Ing C Olivetti & Co SpA plans to enter the volume workstation business with high-performance machines built around Digital Equipment Corp’s Alpha RISC that will compete with the likes of Sun Microsystems Inc, Hewlett-Packard Co and IBM Corp – if it can figure out how to market the things. Talking to our sister paper Unigram […]
Ing C Olivetti & Co SpA plans to enter the volume workstation business with high-performance machines built around Digital Equipment Corp’s Alpha RISC that will compete with the likes of Sun Microsystems Inc, Hewlett-Packard Co and IBM Corp – if it can figure out how to market the things. Talking to our sister paper Unigram at Olivetti’s week-long promotional fair in Rome yesterday, Lucino Pinto, research and development director, said that the Italian group will sign an agreement with DEC for Alpha, though full details of the deal have not yet been worked out, and no time scales were offered. Pinto confirmed that a prototype Alpha box would be around by the end of the year (CI No 1,877) – other officials said the emergence of shrink-wrapped non-proprietary Unix environments – with the added incentive of Unix System Laboratories Inc’s Destiny and Microsoft Corp NT already scheduled for Alpha (CI No 1,907) – will open up the workstation market sufficiently for it to stake a claim. It sees no problem with adding the Alpha architecture to the MIPS Computer Systems Inc and Intel Corp-based systems it currently offers, a trail that DEC is already blazing in any case, but it has to figure out whether and how it will be able to address the window of opportunity it reckons the industry is now creating with the latest round of hardware and software announcements, and of course, how deep it would have to dig into its back pocket. Olivetti said its use of Alpha would definitely be restricted to the high-end workstations market: it has other designs when it comes to servers, hinting that it may bring out a product in that area based on the technology of Waltham, Massachusetts-based Kendall Square Research Corp. Whatever happens, Olivetti’s commitment to the MIPS-based technology it already employs is not in question. As expected (CI No 1,929), it used the Rome event to steal Pyramid Technology Corp’s thunder and introduce a 24-CPU version of the MIPS R3000-based LSX 6500 transaction processing systems which it rebadges from the Mountain View, California-based company. Previously using a limit of 12 CPUs, Pyramid has now effectively doubled its top-end capability by employing two 37.5MHz R3000A processors on every board. Olivetti said that using 24 CPUs was as high as Pyramid could reasonably go with the R3000. As well as expanding at the top end, Pyramid also looks likely to recast its image as a supplier only of high-end transaction systems. Olivetti unveiled Pyramid-developed boards with from one-to-four MIPS high-end R4000MP CPUs which can plug into its previously announced Advanced Computing Environment LSX 5030 multiprocessor, which currently uses up to four 33MHz Intel 80486 parts. Pyramid originally designed the thing as an eight-processor affair, but scaled back four CPUs, presumably at Olivetti’s request. The R4000 stuff, based on MIPS’ MP multi-processing version of the part, won’t be around until later in the year when volume deliveries of that chip are scheduled to begin. Pyramid, which currently offers 1 MIPS Siemens Nixdorf Informationssysteme AG boxes lower down its line, apparently hasn’t decided whether it will actually offer this R4000 architecture as one of its own products yet. A new LSX 5040 system with up to four 66MHz 80486s is also on offer now, LSX 5000 series customers will in future be able to configure a system of their choice from Unix, OS/2, MS-DOS, Intel and MIPS options. The R4000 architecture is also compatible with Olivetti’s existing M700-10 MIPS R3000-based RISC offering. For fault tolerance, Olivetti has extended its relationship with Stratus Computer Inc to include the company’s two Intel 80860-based systems, to be sold as the LSX 4500 worldwide – with the exception of the UK. Down at the personal computer level, as well as upgrading 25MHz and 33MHz 80486 LSX 5010 and 5025 models to 50MHz and 66MHz respectively it has also followed the current fashion for bottoming out and launched three new entry-level offerings that will gradually replace its existing systems between now and September. The
M200-02 runs a 16MHz 80386SX and come with from 2Mb to 10Mb RAM, 40Mb, 80Mb or 120Mb disk a VGA controller and a half size AT expansion board. The M290-20 is a 16-bit machine using a 16MHz 80286 with from 1Mb to 9Mb RAM, VGA controller, same disk capacity as the 200-02 and up to two AT cards. The M300-02 is based on a 16MHz 80386SX processor with the same options as the 290-02. No prices were given.