IBM has introduced the highest performance microprocessor in the computing industry with the launch of the Performance Optimisation with Enhanced RISC 2 (reduce-instruction set computing) (Power2) system. The technology flows from IBM's involvement with Motorola and Apple in developing the single chip Power technology. The Power2 microprocessor has extraordinary high performance, allowing a half billion operations per second. It has nearly double the performance of IBM's existing Power-based RISC System/6000 models. Power2 can run, without modification, the more than 6,500 existing software applications available for the AIX/6000, the operating system for the RISC System/6000. Jeff Mason, IBM's general manager of worldwide marketing for its advanced workstations and systems division, said Power2 architecture would allow users a range of technically engineered workstations catering to needs from high volume, high performance applications to small business-based PCs. IBM sees an on-going series of applications for the Power2, from PC-sized units, through to expanded workstations, configured according to the users' needs with near mainframe processing power. IBM said that its all-encompassing approach to an integrated, expandable system was the most exciting part of the breakthrough in technology of the Power2. The most basic Power PC will be similar to existing PCs on the market. However, if the user wants higher applications, he can take advantage of the Power PC to add advanced features to the system without having to acquire hardware adapters. Dave Cassano, vice-president of marketing of IBM's advanced workstations and systems division, said: ''[Power2] is a great platform for new applications and a high-volume platform for some of the multimedia applications where it will lower the cost of the entry point for some of those applications.'' Certainly, for users contemplating downsizing from a mainframe configuration, the POWER2 system may offer a competitive alternative by delivering as much performance but with an added flexibility of a workstation system. to adapt over time to different needs. Just as relevant, in the current climate where the workstation microprocessor is the preferred option for start-up users with a need for expandable, sophisticated systems, the POWER2 architecture will merit a closer look.