Biggish Blue is releasing a new range of mainframes and is hoping to lure businesses back to high end computing with security and data analytics features.
IBM still sells a lot of mainframes despite selling off the rest of its hardware business years ago. This requires it to come up with new chips in the hopes of attracting a few sales which will make it about a million each.
The company said that it had spent more than $1 billion developing the updated machines, focusing on efforts to boost their computing performance, capacity and features.
Charles King, an analyst with technology research firm Pund-IT told Reuters that IBM's customers will like the new bells and whistles, the idea is only going to really appeal to existing customers.
He warned it will be hard for IBM to win new clients as most businesses are happier with cheaper technology.
King said it is going to get even harder for IBM to find new customers and new opportunities for the mainframe.
Gartner believes that global sales of mainframes will fall this year and each year through 2016, declining a total of 14 percent over the five years to nearly $4.7 billion.
Gartner analyst Jeffrey Hewitt said current mainframe customers are likely to stick with the technology. Government agencies, financial services companies and other businesses still need mainframes because their work needs power, speed and very high reliability.
But he thinks that less-expensive servers running on x86 chips from Intel and AMD will grow during this period. When put into clusters these are capable of managing some tasks once handled only by mainframes.
He told Reuters that sales of x86 servers will surge 10 percent this year to $39 billion. In the five years to 2016, annual sales of those machines will climb a total of 33 percent to $47 billion, or more than 10 times the mainframe market, he said.