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Frequently Asked Questions: IBM Corporation -- V1.6, October 9, 2001
Part 1

Mark T. Chapman

Due to the length of this document it has been divided into two parts.

(Note: Some of the information in this FAQ was adapted from FAQs on the JDSU and AMZN message boards. My thanks to the respective authors. Any opinions expressed here are mine or that of other posters whose messages I link to, and not necessarily those of IBM or The Motley Fool.)

Disclaimer: The following information was compiled by me with no review or approval by IBM. Any errors are my responsibility.

Welcome to the IBM message board at The Motley Fool. The purpose of this document is to answer some frequently asked questions about the company. It should help get you started on the learning curve as you research IBM. This information should be only the beginning of doing your own Due Diligence review (research) of IBM before investing--not a substitute. No matter how much some of us like IBM the company and IBM the investment, it is not for everyone. Don't take anything you read here or on message boards as gospel. Collect information and make up your own mind.

For more general investment education, refer to such sources as The Motley Fool ( and, Smart Money University (, and the Vanguard Group (, among others.

If you are new to The Motley Fool check out the following post for helpful tips on navigating and interacting with others here at the site:

Many, but not all, of the participants on this board find this company interesting and its business potential a compelling investment opportunity. Please be polite and considerate of others, even those with whom you disagree. ALSO, DO NOT TYPE YOUR MESSAGES ENTIRELY IN CAPS, AS THAT IS INTERPRETED AS SHOUTING!

Important: Before posting a question, first read the posts from the last week or so. Often, your questions will already have been answered there (especially if it is about stock splits, recent quarterly/annual report results, or other significant event). Asking a question that has already been asked and answered 10 times in the last week not only annoys many people, but it clutters up the board, making it less useful than it could be.

If you think you may have a very basic, general question about investing and are embarrassed to ask it for fear of being "flamed" by the long-time denizens of this board, why not try the Ask a Foolish Question board ( These kinds of questions are its very reason for being.

In the meantime, invest a little time reading this document. It should answer some of your questions, provide you with valuable links to other information and web sites, and give you a better feel for the company.

Part 1:
1) IBM Basics
2) IBM's Long-Term Potential *** Updated ***

1) IBM Basics
The company's stock trades on the NYSE under the symbol IBM. The Motley Fool provides a snapshot of the company at:

For IBM's description of the company, go to:

You can look at the stock's performance over the last year at:, or set up your own customized charts for IBM and other companies at:

See IBM's financials at:

IBM's home page can be found at:, or for the IBM Personal Systems Group (the division that makes the "little iron" products).

2) IBM's Long-Term Potential
IBM has tremendous growth potential over the next decade. The following has two parts. The first lists a number of long-term hardware component and manufacturing contracts, as well as outsourcing contracts (services). The second section describes a number of areas in which IBM management and technology is leading the way into the 21st century, in terms of both cutting-edge products and licensing patents to others.

Here is a great BusinessWeek article, from December 1999, about IBM's e-commerce potential: Be sure to read the Gerstner interview.

And as far as the industry's view of Lou Gerstner's ability to lead IBM goes:

Mr. Gerstner was selected as IndustryWeek's "Technology Leader of the Year" in December 1999:

In November 2000, IBM made IndustryWeek's list of the world's 100 best-managed companies:

Recently, when 4,000 senior executives in the electronics industry were asked which CEOs they would trust all of their personal assets and finances to, if they had to, Lou Gerstner was ranked #3 on the list:

Long-term Contracts
IBM has signed tens of billions of dollars in long-term contracts with customers for outsourcing services, chip manufacturing, and even finished goods manufacturing. Click here for a listing of dozens of such contracts:

According to an article discussing only the recent IBM outsourcing deals, as of late 1999 there was a backlog of $58B in IBM long-term outsourcing contracts just waiting to be completed. So it looks like IBM Global Services (IGS) will be sitting pretty for the next decade. In addition to outsourcing, the long-term component manufacturing deals kick in another $35B-$40B. That's $90 to $100B already locked in, without even including computer and software sales.

Cutting-Edge Technologies
All of this money in guaranteed-income contracts doesn't even include the additional billions to be made in patent licensing (see below for more on patents) for advanced technologies. The following state of the art technologies are either already available from IBM or are just on the horizon:

Copper chips, first released by IBM, in 1997, advances in optical lithography, switch-on-a-chip, and other advanced manufacturing technologies go to: Eventually all computer chips will use copper interconnects. (IBM makes the copper PowerPC chips for the Apple G4 computers.) For an overview of copper chip technology, go to: For a close-up photo of an actual copper chip, go to: For an artistic shot, showing the chip sitting inside a 1/2" copper pipe, surrounded by foam insulation, go to:

Silicon-on-Insulator technology, introduced by IBM in 1999 (, reduces signal loss due to parasitic capacitance, resulting in chips that can run 25-35% faster with the same power, or run the same speed on lower power.

