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NASA Shuts Down Last Mainframe, Signals End of an Era

By - Source: NASA | B 69 comments

NASA announced that it has abandoned its last mainframe, an IBM Z9 system.

The mainframe was located at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The massive, 6-year-old 2094-s54 model has 54 main processors and 512 GB of memory. According to Wikipedia, S54 mainframes cost "millions of dollars" when new. NASA CIO Linda Cureton wrote in a blog post that the shutdown of the Z9 ends the "mainframe era" at NASA. She noted that mainframes still have their place in computing where it does not matter if "end-user interfaces are clunky and somewhat inflexible," when there is a need for a system that delivers "extremely reliable, secure transaction oriented business applications."

According to Cureton, NASA kept the Z9 operational for older applications that are now being phased out. NASA apparently has not developed mainframe application in some time, which made the mainframe a rather costly proposition. Cureton also noted that NASA an save some money by shutting down some software licenses that are tied to the system, which runs Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 (RHEL4).

NASA's first IBM mainframe, a 360/91 Model, shipped to NASA in 1967.

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  • 38 Hide
    zorky9 , February 15, 2012 7:11 PM
    I bet that can still play Crysis.
  • 33 Hide
    jdamon113 , February 15, 2012 7:13 PM
    can I have it
  • 33 Hide
    Netherscourge , February 15, 2012 7:15 PM
    Wow, that thing must be LOADED with space porn!

Other Comments
  • 38 Hide
    zorky9 , February 15, 2012 7:11 PM
    I bet that can still play Crysis.
  • 33 Hide
    jdamon113 , February 15, 2012 7:13 PM
    can I have it
  • 33 Hide
    Netherscourge , February 15, 2012 7:15 PM
    Wow, that thing must be LOADED with space porn!

  • 18 Hide
    nforce4max , February 15, 2012 7:17 PM
    At least by shutting it down they now have a little more room in their budget for other projects and upgrades to other systems they have.
  • 22 Hide
    ben850 , February 15, 2012 7:23 PM
    I wonder what kind of tasks they gave this powerful machine..

    Also makes me wonder what kind of machines the government uses to crack encrypted data.
  • 29 Hide
    ProDigit10 , February 15, 2012 7:29 PM
    NASA could start renting out the mainframe!
    Another option is to sell it, before it becomes slower than a hand cellphone!
  • 4 Hide
    ta152h , February 15, 2012 7:33 PM
    She forgot to mention performance. The z/196 at 5.2 GHz is considerably more powerful than even a Bulldozer. OK, so is my vintage 8088 if I jack it up to 7.16 MHz.
  • 19 Hide
    esrever , February 15, 2012 7:55 PM
    can't read the word mainframe without thinking about reboot...
  • 27 Hide
    A Bad Day , February 15, 2012 7:55 PM
    Considering the fact that NASA receives less funding than US Air Force's air conditioning costs, why am I not surprised they're forced to slash budgets?
  • 17 Hide
    SteelCity1981 , February 15, 2012 8:13 PM
    And now it's only worth thousands of dollars. :) 
  • -5 Hide
    stratplaya , February 15, 2012 8:36 PM
    Please tell me they're not going to personal computers for their IS needs. Mission critical applications should not be run on a PC or MAC.
  • 3 Hide
    zerghumper , February 15, 2012 8:41 PM
    I'd love to have one or two of those mainframes for folding!
  • 17 Hide
    house70 , February 15, 2012 8:49 PM
    A Bad DayConsidering the fact that NASA receives less funding than US Air Force's air conditioning costs, why am I not surprised they're forced to slash budgets?

    Because the business of killing people has always been more profitable than any business dedicated to the bettering of mankind. That's why the defense industry laughs all the way to the bank, while the rest have to tighten their belts.
  • 2 Hide
    __-_-_-__ , February 15, 2012 9:50 PM
    one thing I don't realise is why these organizations don't bet more on distributed computing.
    it would be much better and way more cheaper. I mean all these organizations have thousands of pc's around. either for more complex tasks or for very simple tasks like word processing etc. these pc's have a huge processing power that is wasted. with distributed computing they could take advantage of it and save billions of dollars on everything while getting the very same results.
  • 10 Hide
    rantoc , February 15, 2012 9:57 PM
    They just re-brandet it "the cloud" and the terminal era continues under that name but this time with phones and tablets... =P
  • 12 Hide
    f-14 , February 15, 2012 10:23 PM
    bet the RIAA and MPAA made them shut it down with all the copies of 2001 a space odyssey being pirated off of it
  • 19 Hide
    mad tech , February 15, 2012 11:11 PM
    imagine getting a BSOD in Space :D 
  • 22 Hide
    Chetou , February 15, 2012 11:24 PM
    kinggremlinWhen your country gets taken over by another one because you had nothing to defend yourself with, that space program you're so proud of is going to look pretty useless.
    I think it is a stretch to describe the primary purpose of NASA as "for the betterment of mankind." Teflon, Tang and velcro are all nice inventions, but hardly worth the budget that NASA has had to invent them if as you claim, NASA's purpose is to better mankind. NASA, itself, has done very little beyond generating jingoistic pride when it comes to having any sort of significant impact on human lives.NASA has done some very interesting and amazing things, and there is absolutely a place for it in our national budget, but don't kid yourself about bettering mankind. It's not doing that. At least it hasn't yet.


    http://space.about.com/od/toolsequipment/ss/apollospinoffs.htm
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/50-years-50-giant-leaps-how-nasa-rocked-our-world-879377.html
    http://curiosity.discovery.com/topic/physics-concepts-and-definitions/ten-nasa-inventions.htm
    ...

    Those useless bastards, think of how many more guns could've been made with their part of the budget!
  • 13 Hide
    Anonymous , February 16, 2012 12:15 AM
    Skynet: "Foiled again!"
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