To boost printing capabilities at the enterprise level, IBM recently unveiled the next generation of its Infoprint family of high-speed printers, including an optional Power-based controller Big Blue said will significantly increase the amount of horsepower needed for high-end print jobs in iSeries applications.
The inclusion of Power architecture for its printing line is yet another example of IBM's push toward finding as many uses for its new chip as possible. Power microprocessors have already found their way into Big Blue's supercomputers, Unix servers and storage systems, as well as into cell phones, video game systems and other high-tech devices from other manufacturers.
According to IBM, customers that purchase printers with the Power 64-bit, multi-processing controller will be able to run jobs at Big Blue's highest-rated speed, an 18% increase over the previous generation Infoprint line.
Bill Shaffer, the business line manager for iSeries output solutions for the IBM's printing systems division, points to the new controller technology as the key component to the latest set of Infoprint enhancements. Though the Infoprint 4100 will not be limited to the iSeries, Shaffer said customers looking to increase production in such areas as direct mailings will see marked improvements.
"The way customers print today, the trend is toward more dynamic content … and the controller technology is very important," Shaffer said. "With the Power5 architecture, that's a lot of horsepower within a printer."
One of the Infoprint 4100's key new features is an enhanced productivity tracking feature, a software tool that allows operators to view data on printer performance, operator activities and print job statistics. Production operation data is logged and retained in a DB2 database, which allows operators to query actions in the production cycle to measure productivity.
Big Blue said Infoprint 4100 is a major part of its output environment roadmap. Though IBM hasn't said what that roadmap will look like, it said it plans to include enhanced color emulation and support, Power controllers, workflow management, business integration, and productivity management tools as part of a framework designed to integrate printer hardware and software and link print technologies to IBM server, software and services offerings.
The Infoprint 4100's hardware enhancements include improvements in the printhead, developer and fusing mechanisms, plus an integrated optical density feedback system designed to enhance image quality. On the software side, the 4100 will support customized, selectable halftones with four screen frequencies and a 256-level grayscale simulation of color objects.
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