Home > In the News > Buying an IBM mainframe Buying an IBM mainframe Thom Holwerda 2019-05-23 In the News 9 Comments I bought an IBM mainframe for personal use. I am doing this for learning and figuring out how it works. If you are curious about what goes into this process, I hope this post will interest you. Is it just me, or is everyone buying an IBM mainframe these days? What’s with the sudden resurgence in interest? About The Author Thom Holwerda Follow me on Mastodon @firstname.lastname@example.org 9 Comments 2019-05-23 6:55 pm chriscox You know, getting the hardware isn’t really where the cost lies. 2019-05-23 8:38 pm Alfman chriscox, You know, getting the hardware isn’t really where the cost lies. What exactly do you mean? He paid $23k + 3-8k shipping for used components bought as-is. Assuming one does not balk at those kinds of hardware prices, then $100-200 a month to run it all day long is probably pocket change to this person. I’m not tempted by this sort of thing, but for me the hardware costs would be more prohibitive than the running costs. 2019-05-25 11:44 am anevilyak If you plan on actually running it, it’s highly likely that your power bill will overtake what you paid for the machine in short order, among other things. 2019-05-25 1:59 pm Alfman anevilyak, If you plan on actually running it, it’s highly likely that your power bill will overtake what you paid for the machine in short order, among other things. My emphasis. It takes a rather long time for the electricity costs to take over the hardware costs, let’s run some numbers. Just for kicks, say you bought the same mainframe as this guy for a hobby and let’s say you intend on using your personal mainframe 80 hours/week. Since it’s your personal mainframe and the rest of the time you’re either sleeping or at work so you don’t need to keep it on. Residential electricity averages 13 cents per kWh in the US, but let’s be pessimistic and make it 30 cents per kWh. https://www.electricchoice.com/electricity-prices-by-state/ From the article “My estimate is that the continuous consumption will be 1.7 kW”, so the electricity costs for one year would be about 1.7kW * $0.30/kWhour * 4160hours = $2122. That’s not cheap, but it’s *far* cheaper than the costs he paid to build his used mainframe. If it took you five years to save enough money to buy this mainframe (you are able to save $5k per year), then it would cost much less to run it once you’ve bought it. If you make enough money to buy a $25k mainframe on one year’s salary, then certainly the $2122 for electricity to run it would be pocket change for you. Note that I chose conservative numbers here and IMHO for many people it could be less, however maybe you don’t care about saving energy and run it 24*7 instead, the electricity cost of $4455 is *still* more affordable than the hardware for several years of run time. So yeah, we get the point that mainframes use a lot of electricity, but unless you are in the market for much older or broken hardware, then mainframe hardware costs are more cost prohibitive than electricity. 2019-05-24 12:58 am Anonymous Is it just me, or is everyone buying an IBM mainframe these days? What’s with the sudden resurgence in interest? Two examples across three years? It might just be you 😉 Still I wouldn’t mind seeing more stories about other architectures 2019-05-24 2:42 am ThomasFuhringer I would assume that for learning you could just as well use an emulation. As far as I know that is what most companies nowadays do that are forced to run some legacy mainframe software they are stuck with. 2019-05-24 3:23 pm TommyD I was hoping to get a laptop version… 2019-05-24 10:34 pm kwan_e What’s with the sudden resurgence in interest? I wouldn’t call it a sudden resurgence. IBM has been running “Master the Mainframe” programs that students and graduates take part for over a decade now. So it is in part responsible for getting the word out, albeit slowly and in the back of younger people’s minds. Ironic though that people can now actually afford to act on their interest since companies are abandoning their IBM IT strategy and selling off the hardware. 2019-06-04 6:42 pm Matthew Smith The reason could be that they’ve come down in price, much as the interest in Sun workstations which were selling in the lower 3 figures on eBay in the mid-2000s. I had an Ultra 5 sitting on my desk for years unused, although it added a bit of much-needed height to my eMac.