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The IBM 3090 series was launched in 1985. Its design took forward instruction pipelining ideas from the late 1970s IBM 3033, extending them in many ways including the provision of optional hardware units and an extended instructions set to perform vector processing. It also took forward and packaging and integration methods from the early 1980s IBM 308x series with faster components and improved power and cooling techniques which enabled the cycle time to be reduced from the 308x's 24 ns to 18.5 ns, and to increase the logical operations that could be handled per cycle.
The 3090 system was available with one, two, four or six processors, each of which could have a Vector Facility. The Atlas Centre 3090 was initially installed as a two-processor system with one Vector Facility, 64 MB of memory plus 128 MB of expanded storage (semiconductor memory used as a logical, slower, extension of main memory). For the duration of the IBM Joint Study Agreement it was expanded to a six processor/six Vector Facility system with 256 MB of memory and 1 GB of expanded storage, and afterwards it was reduced to a four-processor system with one Vector Facility while its workload was being transferred to newer facilites. It was finally closed down in 1995.
Information on work done under the Joint Study Agreement between RAL and IBM is given in the Supercomputing section.