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IBM’s new $1B computer handles 2.5B transactions per day

IBM z13

At IBM’s manufacturing facility in Poughkeepsie, NY, software developer Moses Vaughan tests a mobile app that is running on IBM’s new z13 mainframe, one of the most sophisticated computer systems ever built, on Wednesday

It took $2.5 Billion and 5 years to develop a computer. IBM says the z13 mainframe system is the ‘most powerful and secure system ever built.’

The z13 has been designed with mobile money economy in mind – of which Kenya is a major player in the sector, having made 825 million transactions worth Sh2 Trillion in 2014.  The mainframe boosts of being the first system able to process 2.5 billion transactions per day.

“In addition to real-time encryption, the mainframe delivers analytics to help meet the expectations of consumers for speed and safety for trillions of transactions in the mobile economy,” said IBM in a statement at the launch of the system.

The rapid growth of mobile applications has created consumers who expect mobile transactions to be fast and seamless – regardless of which mobile payment platform is providing the service. Mobile transactions are projected to grow at an estimated 40 trillion mobile transactions per day by 2025.

In developing the system, IBM included 500 patents including cryptographic encryption technologies and involved 60 clients.

“Every time a consumer makes a purchase or hits refresh on a smart phone, it can create a cascade of events on the back end of the computing environment. The z13 is designed to handle billions of transactions for the mobile economy.  Only the IBM mainframe can put the power of the world’s most secure datacenters in the palm of your hand,” said Tom Rosamilia, senior vice president, IBM Systems.

“Consumers expect fast, easy and secure mobile transactions. The implication for business is the creation of a secure, high performance infrastructure with sophisticated analytics.”

IBM says the z13 features the world’s fastest microprocessor, 2 times faster than the most common server processors and 300 percent more memory. As a result, the z13 transaction engine is capable of analyzing transactions in “real time” and will be able to help prevent fraud as it is occurring, allowing financial institutions to halt the transaction before the consumer is impacted.

Businesses will be keen on the z13’s analytic capabilities which IBM says can add more personalization by gaining a real-time view of a client’s purchasing habits akin to what IBM is offering Kenya Power. The utility company has deployed an automated system that will allow KP mine in-depth customer data and customize solutions according to their needs.

The z13 uses cloud architecture, legendary for its ability to scale and reliably and securely handle multiple workloads. In a scale-out model, it is capable of running up to 8,000 virtual servers – more than 50 virtual servers per core, helping to lower software, energy and facilities costs.

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