NEC Corp announced nine new models of its NEC Superstation 4800 series of workstations and SuperServer UP4800 series of servers. The new models also run the new System V.4.2 release of Unix System V, a world first according to NEC. The machines have been priced competitively, bearing in mind the Japanese pricing of Sun Microsystem's Classic and IBM's Powerstation, and the launch was timed on the same day as the announcement of new machines in DEC's Alpha series. NEC has begun to differentiate the 48 series of workstations (named to distinguish but create associations with the Japanese standard PC 98 series) into three categories. The 48-Lite series of desktop machines comes with a colour screen and is aimed at the business market and it includes the new 78 MIPS, 27SPECint92 EWS4800/110LT which comes with NEC's own 1,024 by 768 pixel colour thin film liquid crystal diode screen and is priced in the base configuration at $12,272 and the similarly-rated EWS4800/310, which is the lowest priced Japanese version of System V.4.2 on a desktop RISC workstation, the diskless version being priced at $5,272 and the stand-alone configuration selling for $6,618. The 48 Trad series includes three new models: the 4800/320 - with a 1,024 by 768 pixel display screen and 30% improved cost-performance, the 130 MIPS, 42SPECint92 4800/330 - which is targeted at multimedia applications - and the 130 MIPS, 60SPECint92 4800/360; the Trad line includes the previous generation 4800 models. The 48 Server series includes the new models UP4800/605 and /615, low-priced servers (starting from $14,425) with 32Mb memory and 1Gb storage. The UP4800/625 is targeted at small to mid-size transaction processing environments such as local banking systems and on-line order processing, while the high-end model UP4800/635 is based on a 67MHz R4400 chip and is an expandable configuration.
The performance of the server versions range from 98 to 130 MIPS and 32 to 60 SPECint92. The operating software is available in modular fashion, with Encina having been selected for the transaction processing software, on the basis of its position as the de-facto transaction processing standard, as NEC sees it. NEC says its new focus on the business market instead of the scientific and engineering market is down to the 36% growth in the latter market. Last year NEC shipped 14,200 of the EWS4800 workstations, which was 120% up on normal sales for the previous year - excluding an extraordinary order for 6,000 units from Daiwa Securities carried over from the 1991-92 fiscal year - and anticipates growth to 20,000 shipments this financial year growth which is stable in value terms, according to NEC. This time NEC used a US industrial design firm, Ideo Inc, for design of the exterior of the products, but denies that this presages any move to sales of the workstations in overseas markets. NEC said that initially in markets outside Japan it would look to sales through OEM channels - it currently has OEM relationships with Compagnie des Machines Bull SA, and Stratus Computers Inc, whose fault-tolerant systems it buys for sale in Japan. - Anita Byrnes.