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IBM Merging with Sequent 59

Ober was the first to write in with the news that IBM is merging with Sequent. IBM says it plans to begin selling Sequent products immediatley after the merger, and it looks like they even want to improve some of Sequents NUMA machines. IBM and Sequent are both involved in Project Monterey.
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IBM Merging with Sequent

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    The terminology is kinda fuzzy :-). IBM even uses the word merge right in their own headline:

    IBM and Sequent announce merger agreement
  • "Support the PowerPC processor"? They *do* support it: IIRC they are the biggest user of PowerPC. In AS/400s and big iron.
  • Nope.

    Sequent's big thing is NUMA architectures --- an alternative to SMP which avoids some of SMP's problems (ensuring cache consistency across many processors sharing the same memory is a nightmare, for instance, and carries a significant performance penalty for large numbers of processors). Buying Sequent doesn't mean anything for the low end, because SMP works well there; it's high-end multiprocessing they're after.
  • What strikes me as the bigest difference between NUMA-s and other multi-processor machines would be the idea of using different OS-s (well, actually only their Unix and M$ NT) on the multi-procesor system so that each OS gets one (or more?) processor to work with. At least that's what they claim here [sequent.com]:

    NUMACenter enables simultaneous use of both Unix and Windows NT on one system.

  • It's not a bad architecture. The OS (Dynix/ptx) isn't quite as bizarre as AIX.

    I just wish they'd stop sending us firefly cards that die out every so often. Sheesh.

  • Sequent "merging" with IBM is like a rain drop "merging" with the ocean.
  • I wasn't making a comment about Sequent employees, rather I was commenting on the all too often occurence after any techno merger. Everyone from the assimilated company jumps ship. Examples of good companies which followed this phenomena were digital->compaq and palmcomputing->3com. I am sure there are absolutely tons of competent Sequent employees now. Tomorrow...

    As far as anyone bothering and especially in IBM's case, it is most likely because they can and because some middle level executive convince some upper level executive that it was a good idea at a cheap price and it fits with this strategic goal or that sentence in a mission statement. It doesn't have to make sense but it does have to work out to some monetary and market advantage and this one does (although I consider it negleable in big blue's case).

    I expect someone else to do the same with SCO. We'll see.

  • The most interesting answer to your question is there are plenty of companies out there who's venture capital come from Intel. When Intel owns say 20% of your company and you need an enterprise level computer for your data center do you honestly think that Intel is going to let you buy a PowerPC/UltraSPARC/Alpha based system with their money. The answer is no.

    Look at Intel invested startups like eToys [www]. Just Intel boxes running linux, NT or Sequent's unix.

    This is an interesting way for Intel to invest to preserve it's market dominance.

  • Greetings mjg51721!
    Still remember changing directories, furtively modifying the .cshrc file, reading nn... from the help sheet for uxa.cso! I had the impression it was 4 386s though.

    Way back when, eh?

  • I work there... I know for a fact that they need people right now!

    Mostly internal and external help desk though.

    Call Volt if you are looking.

  • uhhm no.
    UltraSPARC scales up to 64 CPUs (in reality). Sequent's boxes scale up to 64 CPUs (in marketing).
    UltraSPARCs are 64 bit and can use terabytes of memory. Intel's CPUs are 32 bit and are limited to 2 gigs (or maybe 4).
  • I went to Sequent's web site to see what it's all about, and apparently all they do is intel-based boxes, and charge 6 digits for them. The boxes run Sequent's proprietary version of Unix (which I had never heard about before).

    Now, it may be just me, but I am completely missing the point of of this. Wouldn't it be cheaper to just buy a Sun box instead? The support and the availability of applications would be much better too. Who the hell would want to run a large data centre on 32 bit intel hardware anyway???

  • As was pointed out before NUMA allows for many more processors than your avarage Sparc. Furthermore, as was also pointed out, it's not really dependent on a certain type of chips. It sounds like the future direction of NUMA will involve IA-64 and PPC chips.
  • by trb ( 8509 )
    It's an accurate report, reflecting IBM's press release. If it's a reporter's job to be accurate, then it's ok. If it's a reporter's job to be truthful and subjective, /. might have attached a flashing honking bullshit alarm to the word "merger." We do live in an Orwellian Newspeak world. Or as Mr Gilbert said, skim milk masquerades as cream.

