Computer Business Review


CBR Staff Writer

18:30, January 12 1992

Hewlett unveils surprise entry-level Bushmaster 705 Snake, launches long-awaited 710

As reported last Wednesday (CI No 1,833), Hewlett-Packard Co is this week to accompany the launch of its long-awaited HP 9000 Model 710 Bushmaster Snake workstation with the introduction of the Model 705 Bushmaster Junior, an unexpected low-end Snake system machine costing just under $5,000 - UKP4,000 in the UK. Until news of the 705 baby broke last week, the new 710 box had been thought to be the entry point to the 700 series. Junior, which even Hewlett-Packard didn't expect to release so soon, is an expandable diskless workstation based on a 35MHz version of the Precision Architecture RISC chip. The 35 MIPS unit will reportedly perform at 34 SPECmarks or 8 MFLOPS double precision Linpack. The price tag may prove a bit deceptive since the base unit includes only 8Mb internal memory, not really enough to run the average X Window or networking software that customers would use on the box. Hewlett-Packard declines to talk about the number of units it thinks it can sell aside from saying it hopes this will be lots, but even Hewlett admits that there will be what it termed a higher connect rate for the 16Mb version priced at $6,340. The 705 comes only with a 19 grey scale tube, offering eight image planes. What makes the box more appealing, perhaps, is its configurability. Users can add two 420Mb drives for $2,500 each or a 420Mb drive and a $500 removable floppy, or a $1,000, 600Mb CD-ROM, or a $2,500, 2Gb, digital audio tape drive. It can also handle either thick or thin Ethernet and comes with two RS232 ports, one SCSI and Centronics port and an audio input-output port. By comparison, but scorned by Hewlett as anaemic, Sun Microsystems Inc's diskless ELC unit is priced at $5,000 - UKP4,000 - for 20 SPEC marks, 8Mb and 17 monochrome screen. Sun's IPX, with two 207Mb drives, lists for $12,000 - UKP9,750 - for 24.6 SPECmarks. Hewlett is quoting 90-day delivery for the 705 right now but by April hopes to bring that down to two weeks. It is targeting the financial market, desktop publishing, software engineering, customer service and personal productivity with the 705. The 705 rollout could overshadow the introduction of its big brother, the long-expected 710, itself distinguished by being the first 50 plus MIPS box priced under $10,000 (CI No 1,792). Hewlett, which expected to have 2,000 Bushmaster units out at customer sites by this week, quoted the 50MHz machine's performance at 57.9 MIPS, 49.7 SPECmarks and 12.2 MFLOPS. Standard is 16Mb RAM on all 710 configurations with the entry-level priced at $9,490 (UKP7,515) for a 19 grey-scale screen; $11,490 (UKP9,115) buys a 16 colour model and $13,990 (UKP11,115) a 19 colour. All models are diskless. Delivery is in two weeks. Product marketing manager Chander Khanna claims the competition won't have time to digest the 705 and 710 price points before the company hits them with another body blow. Without being specific, he said to expect further Snake developments at the low, medium and high end. A product plan chart showed at the launch included 115 and 140 SPECmark boxes for release this year (possibly the spring), a 50 SPECmark deep low-end box for 1993, and two-to-eight-way multiprocessors with performance of from 140 to 400 SPECmarks for 1993 and 1994.

OSF/1 on Precision Architecture; Snakes win new accounts, but still quantity hitches

All members of the Hewlett-Packard Co Snake family run its HP-UX Unix implementation, but the firm says users can now have OSF/1 on any of its Precision Architecture RISC machines, if they specifically require it. The first quarter of 1993 will finally see an OSF/1 version of HP-UX - this will be binary-compatible with previous HP-UX iterations. For Apollo users, Hewlett Packard says it is speeding the process of rolling Domain funct ionality - like Apollo token ring - into HP-UX, and that will also go forward into the merged OSF/1 offering. As far as offering application programming interfaces - like those now being undertaken under the auspici

es of the ACE initiative - so that its OSF/1 environment could also host Unix System V.4 applications (and vice versa), Hewlett-Packard says it isn't sure whether these are going to be required, and the company adds that it is, in any case, pinning its tail on the Open Software Founda tion's Architecture Neutral Distribution Format technology to do this kind of job. Hewlett-Packard is claiming price/performance leadership at all the significant price points in the workstation marketplace thanks to the Snakes. According to data it said was at least two-months-old, the Snakes family has bought the firm at least 500 new customers, defined as either being accounts poached from Sun Microsystems Inc, IBM Corp or Digital Equipment Corp, or companies that never used workstation before. Hewlett-Packard claims that the 705 and 710 offer at least twice the performance of any competitive machine on the market for every one of their characteristics - floating point, graphics, integer, two- and three-dimensional. The manufacturer says it doesn't see much competition from DEC, and notes happily that IBM has no low-end, while Hewlett has replaced its low-end in less than 10 months. If, true to rumours, IBM does come up with something soon, Hewlett supposes, this will still be 23 to 24 months after the company came up with the RS/6000. Meanwhile, Hewlett figures that its Certified Workstation Reseller programme, now numbering about 50 dealers, should be good for a few of the new 705s and 710s, though the programme is in gear-up mode. Others reckon this schedule is too aggressive since Hewlett-Packard is still having trouble getting adequate yield on the 66MHz chips, used in the existing 730 and 750 Snakes (CI No 1,810). As a result, 730s are hard to get, and Hewlett is shipping 750s as fast as it can. The best these sources look for in the short term is a 760 at 100 SPECmarks, based on a 80MHz or 85MHz Precision Architecture chip. A detriment to the Bushmasters, which rivals will surely pick up on, is the inability to upgrade from a 705 to a 710 or a 710 to a 720, possibly also a factor of yield; certainly the technology doesn't stand in the way.


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