You probably remember the good old days, way back… a year ago. That’s when IBM Corp talked enthusiastically about Human Centred Interfaces, about intelligent agents, and how all this would be made possible through the high-speed floating point performance of the PowerPC processor. You probably remember Charlie the disembodied talking head that was to be […]
You probably remember the good old days, way back… a year ago. That’s when IBM Corp talked enthusiastically about Human Centred Interfaces, about intelligent agents, and how all this would be made possible through the high-speed floating point performance of the PowerPC processor. You probably remember Charlie the disembodied talking head that was to be the ultimate in friendly interfaces. It was these software technologies that were going to get the world talking, to get it to take notice of the new Power Personal Computer architecture. You probably also realise that the past tense is being used. That’s not quite fair, Charlie and his cohorts aren’t dead, but they have been delayed. IBM singularly failed to deliver a Human Centered Interface-driven machine last week, but it is at least bundling some powerful multimedia technologies in the new PC Power Series that point in the right direction. Both NT and AIX machines come with IBM’s Ultimedia package built in. Frame-rates are not available, but a demonstration of the machines showed very respectable performance carrying out software decompression of MPEG movies. Likewise, the company is also bundling its Voice Typer dictation system with the machines. Again, this application normally requires an expensive co-processor board, but this is dispensed with in the PowerPC implementation. The new ThinkPad Power Series 820 and 850 laptops are both based on 100MHz 603E processors, and come with 16Mb of memory as standard. The 820 is the smaller machine, an A4-size laptop, with RAM expandable to 48Mb and a 32-bit memory controller.
The 850 can be expanded to 96Mb and has a 64-bit controller, it is also physically slightly larger, to allow for the optional built-in video camera above the screen. Both the desktop Personal Computer Power Series machines, the 830 and 850, use the PowerPC 604 processor, and vary mainly in the number of PCI expansion slots and drive bays. The Personal Computer Power Series 830 (snappy name, huh?) is driven by a 100MHz 604 and comes with three slots and three bays. The 850 has five slots and bays and comes with 100MHz, 120MHz and 133MHz – or at least it will, eventually. At launch, only the 100MHz version is available; the company says that the faster machines will not appear towards the end of July. Both machines have 256Kb of L2 cache as standard, expandabl e to 512Kb. The 820 has a 540Mb or 1Gb hard drive as standard, while the 850 comes with a 728Mb or 1Gb disk. The chassis are virtually identical to IBM’s existing Pentium-based PC 700 machines, apart from a bit of aesthetic work to put a curved bezel on the front. How many of these machines do they look to sell over the next year? US executives were reticent, however a UK representative admitted he expected sales of the Power Series boxes to only total around 2% to 3% of IBM’s UK personal computer shipments – that’s around 2,000 to 3,000 units. Not bad, he claimed for the super-client market. But not exactly the stuff to dislodge Intel Corp from the desktop. Operating systems are Windows NT or AIX; it seems you can have a beta release of OS/2 Warp pre-loaded if you really want it, but while IBM says it will be ready to go in the fourth quarter, most observers substitute year-end.