    As far as I'm concerned, issuing such a bowdlerised press release is like sticking a kick-me sign on your own back, I don't understand how anyone could see it in a positive light.

    In this light, /. reported properly, that is, without comment. You're a grown hacker, you figure out what it means.

  • Yes. Fayetteville State University in North Carolina had one. I don't know if they still do. It had about 20 terminals hooked up to it in one room and had dialup access as well. Nor do I remember how many processors it had, but it ran well enough for what it had to do (education).
  • an IBM executive recently made a testimony against Microsoft regarding OS/2 and Windows, in court.

    Who hasn't testified against Microsoft recently?

    If IBM has set out to kill Microsoft does that mean Lotus will begin to give a rat's ass about any platform other than Windows? Does that mean IBM will begin to support to PowerPC processor?

    IBM has a lot of vested interest in Microsoft's continued success. The affair isn't over; IBM is just looking for a less demanding companion.
  • for years you did a benchmark for SMP and Sequent came out top BY A LONG WAY

    go look up the byte stuff on this

    seems they got taken over by everybody else tho

    ah well would love still to work for them

    john jones

    a poor student @ bournemouth uni in the UK (a deltic so please dont moan about spelling but the content)
  • They were old pieces of junk though. There were a couple at UIUC for a while, (The student UNIX machine was one, the staff UNIX machine was another). The one the students got was an S81 running DYNIX 3.1 (NOT ptx) and the os was terribly outdated. It was some SVR2 and BSD 4.2 stuff that was just nasty. The machine was also underpowered to the point it was humorous. These are the days when I had a 486dx33 running Linux, they were running on 20 MHz 386's. There were like 16 or 20 of them at one point, but it was still perpetually sluggish. There could easily be about 250 people on at midday reading their mail leaving plenty of time for you to go get a soda while your process went about their business (It only had like 128M ram at it's most powerful stage). I really used to be able to make it suck by running something like xv remotely. Most of the time I rememebr it wwas when it had like 64M ram and 8 processors, what a dog. It used to take like an hour just to fsck. The even scarier part about it is that I look back on it fondly since it was the first UNIX machine I ever used and some of the other boxen for students were even slower and more useless.

    I heard University of washington had some positively monsterous Sequents for student use, but I never had access to one.

  • Ahh UXA, that brings back memories... I remember dialing into mossberg with my 2400 modem.

    btw, (loosely typed from memory :-)

    *** DO NOT stage files in /tmp it is used for ***
    *** too many other important things! ***
    You have new mail.
    uxa 1>

  • Mergers and acquisitions have different accounting rules. Therefore, when a large company, er, assimilates a much smaller company, it looks better on the books for them to call this a "merger".

    Disclaimer: I am not an accountant, but I am an employee of Kenan Systems, which merged with Lucent Technologies a few months ago. (The proprietor of Kenan Systems got about $1.5 billion in the deal; Lucent's market cap is over $190 billion....)

  • I've used sequent boxes too. I've only used the symmetry 2000's and I thought they were pretty nice. I agree that they're horribly expensive. I have a s2000 cab I like to play with. It makes an impressive microwave holder. The scsi they used was differential scsi, which isn't common, but it's not proprietary. I've always been interested in seeing linux run on one. I know sequent was big on running NT after they made smp suck less with nt4. I'm pretty sure their web page still runs IIS.
  • if NUMA is so amazing and wonderful, how come it hasn't had more media coverage? (or has it?) I hadn't heard of it until this press release; of course, I realize that I'm not always up-to-date on things, I do read /. often, and I read magazines, etc...

    Does anyone know anything about how this NUMA technology works? I couldn't find anything very specific on IBM's website, and Sequent's site didn't really explain it either.
  • As noted in other comments, of course this is not a Slashdot error. As for why IBM would present it in such a misleading light, consider:

    Whenever an IBM buys a controlling interest in a smaller company like Sequent, they have might have several motivations. In this case, I suspect there are two major ones. First, this gives IBM a position at the top, although a small one, in the large-scale business Unix systems market. Second, and possibly even more important, this buys them a lot of engineering experience and expertise in increasingly important NUMA design. With Sequent being one of approximately two large NUMA systems companies, IBM buys their way out of the mistake(?) of not developing NUMA themselves years ago -- and possibly saves money in the process.

