Windows 2000 coming to the AS/400?

Imagine running Windows 2000 natively on the AS/400? Well, it is at least within the realm of possibility, according to an IBM source.

The source said that within recent months Microsoft made a proposal to IBM to port its Win 2000 operating system to run on the IBM Power-4 PowerPC processor. That next generation 64-bit chip is slated for release in the AS/400 server late in 2001. The Power-4 will have 170 million transistors, NUMA (Non-Uniform Memory Access) architecture and three levels of cache. IBM's management is investigating the proposal and its status is uncertain, the source said.

Currently, users can run Windows NT on an Intel-chip based PC server card that sits in the AS/400. The card shares some resources with OS/400, but if the Microsoft port occurs, it would be the first time users could actually run Win 2000 as the machine's operating system. This source, who was addressing a group of users at the COMMON technical-user conference here, said this proposal, if approved, could mean a considerable boost in reliability and scalability for Win 2000. The Power-4 has greater I/O (input/output) than the Intel chip architecture that Microsoft currently writes its operating system to, the company said.

"I think it would be a good deal," the source said. On the other hand, the company also noted that other IBM server units might be uncomfortable with this alliance, which could mean Win 2000 becomes a much more scalable and reliable operating system than before and, therefore, a competitor to IBM's high-end Unix boxes or mainframes. Nevertheless, the source said: "I'd like to see the IBM logo on a Win 2000 server."

An IBM spokesperson declined to comment on the matter.

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