(IBM was the first to develop and implement copper chip and SOI technology, and the first to combine them into one chip. Late in 2000, IBM also became the first to combine these technologies with Low-k materials.)

Low-k dielectric insulation technology ( both reduces power usage and increases speed by up to 30%. Low-k dielectric insulation shields millions of individual copper circuits on a chip, reducing electrical interference between wires that can hinder chip performance and waste power. IBM was the first semiconductor manufacturer to perfect a technique for building chips with a true low-k dielectric material which better insulates copper wiring, helping electronic signals move faster and more efficiently through a chip. *** Updated ***

Another technique for reducing chip power consumption is the use of advanced materials like Silicon Germanium (SiGe), where IBM is an industry leader, and the first to develop a technique for manufacturing products using silicon germanium ( Here is more on IBM's SiGe efforts:

For an article on how IBM is using copper chips, Silicon-on-Insulator, Low-K Dielectic, and Silicon Germanium together in chips, read:

Double Data Rate (DDR) Memory technology, introduced by IBM in 2000, provides twice the memory bandwidth of previous memory generations, creating a high-speed communication pipeline between the processor and memory in a server system, allowing the system to operate more efficiently. (

Memory eXpansion Technology (MXT) today doubles the memory capacity of IBM servers, and eventually personal computers as well (, by using memory compression. This allows, for example, 1GB of RAM to hold as much as 2GB of data, with no effective loss in memory access speed. In fact, computers using 1GB of MXT memory run significantly faster than computers with 1GB of conventional memory, because disk swapping can be reduced or even eliminated. *** Updated ***

"Pixie dust" (Technically called antiferromagnetically coupled [AFC] media.) This innovation introduces a thin layer of the element ruthenium onto the disks inside hard drives, allowing more data to be packed onto a disk. Before AFC, hard drives could store about 20 gigabits of data per square inch. The first generation of IBM AFC-equipped disk drives shipped in spring 2001 with capacities of 25.7 gigabits per square inch. By 2003 that limit will be pushed to 100 Gb/si. This will enable 3.5" desktop drives to reach 400GB storage levels, notebooks 200GB capacities, and one-inch Microdrive hard disks up to 6GB. ( *** New Addition ***

IBM is also the first to combine a slender notebook computer with a digital notepad in a convenient portfolio. The IBM ThinkPad TransNote includes the IBM ThinkScribe digital notepad, digital pen and software to capture handwritten notes on paper and transfer them to the computer for further processing ( *** New Addition ***

Other high-performance/power-reducing/ergonomic technologies that should be available soon and which will be needed in order to keep pushing the performance envelope in the coming decades, include:

Projection Reduction Exposure With Variable Axis Immersion Lenses, or PREVAIL (; look in the left-hand panel for an article called "Sharpening lithography"), and a technique for reducing cross-talk between components, resulting in 30% faster chips (

Another technology, called PICA (for Picosecond Imaging Circuit Analysis), allows troubleshooters to analyze the electron flow of circuits buried beneath many other layers of circuits, by capturing the weak, transient light pulses that are emitted by individual switching transistors, through the solid backside of the chip (

Called "Strained silicon", this technology stretches the material, speeding the flow of electrons through transistors to increase performance and decrease power consumption in semiconductors. It is expected to boost chip speeds by up to 35 percent when it finds its way into products (perhaps by 2003). ( *** New Addition ***

To see more on what IBM Microelectronics is up to, read their quarterly online magazine (and back issues) at:

Future Technologies
The following technologies show great potential, but may be several years from commercial availability:

In 1986 IBM Zurich Research Laboratory scientists Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer received the Nobel prize for physics for their invention of the Scanning Tunneling Microscope (STM), which allowed scientists for the first time to manipulate individual atoms ( Later in the 1980s Binnig went on to develop the Atomic Force Microscope (AFM), which provided even greater precision in viewing, placing and arranging individual atoms (

Now, using AFM technology, IBM is currently working on an experimental molecular-level storage system nicknamed Millipede, already capable of storage levels 100 times denser than current hard drive technology (

Magnetic Random Access Memory (MRAM) works like normal Dynamic RAM (DRAM) memory, except that it stores information magnetically, rather than electronically. This gives it the permanence of Flash memory and the speed of Static RAM (SRAM)-because it doesn't need to be refreshed-but with the low cost of DRAM. This technology offers the possibility of "instant on" devices, with much longer battery life (because the battery is not used to keep the memory charged up):

For a new method of building disk drives, check out IBM's experimental "self-assembling" magnetic storage technique, also potentially affording 100X today's storage density:

Interlocked Pipelined CMOS circuits (, will offer up to five times the speed of current chips, with half the power usage. In the same press release, at the bottom, are brief synopses of other upcoming technologies, including High-frequency, short-pipeline processors, as well as MRAM and Embedded DRAM, both of which will offer the speed of SRAM memory with the storage density of DRAM.

