Convex Computer Corp, as reported briefly (CI No 1,668), made the biggest announcement in its history last week, moving up into the supercomputer world with the launch of the Gallium Arsenide C-3800, which competes with mid-range machines from Cray Research Inc, and the C-3400, which uses Gallium Arsenide for critical parts of the system and […]
Convex Computer Corp, as reported briefly (CI No 1,668), made the biggest announcement in its history last week, moving up into the supercomputer world with the launch of the Gallium Arsenide C-3800, which competes with mid-range machines from Cray Research Inc, and the C-3400, which uses Gallium Arsenide for critical parts of the system and RISC technology. The Richardson, Texas-based outfit also came out with faster models of its four-year-old C-2 line, renamed the C3200. All machines in the new C-3 series are binary compatible. The high-end C3800 – available in four models – comes with from one to eight processors using 0.8 micron, 45,000 gate per chip GaAs arrays from Vitesse Semiconductor Corp with a clock cycle of 16.67nS, delivering 2 GFLOPS performance in 32-bit operation and 1 GFLOPS in 64-bit mode. They come with up to 4Gb real and 4Gb virtual memory. The C3800s also incorporate an expert system-based diagnostic tool housed in a Sun Microsystems Inc Sparcstation connected to the machine. The six-model C3400 departmental system also comes with from one to eight processors using Convex-designed, Texas Instruments Inc-fabricated, 150,000 gate-per-chip BiCMOS arrays implementing a RISC processor that runs at 50MHz; it comes with up to 4Gb memory and delivers 800 MFLOPS performance. Convex expects to double the performance of its RISC architecture each year. The C3200 server comes in four models with one to four processors with a 40nS cycle time, delivering up to 200 MFLOPS performance with up to 2Gb memory. All C-3 models come with 8Kb local cache on each CPU. All run the ConvexOS Unixalike, which the company says is moving towards compliance with X/Open’s portability guide. Convex, a member of both Unix International and the Open Software Foundation, says it will evolve its operating system to be compatible with both Unix System V.4 and OSF/1. Communications options supported on the C-3 series include the High Performance Parallel Interface HiPPI, Ethernet, UltraNet, Hyperchannel, OpenConnect, DECnet, TCP/IP, Network File System and the HP/Apollo Network Computing System. Convex’s next move will be into the massively parallel market, with systems using hundreds of processors expected in around three years. It also plans to continue to enhance its existing C-2 series. Prices for the C-3 range go from $350,000 to $8m at the top – the C3800 ships in 30 days. Convex claims an installed base of 798 systems evenly distributed between the US, Europe and the rest of the world, with 1,100 applications up and running across the ranges. It says that 28% of its installations are in the computer-aided engineering market, 24% in government and aerospace, 16% in the chemical and 12% in the petroleum industry.