MIPS' forthcoming 64-bit 50 MIPS, 1.3m transistor R4000 part, the basis of the ACE consortium's Advanced RISC Computing system, is now taped out, samples are expected within 60 days and volume deliveries are slated for the end of the year. Ray says that the impetus the ACE developers are bringing to the MIPS bandwaggon should enable it to deliver R4000 parts at the same price as Intel Corp's 80386 in future. Licences for the base R4000 architecture start at $2m. Although the hardware element of ACE is now more or less in place, the operating system software issue is still sowing confusion within the industry. To clarify matters, Santa Cruz Operation Inc has taken a leaf out of Unix International's book and put together its own Roadmap for the future of Open Desktop - one of the two operating systems chosen by ACE to run on the MIPS-based hardware specification. Open Desktop 1.0 will conform to release 2.0 of AT&T's System V Interface Definition for Unix, which Santa Cruz reckons will run at least some Unix V.4 applications. Release 2.0 will comply with release 3.0 of the System V Interface Definition, which essentially defines Unix System V.4 compatibility. As far as Microsoft's New Technology, or OS/2 3.0 ACE offering is concerned, Ray says most of it has already been implemented on the MIPS architecture over the last 18 months. When Microsoft first implemented New Technology on Intel's 80860 RISC, MIPS wrote to Bill Gates and said great job, but you've chosen the wrong environment, come and implement it on MIPS. MIPS' own RISC/os implementation of Unix will be integrated with Open Desktop and will eventually be able to support both big endian and little endian applications.