V-Groove technology is a method for making transistor interconnects ever shorter. The smaller they are, the faster electrons can travel between components, and the faster the chip can process data. V-Grooves should allow the interconnects to shrink by a factor of 18, from today's .18 microns to .01, while also reducing cross-talk between components (,4586,2614200,00.html).

Carbon nanotubes offer the possibility of extremely small, fast, low-powered computers. Using transistors and semiconductors made from carbon nanotubes, silicon will be able to be replaced in the next 10-20 years as the material of choice for computer chips. IBM has developed the first technology for mass-producing these nanotubes: *** New Addition ***

Nano-scale circuits may be possible in the future using the "quantum mirage" technique developed by IBM for using the wave nature of electrons, rather than conventional wiring, to transfer data:

In addition, IBM is exploring the use of individual atoms and subatomic nuclei as sophisticated quantum computers (

For a really wild technology, check out Spray-on flexible transistorsat ( *** Updated ***

For more on the physics behind many of these technologies, go to:

Wearable Computers
IBM has demonstrated a prototype wearable computer (, about the size of a portable CD player, with a headset (about the size of a pair of glasses with one lens) for video output, with voice recognition. Here are a couple of updated articles: and IBM will be designing and building wearable computers for Xybernaut, Inc.

In a more recent development, IBM has shown a prototype of a wristwatch PC:

In a related technology, how about the PAN (Personal Area Network) (

IBM is the largest supercomputer vendor on the planet ( IBM used the technology pioneered in the development of Deep Blue, the computer that beat world chess champion Garry Kasparov (, to develop the next generation of IBM supercomputers, surpassing Sun and Cray/SGI with 40% of the world's 500 most powerful computer installations ( This is an increase of 40 percent from one year ago. By contrast, the No. 2 vendor, Sun Microsystems has 81 systems on the list, down 33 percent from a year ago. The use of IBM copper chips has made Deep Blue's successor's even faster ( *** Updated ***

In fact, IBM recently shipped the fastestsupercomputer in the world ( to the U.S. Department of Energy. Called ASCI White, it uses 8,192 copper IBM POWER 3-II microprocessors to perform 12.3 teraflops (12.3 trillion calculations per second) today, and will handle 100 teraflops by 2004. It is approximately 1,000 times faster than Deep Blue.

IBM also recently shipped the second fastest supercomputer ( to the National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) in California for research projects such as simulating internal engine combustion. The computer is capable of a theoretical peak of 3.8 trillion calculations a second The research may lead to automobile engines that consume less gasoline and emit fewer pollutants. This means that IBM produced six of the top 10 most powerful machines, and 20 of the top 50, while Sun and Hewlett-Packard do not have a single system in the top 50 (as of June 19, 2001). *** New Addition ***

And IBM is going even further, with Blue Gene (, a 1 million processor computer that will eventually process more than 1 petaflop (quadrillion floating point operations) per second. It will be used in biological research for the Human Genome Project. (Blue Gene will put not one, but 32, microprocessors in each chip. Each motherboard will contain sixty-four such chips Each of Blue Gene's 64 computing towers will hold eight of these motherboards.)

In addition, IBM is at the forefront of the emerging "Beowulf" class of supercomputers--those composed of dozens, or even thousands, of individual low-cost computers tied together with Linux and customized software in a massively parallel network to share computing tasks. Here is an article about Beowulf, in general:, and one briefly describing what IBM is doing at the University of New Mexico:

Storage Area Networks (SANs)
IBM is a strong up-and-comer in the Storage Area Network field, selling more than 1,000 IBM Enterprise Storage Servers (code-named "Shark") with total disk storage of more than 1.5 petabytes (million gigabytes, or quadrillion bytes), just in the first 95 days on the market in late 1999. Here is a link: IBM finished 1999 as #1 in the storage services business (, with $3.6B in revenues.

Hard Disk Drive Technology
IBM continues to lead the way in hard drive technology, by offering the biggest/smallest/densest hard drives on the market. (In November 2000, IBM was awarded the National Medal of Technology, for the seventh time, for its pioneering work in data storage: IBM previously won this award in 1995 for its pioneering work in the development of materials essential to optical disk storage.)

Consider the following. Among all its many other accomplishments, IBM developed:

1) The first computer disk drive, the RAMAC 305, in 1956 (not mention the floppy "diskette" drive, in 1971) and the modern "Winchester" disk drive in 1973. *** Updated ***

2) The first 1 GB hard disk drive-the IBM 3380, in 1980).

3) The first 1 GB 3.5" hard disk drive, in 1991).

