It is the misfortune of long-awaited events that they tend to suffer from anti-climax, and that seems to have happened with Compaq’s announcement (CI No 1,300) of its EISA bus offerings and its 80486 micro. The most noteworthy revelation to come from the announcements is the high power, low cost performance the new products offer. […]
It is the misfortune of long-awaited events that they tend to suffer from anti-climax, and that seems to have happened with Compaq’s announcement (CI No 1,300) of its EISA bus offerings and its 80486 micro. The most noteworthy revelation to come from the announcements is the high power, low cost performance the new products offer. Systempro, for example, is being promoted as a personal computer system with the power of a minicomputer, on the basis of a Neal Nelson benchmark test in a 60-user environment. According to Compaq, Systempro outperformed both DEC’s VAX 6310 and Hewlett-Packard’s 9000 Series Model 835, being six times faster than the former and three times faster than the latter. Furthermore, Systempro costs between UKP11,000 and UKP19,000 making it a dramatically cheaper product than the VAX or the HP9000. The features contributing to these performance advantages are as follows: a 386/33 system processor board containing the 33MHz 80386 microprocessor, an 82385 cache memory controller, 64Kb of cache memory controller and sockets for 33MHz Weitek 3167 and Intel 80387 numeric co-processors. The thing comes with one or two processors, and users will be able to upgrade to 80486 technology as and when it becomes available by adding a second processor or upgtading to two 80486 CPUs. Optional multiple processors enable users to grow their system from 8 MIPS to 40 MIPS of power. The multiple system processors run multi-user operating systems such as NetWare 386, Unix System V/386, and the new LAN Manager 386/486 (CI No 1,300). Systempro is built round Compaq’s 32-bit Flexible Advanced System Architecture with multiprocessing support, providing separate buses for processor and memory and for input-output peripherals. And then, of course, there is the system’s Extended Industry Standard Architecture expansion bus which enables it to work with 32-bit network interface controllers and 32-bit fixed disk drive array technology, giving respectively a higher network output and increased data transfer. Systempro is available in three models, each shipped with 4Mb of 32-bit random access memory, 11 EISA expansion slots, a 5.25 1.2Mb floppy drive and either a 240Mb, 420Mb or 840Mb fixed drive array. Compaq is happy that dealers will be able to handle a product of this complexity and as with all its products, is offering it only through its dealer network, and is setting up training courses to ensure that its dealers know what’s what. The second product to be announced was the Compaq Deskpro 486/25. Aimed at the computer-aided design, software engineering, database management, financial modelling, networking and multi-user markets, this 486 EISA micro offers 15 MIPS performance and runs MS-DOS, OS/2 and Unix applications. Shipping in January, the Deskpro costs UKP10,500 for a 120Mb fixed disk drive, UKP13,000 for 320Mb models and UKP15,000 for 650Mb disk drive versions. Not wishing to cut its nose off to spite its face, Compaq has announced UK price reductions averaging 6% across most Deskpro models of the 386/20e and the 386/25. Compaq continued its product launch by unveiling LAN Manager 386/486 for MS-DOS and OS/2 based networks. It features a 32-bit version of OS/2 High Performance File System and EISA device driver support. The LAN Manager requires a 80386 or 80486-based Compaq micro as the server with a recommended 9Mb of memory. It is available in two packages, the standard system for up to 10 users costing UKP1,800 and the advanced system costing UKP5,000 for an unlimited number of users, with the multiple system processor support option added for UKP1,800. As is usual with these statement of direction-type product announcements a plethora of vendors made their support known for EISA. For example, and of most significance, the new Santa Cruz Operation multiprocessing extension to its Unix System V/386 Release 3.2 will take full advantage of the EISA bus, which means, following the logic behind EISA, that users should be able to make the step up from MS-DOS to Unix.