IBM likes mother-daughterboard schema of PS/2-70 A21 so much it may become standard IBM yesterday duly announced its 80486 upgrade board for the PS/2 Model 70-A21 – for delivery in the fourth quarter and available only to users of the 70-A21, who are required to surrender their 80386 processor module. It is confined to the […]
IBM likes mother-daughterboard schema of PS/2-70 A21 so much it may become standard IBM yesterday duly announced its 80486 upgrade board for the PS/2 Model 70-A21 – for delivery in the fourth quarter and available only to users of the 70-A21, who are required to surrender their 80386 processor module. It is confined to the one PS/2 model because that is the only one that is configured with the processor on a separate daughterboard, although IBM likes the idea of upgrading users simply by changing the processor board, and is likely to extend the concept to other models in the future. Called the PS/2 486/25 Power Platform, the board is claimed to offer up to 80% higher performance in business applications than the 80386 CPU it replaces, and up to three times the performance in numeric-intensive applications. The board includes the 25MHz 80486, which has integrated maths co processor, cache memory controller with 8Kb of internal cache memory, and replaces the multi-chip equivalent that makes up the 80386 processor. The new board – which has to be fitted by a dealer – costs $4,000 – UKP3,000 in the UK, and people who want one will have to buy the Model 70 A21 first. AIX Unix will not be available for the new processor until the first quarter of 1990. In the US, but not, apparently in the UK, IBM announced substantial price cuts on this – it falls 20% to $9,000, and the maths co-processors for 70s and 80s are also reduced – the 16MHz 80387 for the Model 80 falls 11% to $800, the 20MHz one by 7.7% to $1,200 and the 25MHz one now costs $1,300. Multi-media Audio Visual Connection With such a powerful new processor, IBM clearly needs a way to neutralise the threat of all that power to its proprietary architectures, and power-hungry applications are clearly the answer. So, announced in the US but not yet in the UK – is new Audio Visual Connnection software, AVC, designed to enable PS/2 users to combine and edit sound, pictures and text into stories and presentations for the classroom and for a wide range of business applications – such as employee training, marketing and retail displays. The Audio Visual Connection supports exact synchronising and mixing of audio, video and text; image enhancement using IBM-patented algorithms that yield stunning pictures in as many as 256 colours; the ability to change the size and location of images on a display screen and to rotate them; the ability to move text over an image without disturbing the underlying image; Hypertext-like techniques that enable the user to link text with related images, audio, special sequences or related subjects in a random manner; animation, which can be achieved by rapidly displaying a series of images or graphics; and on-line help. It runs under OS/2 Standard and Extended Editions, and under MS-DOS 4.0 on 80286, 80386 or 80486 processors and needs a minimum 2.5Mb of internal memory on the machine. It costs $500 from September in the US. Video Capture Adaptor for images For use with it is the PS/2 Video Capture Adaptor/A, a Micro Channel board that can capture a single image at a time from a video camera, videotape or videodisc machine, or a PS/2 screen. The images are converted from analogue to digital signals, and compressed and stored on a PS/2 hard disk. They can be recalled and displayed on any VGA monitor, and can be resized and combined using AVC’s cut and paste commands. Because the images are in digital form, colours can be altered, and drawings and text can be added as desired; it costs $2,250 from September in the US. Audio Capture for storing sound There is also a PS/2 Audio Capture/Playback Adaptor to get the sound into the thing: it is a Micro Channel adaptor card enabling AVC users to capture high-quality recorded voice or stereo music from standard devices such as compact disk players, microphones and cassette players. Audio is digitised, compressed and stored in the PS/2 hard disk. The sound can be edited, allowing for clipping and combining of sound tracks end-to-end or one on top of another. It’s $565 from September. Video links for Knowledge
Tool IBM has also enhanced its mainframe-based KnowledgeTool expert system software so that users can perform cooperative processing applications, interactively passing mainframe-based KT data to the PS/2-based Audio Visual Connection program, which can be programmed to respond with appropriate sound and images, so that an expert system designed to help repairmen trouble-shoot a piece of equipment can activate appropriate images and instructions on the workstation, bringing graphics and sound to KnowledgeTool users for the first time. It costs $2,250 to $34,560 depending on the size of the host, this month. And a cool session with IBM UK Here in the UK, a sticky press corp paid quiet tribute to the efficiency of IBM air conditioning, and listened with renewed vigour to IBM explanations as to why it has never been a better time to move to OS/2, PS/2, and Micro Channel Architecture. Fortunately Lanra, a new division of Romtec, dedicated to benchmarking local area network performance, had been invited along to present some independent – if well-timed – findings. Six different tests later, Romtec claimed that Micro Channel Adaptor cards had shown a consistent 800Kbps performance level, way above 8-bit and 16-bit cards. Attendees were also treated to a demonstration of AutoCad, which lined up an 80386-based PS/2 with the new, 80486-based version. Once the button had been pressed, the 486 machine went leaping through, leaving its competitor trailing by some 10 frames. At the inevitable baiting session, IBM did not rule out the possibility of a version of OS/2 specifically designed to exploit the 80486 processor, but was even vaguer than usual as to when it might appear. It also denied that 80486-based PS/2s would eventually start colliding with low-end AS/400s, arguing that with its in-built database, the AS/400 was a very different system.