pay-for-use approach leveraging Unisys metering software. Both are slated to become available on May 29.

Hard Day's Night

About a decade ago, Unisys decided it had to move from its long-standing focus on proprietary systems toward a future based on x86 Intel technologies, said Thompson, who has overseen the company's transition since Day One.

But doing this once was not enough.

"We actually to do it twice. We had two different architectures. That meant two teams with two different bases approaching the same general problem but with two different set of problems," he recalled. "We weren't just emulating an instruction set. It wasn't just, 'I'm going to read an operator and do it and I'm going to read the next one and I'll do it.' We had to emulate the entire environment. If you think about it, running the binary at one level is a feat. What's really a feat is when programmer takes diagnostics from that binary and looks to diagnostics, what he has to see is what the underlying architecture program was designed for. So we had to actually recreate that entire environment, not just process the instructions against arbitrary data instructions. It was not just instruction emulation. We've built software-defined computers that can run on other architectures."

It also was crucial to allow customers to retain their ability to run existing applications on new systems, Thompson said. While Unisys recommends tweaking software to take advantage of the Intel-based systems' capabilities, enterprises can opt to simply continue running their applications as-is, he said.






About the author: Alison Diana

Managing editor of Enterprise Technology. I've been covering tech and business for many years, for publications such as InformationWeek, Baseline Magazine, and Florida Today. A native Brit and longtime Yankees fan, I live with my husband, daughter, and two cats on the Space Coast in Florida.