BRITISH entertainment giant Thorn EMI has switched computing platforms in Australia and Asia to IBM AS/400s from Digital's VAXs in a GBP3 million (about HK$35.8 million) move to improve its systems. ''The move is the culmination of 18 months of planning to turn Thorn EMI's systems around,'' director of Thorn's information technology division Phillip Davidson said. ''Our old DEC VAX systems, which were used in New Zealand, Sydney and Melbourne and ran the Thorn EMI Rental Management System, or TERMS, left a bit to be desired, so an executive decision was made to switch systems.'' A number of hardware and software platforms were analysed. IBM's AS/400 platform came out on top in terms of hardware price/performance and applications available for it, Mr Davidson said. ''Thorn EMI is planning major expansions in the Asia-Pacific region,'' Thorn EMI International's Asia-Pacific managing director Steve Laue said. ''But we could not go into these markets with the move to the new system.'' The move involved getting rid of Thorn's existing VAX system - which cost about GBP2.6 million a year to run and had been in use since 1987, according to Mr Davidson - and investing in an AS/400 model 2044 for Australia and model 2041 in Hong Kong. The systems came with 65 gigabytes of hard disk space and 384 MB of main memory, and a 22-GB hard disk system and 128 MB of memory respectively. ''We had a budget of GBP3 million for the whole project, but then IBM knocked A$1.7 million [about HK$9.7 million] off the cost of the system,'' Mr Davidson said. ''This means we bought a whole new powerful system for about the annual operating costs of the DEC system.'' The AS/400s will provide on-line computing power to Thorn's 12 sites in Hong Kong, 30 in New Zealand, 102 in Australia and one in Jakarta. The sites are connected to each other and to Thorn's headquarters in Britain via X.25 virtual private networks.