What is a mainframe?
Mainframes are data servers designed to process up to 1 trillion web transactions daily with the highest levels of security and reliability.
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Mainframes are computers

At their core, mainframes are high-performance computers with large amounts of memory and processors that process billions of simple calculations and transactions in real time. The mainframe is critical to commercial databases, transaction servers, and applications that require high resiliencysecurity and agility.

How do mainframes work?

IBM mainframes are uniquely engineered to:

  • Run common operating systems like Linux®, specialized operating systems such as IBM z/OS®, and software that takes advantage of unique hardware capabilities.
  • Support massive simultaneous transactions and throughput (I/O) with built-in capacity on demand and built-in shared memory for direct application communication.
  • Deliver the highest levels of security with built-in cryptographic cards and innovative software. For instance, the latest IBM zSystems® mainframes can execute up to 1 trillion secure web transactions per day and manage privacy by policy.
  • Offer resiliency through multiple layers of redundancy for every component (power supplies, cooling, backup batteries, CPUs, I/O components, cryptography modules) and testing for extreme weather conditions.

What does a mainframe look like?

Today’s mainframes are much smaller than the early “Big Iron” machines. With a standard 19” rack, the latest mainframe seamlessly coexists with other platforms in the data center. One IBM zSystems single-frame system requires 75 percent less floor space than x86 2U servers running the same workloads and throughput – and reduces power consumption by 40 percent.

Related links

Learn more about the newest IBM mainframe: IBM® z16™

See what a mainframe looks like in 3-D

What’s new and next for the mainframe?

The core design values of the mainframe have always been reliability, scalability, compatibility and security.

Today’s mainframe is designed with next-level data privacy, enterprise security and cyber resiliency – all delivered through a hybrid cloud.

Mainframe solutions

Mainframe software

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Mainframe storage

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Linux mainframe server

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IBM zSystems mainframe servers

High transaction rate data server with the highest security, performance, availability, flexibility and runs run z/OS®, Linux®, z/VSE®, z/TPF and z/VM®.

Mainframe technology services

Discover technology services that help you plan, deploy, optimize and refresh your hybrid cloud and data center infrastructure.