The new VAX 8974 and 8978 systems announced yesterday by DEC amount to rather less than meets the eye in that they are little more than four- and eight-processor VAXclusters of the 8700 processor packaged up as integrated systems, with all software bundled into the price. In a VAXcluster, each processor runs under its own copy of the VMS operating system, and the new machines therefore represent a stop-gap to the true multiprocessing release of the VMS operating system that is expected out later this year. The new machines confer a substantial degree of fault-tolerance, with volume shadowing on disk, and are not brought down by any single system failure. Main memory for the 8974 goes to 512Mb, and the machine starts at $2.57m, delivering up to 25 times the performance of a VAX-11/780; main memory on the 8978 goes to 1,024Mb, it offers up to 50 times an 11/780 and costs from $4.79m. The company, as expected (CI No 600), accompanied the announcement with the SA-482 disk subsystem storing 2.488Gb and consisting of four 622Mb drives; the disk unit is standard on the new VAXes and available for both VAX and PDP-11 systems; it costs $48,000. New software announced with the machines includes VAX Data Distribution, a new facility for use with the RDB/VMS relational database, which enables data to be distributed either within one VAX or across VAXes either by extraction to create subsets of the main database, or by replication in full of the database. It costs $1,800 on a MicroVAX II, $27,000 on an 8800. Other enhancements in the new 2.2 release of RDB/VMS include a C pre-compiler, and support for the new VAX/SQL. VAX/SQL is $1,770 on a MicroVAX to $35,400 on an 8800; the new RDB release is $7,080 on a Micro VAX, $35,400 on an 8800. There is also a new release, 3.2, of the Codasyl-compliant DBMS database that improves performance up to 100% in some applications and comes with an improved statistics package: it costs $10,920 on a MicroVAX II, $54,600 on an 8800. There is also a new VAX Performance Advisor performance monitor and tuning aid costing from $5,500. The first 8974 is going to Chemical Bank in New York. All the products are available almost at once in the US.