Yenya's World

Thu, 20 Mar 2008


Today's presentation of industrial partners of our Faculty was about mainframes. I have really looked forward to see it, because from time I hear how mainframes are superior to the ordinary computers, etc, so I wondered whether and why it was true.

It was a total waste of time. Not only the speakers were not much experienced with presenting, but also the talk was almost information-free. For example, they described a typical set of components in a mainframe, which was a block diagram with parts which (as I understand it) have their equivalents in common PCs. They however did not tell us whether or how they are different.

They also discussed which programming languages can be used for programming mainframes. Instead of showing a single slide with the list of languages, and maybe explicitly mentioning one or two most uncommon ones, they spent several minutes saying things like "We also support C++, which is the language deveoped in 199x, and it is object-oriented. We can use Java, which is also object-oriented, and on top of that it is interpreted.". And so on.

The presentation also included plain lies, such as saying that the newest mainframe (released few months ago) with 1.5 TB of RAM and 64 quad-core CPUs is roughly equivalent to 1500 PCs: when compared to my new workstation I highly doubt that (if I compare the memory, I get the factor of 187.5, and for the number of cores I get 128; and I think the mainframe cores as well as the memory will be slower because of the HA/RAS features and looser coupling in the bigger system).

Also the good old ignorance was there: they said that most of the Internet is running on the mainframes (whatever that means :-), and something along the lines of "I have tried to search what hardware Google uses - I didn't find it out but I bet they run on IBM mainframes".

So the whole question whether mainframes are interesing and why should I use them remained unanswered. I really hope the next week it will be better - Dan Walsh of Red Hat will be presenting SELinux (Thursday 27th 14:00, FI MU, room D3 - you are invited to come).

Update - Thu, 20 Mar 2008: Dan Walsh's talk

As you can read in comments (thanks!), apparently Dan Walsh's talk on SELinux will be on Tuesday, April 1st, 12:00 instead.

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