    If the acquisition of expertise and engineering work is the major reason for the purchase, IBM must go to some considerable trouble to prevent Sequent engineers from jumping ship. Otherwise, this deal is not much of a bargain. The first thing IBM will do is treat Sequent, it's employees, designs, and market with the utmost respect. They might even make noises about improving the compensation of engineers and knowlegable sales staff.

    While referring to this purchase as a "merger" is pretty transparent, it still conveys respect and accomplishes the same objective. It is a flattering way to tell Sequent that what they are doing is important and that IBM understands and respects it.
  • I would say that Sequent merged with IBM, not vice versa. The larger company is, usually, listed second, I think.
  • First off.. it seems really silly to write about how they used the term merger instead of bought.

    So to show how silly it is.. check out this article..


  • Think about it.. if Sequent "adds up to almost nothing when compared to any of the Unix big boys" then why would IBM even bother with them?

    And regarding your hostile and rude comment about Sequent employees.. I bet that if anything some of the marketing or lawyers will be layed off.. but they still need the people who support sequent products (ex. OS, Compiler group).

    Maybe you shouldnt be so quick to jump to conclusions and just wait and see.

  • So they're only paying a 75-cent premium over current market for the shares. This means the major talents' stock options just turned into shit.

    If IBM doesn't come up with an additional incentive for them within the next couple weeks, watch for them to start taking a hike as soon as they've had a chance to evaluate offers, line up financing for their next startup, and/or the minute their next vesting increment hits.
  • Amdahl has been doing this for years - splitting up multiprocessor mainframes and the attached equipment into "domains" - separate virtual machines. One domain might be running VM on 4 CPUs, another running UTS (mainframe Unix) on a half-CPU timeslice, and so on.

    Not long ago they rehacked their machine identity system so that you could license software for the number of CPUs in a domain rather than the number in the box.
  • Does Slashdot post news in a distorted way simply for the shock value? I know this was not simple incompetence that would describe IBM's purchase of sequent as a "Merger."

    Come on.
  • IBM's buying Sequent - what on Earth is Sequent?

    Anyways, I think we don't need to worry about this. We'd be in trouble if AOL and MS merged to create the American-Wintel-On-Line system (AWOL).
  • Wow, this is really exciting because I live three blocks away from Sequent's headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon! Job opportunities abound! :)
  • I went to SP World about 6 weeks ago and there I got a glimpse of the directions IBM RS/6000 is taking.
    As far as NUMA is concerned (Although they refused to really call it NUMA) they will be upgrading the current SP backbone (300MB/s) to 2GB/s and later to even over 10GB/s with very low latencies. (That's Byte, not bit)

    As far as the software is concerned, Sequents software will be incorporated into Monterey. AIX and Monterey will evolve to become a single source tree to be marketed under a new name. They were asking for original names, although they said it shouldn't have a number in it...

  • Also being persued by Digital - Compaq and the Galaxy systems see here http://www.openvms.digital.com/affinity/galaxy.htm l
  • If IBM has set out to kill Microsoft does that mean Lotus will begin to give a rat's ass about any platform other than Windows? Does that mean IBM will begin to support to PowerPC processor?

    They do. Lotus has announced that the Lotus Notes will be available for Linux. The current RS/6000 line of workstations and servers run on both PowerPC and IBM Power architectures.

    As for this acquisition of Sequent, this is really strange. I'm not sure what they want to do with it, really, other than bolster their NT side. Maybe we can see modifications to Linux for the Sequent machines, though. That would be cool.