4) The first 1 GB 1" hard disk drive, in 2000).

5) The first (and so far only) 75 GB or larger 3.5" drive ( IBM Deskstar 75GXP.

6) The first (and so far only) 48GB or larger notebook computer (2.5") drive ( IBM Travelstar 48GH. It is the largest mobile hard drive on the market--running at 5,400 RPMs, rather than the typical (for a notebook) 4,200 RPMs. It and its smaller siblings the 30GN and 15GN are also the fastest (at 5400 RPMs) and the quietest drives (at 3.5, 3.1 and 2.7 Bels, respectively). In fact, they are quieter during read/write operations than other drives are while idling. They also break the world record for storage density (17.1 gigabits/sq. in.) set by the IBM Travelstar 32GH a year earlier, with areal densities of 21.7, 25.7 and 25.7 gigabits per square inch. *** New Addition ***

(In the lab, IBM has achieved densities as high as 35.3 gigabits per square inch, giving a hint of drives-to-be. For more information, go to

7) The revolutionary 1GB, 512MB, and 340MB Microdrive (the size of a quarter dollar, and weighing 16 grams--less than an AA battery) that can be used in digital cameras, MP3 music players, handheld PCs, and other small devices ( (340MB) and (512MB/1GB)). It is also available in a PCMCIA (PC Card) Type II package for use as removable notebook computer storage. The Microdrive is so rugged it has even been used on U.S. space shuttle missions (STS98 and STS102). For drive specs, go to: For a current list of devices that can use the Microdrive, see: The IBM Microdrive home page can be found at: *** Updated ***

8) The first high-speed 15,000 RPM disk drive to reach a capacity of 36GB ( *** New Addition ***

In addition, 40% of all new laptop hard drives are made and sold by IBM, and IBM ships more state of the art Giant Magneto-Resistive read/write heads for use in OEM hard drives than anyone else. (See IBM produced the first GMR heads, in 1997 (

In 1999, IBM received more than 40 awards and honors worldwide for its hard drives and storage technologies. In 2000, IBM received more than 400 storage-related patents. *** Updated ***

For a list, and descriptions, of "IBM firsts" in storage technology, visit

Display Technologies
IBM has produced many advances in display technologies over the years, including the IBM 3270 "green screen" terminal, and the VGA and XGA video industry standards. Now IBM has introduced a revolutionary advance in LCD display resolution, code-named Roentgen, producing a 2,560 x 2,048 resolution on a 16.3-inch LCD, at 200 dpi (a typical CRT screen only has between 80 and 105 dots per inch). ( and

An even newer technology for building LCD flat-panel displays is called "ion-beam liquid-crystal-alignment". It vastly improves screen quality and viewing angles while saving manufacturers millions of dollars in costs and speeds up the production process. The breakthrough technique uses beams of charged particles to align the liquid crystals on the substrate, replacing the century-old mechanical process of rubbing the substrate with a velvet cloth! ( *** New Addition ***

With all the focus on hardware and services, many people don't know that IBM is one of the world's largest software vendors as well, with revenues of nearly $13B in 2000 (including such products as the DB2 multi-platform database, VM and MVS mainframe operating systems, and CICS, MQSeries, LCCM and WebSphere "middleware" software). IBM's Lotus subsidiary has more than 55 million users for its Notes e-mail/database/software development system. Tivoli, another IBM subsidiary, provides much of the world's systems/network management software, including its flagship TME 10 product, and Tivoli Storage Manager backup system. IBM also continues to be a leader in speech recognition software, where it was an early pioneer ( *** Updated ***

With the recent, ongoing, boom in e-commerce, services has turned into one of the biggest growth segments in the technology industry. IBM Global Services (IGS) is the largest player in the field, and the fastest growing part of IBM, accounting for approximately 40% of IBM's revenues in 2000. Here is a quote from an IBM press release:

"IBM Global Services is the world's largest information technology services provider, with 2000 revenues of more than $32 billion. Services is the fastest growing part of IBM, with more than 138,000 professionals serving customers in 160 countries. IBM Global Services integrates IBM's broad range of capabilities -- services, hardware, software, and research -- to help companies of all sizes realize the full value of information technology. IBM, which manages more than 40,000 servers in 133 data centers worldwide, is the global leader in Web server management. The company has more than 15,000 e-business services professionals worldwide."

In the list of major long-term contracts signed by IBM, above, the ones identified as "outsourcing" are those being fulfilled by IGS. Here is a link to some more information about IGS and the services they provide:

If all of the preceding isn't enough to convince you that IBM should be in your portfolio, read this post by pmccrudden: from February 2000. Some of the numbers (such as market capitalization) are not current, but there is a lot of other good information there.

To see Part 2 of the IBM FAQs, press the Next link (at the top and bottom of this post).
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