IBM AS/400 customers can expect not only faster performance, but improved support for the content-tagging language XML in a new line of the midrange systems announced this week. Among the servers are the first that use silicon to speed electrical signals to and from transistors. Since silicon transmits electricity more quickly than other materials, IBM claims that its silicon-on-insulator (SOI) technology can boost chip performance by more than 30 per cent compared with older CMOS chips. SOI-based chips also consume less power and are smaller than CMOS chips. The servers also include a dynamically partitionable 24-processor server that is nearly four times faster than current high-end models, IBM said. Also introduced were two lower-end systems, including a dedicated server for running Lotus Domino applications like email, Web serving and customer relationship management tools. Other enhancements to the AS/400 lineup announced last week include support for the content-tagging language XML and an enhanced PC server option that allows users to run Windows 2000 applications on an AS/400. "They have really blown the top off their high end," said Peter Martin editor of "The 400 Group," a newsletter in Dedham, Massachusetts. The increased scalability at the high end, combined with support for dynamic partitioning and XML should help users grow their AS/400 applications during the next few years, said James Garden, an analyst at Technology Business Research, New Hampshire. The servers will be available in August.