IBM (IBM) Tuesday rolled out a new version of the zEnterprise mainframe server it first debuted in 2010. The company says it invested $1 billion in the upgraded hardware, which was developed in 18 IBM labs around the world in collaboration with clients.

U.S. banks are big buyers of IBM mainframes and worldwide, 96 out of the top 100 banks use System z, according to IBM spokesperson Joanne Brewer.

The zEC12 server is said to provide 25% more performance per core and 50% greater total system capacity than its predecessor. It includes a tamper-resistant cryptographic co-processor called Crypto Express4S that is designed to provide privacy for transactions and sensitive data.

The new server is also said to provide better performance for analytics, increasing performance of analytic workloads by 30% compared to its predecessor. In addition, the new system supports the IBM DB2 Analytics Accelerator, which incorporates the Netezza data warehouse appliance and lets clients run complex business analytics and operational analytics on the same platform.

The new mainframe also offers IT systems analytics capabilities based on technology from IBM Research. It analyzes internal system messages to provide a near-real-time view of the system's health, including any potential problems. Called IBM zAware, the technology learns from the messages to recognize patterns and quickly pinpoint deviations, using the information to identify unusual system behavior and minimize its impact. IBM STG Lab Services will offer services to help with planning, configuration and implementation of IBM zAware.

IBM says this product lends itself to internal cloud configurations because clients can consolidate thousands of distributed systems onto Linux on zEC12.

zEC12 is the first IBM mainframe to include internal solid state technology with Flash Express, memory technology that can help improve the performance of data intensive applications or workloads where optimal service levels are vital such as customer facing or service applications used by banks, public sector companies and retailers. It's designed to provide improved availability during bursts of system activity experienced at transitional periods such as when financial markets open or holiday periods when online retail transactions are heavy.

Clients can also opt to run zEC12 without a raised datacenter floor — a first for high-end IBM mainframes. With new overhead power and cabling support, clients have more flexibility on where zEC12 is deployed.

zEC12 is the first general-purpose IBM server to incorporate transactional memory technology, which can enable software to provide better support of concurrent operations that use a shared set of data, such as financial institutions' processing of transactions against shared account data.