  • Sequent mananged to clear out some bottlenecks with their NUMA architecture, but their systems are still bus based. Even though the bus is large, they will not be able to push as much data as say a SGI Origin class machine (with cache coherent NUMA and a Hypercube topology instead of a bus topology)

    More information is available on SGI's NUMA page [sgi.com], still more info available here [sgi.com]

    Disclaimer: I work for SGI, but I believe in everything I say.
  • You're referring to "pooling of interests" accounting. FASB wants to eliminate or severely restrict this and require companies to account for these as purchases. The tech companies are screaming bloody murder about it because under purchase accounting the excess payment over book value would have to be recorded as goodwill and amortized over many years, which would deflate future earnings. Many of these acquisitions would be something like 99% goodwill since the companies are virtually worthless on paper.
  • I've used Sequents for a large clustered Oracle implementation and as application servers going back to the old Symmetry 2000 line. The idea of Sequent was to build an SMP box based on stock Intel chips. They apparently were one of the first people to solve the SMP problem in Unix with their Dynix/ptx operating system. The 2000 series was horrible junk, IMO. We ended up upgrading to their Symmetry 5000 line (the based on Pentiums) which was much better. The last time I worked with them (about two years ago), we were playing with the NUMA line.

    Sequent had two problems in my opinion. First, they were charging an outrageous amount of money for their equipment. Despite claims to use off the shelf components such as the Intel chip, virtually everything they had was proprietary. They even used non-standard SCSI connectors. The machines were supposed to be "mainframe class" and were priced like it. The second problem was their proprietary Unix OS. Sequent was always a niche player and it was problematic getting support tools to run on them. Everybody's first platform is Sun, then HP, IBM, etc. Sequent was way down the list if supported at all. Plus being a minor platform app vendors always tried to blame their problems on OS bugs.

    Having said that, the app I worked on is now running on all NUMA's and is doing quite well. We were able to run some serious transaction volume through these machines. Though I'm not sure how they stack up versus the competition today.
  • This buy out has two interesting ramifications. Everyone reading the press release saw how the sequent boxes 'compliment' the IBM line. But they do directly compete for data center space as well. The sequent boxes may not be long for this world. IBM, historically has proven to go either way on these sorts of things and with sequent constantly lumped in the 'other' piece of the market share pie it may make no sense for IBM to keep the company around.

    Also, project monterrey has three members, SCO, Sequent and IBM. Now it has two members. Is SCO in the merger kill zone too? Yes they are. What would project monterrey be if only IBM was the only member.

    (flame bait)Not that monterrey will be able to compete with linux and solaris.

    Seriously Sequent adds up to almost nothing when compared to any of the Unix big boys this is barely news worthy, only because sequent has shown up in all the project monterrey press releases next to big blue.

    Good luck to all those sequent employees. I can hear the resumes being edited from my office.
  • If you have any insider knowledge of IBM, you know that IBM is rapidly trying to restructure itself to adapt to the changing industries. The Old IBM was too slow and uncreative; in 1994 IBM suffered the greatest corporate loss in history.

    Whatever decisions IBM makes at this crucial time are going to be for long term interests. Recently, IBM has announced a lot of support for Linux, has really pushed its RS/6000 archetecture and AIX operating system and has now merged with Sequent, a company whose products compliment the RS/6000. And a little off topic, an IBM executive recently made a testimony against Microsoft regarding OS/2 and Windows, in court.

    In the past couple years IBM has partnered with Sun Microsystems and Netscape to try to destroy the Microsoft monoply. The three companies allied not only in technical inovation but also in court.

    There is an obvious pattern here. IBM is trying to push away from the industry's dependance on Intel and Microsoft systems. And although it's going to take a long time for this to really happen, any attempts made by IBM will definetly have an impact on the industry, consumers and even Linux.
  • by Analog ( 564 ) on Monday July 12, 1999 @10:40AM (#1806867)
    ...Project Monterey, which is poised to become the industry's leading commercial UNIX... - emphasis mine.

    Dunno 'bout you, but the fact that they bothered to differentiate says worlds to me about the current state of the corporate mindset. As far as things have come for Linux (and open software in general) in the last 18 months or so, every now and then I have to wonder if I really know the half of it.

  • by RoLlEr_CoAsTeR ( 39353 ) on Monday July 12, 1999 @10:35AM (#1806868)
    oops.. further review of the Sequent site (and some delving into the old stuff, I think) led me to find this [sequent.com], which might help some. It seems to look technical, and I'll bet it's what I was looking for... :)

Always leave room to add an explanation if it doesn't work out.