The Cambridge-based Acorn Computer Group Plc, which specialises in the education market has, along with its contractual foundry VLSI Technology, announced a new chip set, ARM 3, which adds 4Kb of on-board data and instruction cache to Acorn’s RISC machines. VLSI will have the set in volume production by the third quarter of this year, […]
The Cambridge-based Acorn Computer Group Plc, which specialises in the education market has, along with its contractual foundry VLSI Technology, announced a new chip set, ARM 3, which adds 4Kb of on-board data and instruction cache to Acorn’s RISC machines. VLSI will have the set in volume production by the third quarter of this year, selling versions at speeds up to 20MHz. This latest version of the main processor in Acorn’s RISC family integrates over 300,000 transistors and Harvey Coleman, the company’s managing director, is confident that it will further increase Acorn’s price-performance advantages over rival companies. The announcement was made as Acorn revealed that it had weathered the losses it made last year and had returned to profit with a pre-tax figure of UKP1.1m on turnover up 8.5% to UKP39.2m. According to the Times Educational Supplement, Acorn still dominates the education market, cornering 62% of all machines sold in schools. The education sector accounts for half of the company’s turnover which has seen a lot of growth in the tertiary sector. Coleman feels that the Education Reform Act will bring even more business the company’s way since the new national curriculum stresses information technology, while Acorn hopes that its R140 will become the standard educational package within the Unix environment. Furthermore, with Acorn’s internally fitted Econet module, machines already in schools can act as terminals in the multi-tasking Unix box. Coleman was confident that sales of the Master Series computer would not decline since it is a machine that teachers feel comfortable with. At present it is still in high demand, and Acorn has sold more than 200,000 units since its launch three years ago, and claims that demand was higher for it over the year than expected. However, the Archimedes range of computers overtook sales of the Master Series by value during the year, and as recently reported (CI No 1,154) Acorn has added three new models to the 400 series. In particular, it sees the new 410 as a potentially strong revenue earner among its professional dealer base because of its expansion possibilities with the 1:1 interleaved memory. The Archimedes series, while initially targeted at the fireside or hobbyist market (which currently accounts for about a quarter of Acorn’s business) has found customers in education, government departments and large corporations, and is used as the standard machine for training in the prison service. There was no news regarding Sanyo’s second-sourcing activities. For the future, Acorn sees Unix as an incremental business within the fast growing workstation market; intends to retain its focus on the educational sector; and looks forward to working more closely with its 80% shareholder Olivetti SpA in the Unix standards arena.