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IBM launches incredible z13 mainframe, promises it won’t take over the world

IBM is just about the biggest name in computer hardware — and, earlier this week, the company announced a product that is every bit the powerhouse that you would expect from its creator’s reputation.

The z13 mainframe is described by IBM as “one of the most sophisticated computer systems every built,” and considering the work that’s gone into its development, that’s no overstatement. Five years, 500 new patents and some $1 billion in research has gone into the project, and all that toil is evident in the sheer power of the z13.

The system is reportedly able to process 2.5 billion transactions a day, a figure that IBM states is the equivalent of 100 Cyber Mondays. Its technology is geared towards mobile transactions; both the added quantity of transactions that comes along with increased mobile device usage, and the associated need for more stringent security standards.

A retailer’s ability to serve customers on mobile devices quickly and securely can be crucial to its success in the modern marketplace. We’ve seen the biggest brands in retail fall victim to breaches over the past few years, and there’s little sign that the perpetrators are going to stop of their own accord. The best way to counter it would seem to be taking the necessary precautions ahead of time, and that’s exactly what IBM is offering with the z13.

Accompanying the product’s launch is a preview of IBM’s new z/OS software, which offers advanced analytics based on transactions carried out via the z13. The mainframe will also be able to use the company’s predictive analytics tech, SPSS, to personalize transactions with user-centric promotions and more as it takes place.

All this power is contained in an enclosure that looks closer to the consumer-centric designs of a company like Apple rather than the sometimes spartan work of IBM. Its angular, jet-black casing calls to mind a fractured version of the iconic monolith from 2001, or a two-door fridge in need of some serious repairs. In any case, it’s a timely design that’s meant to represent a timely product.

In short, the z13 is a very powerful bit of technology that could extend the lifespan of the mainframe for a little while longer, at least. While some corners of the industry maintain that this sort of computing isn’t long for this world, the system’s release suggests IBM thinks otherwise. It’ll take a while before we see how eagerly the z13 is adopted but, based on its specs and the features that are being touted, this is a very solid attempt at maintaining the relevance of mainframe computing.