This time of year in Japan brings the first clear skies of winter and a series of Unix events, based around the Unix Fair 90, sponsored by the Japan Unix User Society. This year both the Open Software Foundation and Unix International sponsored events with visiting speakers giving updates on respective technologies. Foundation highlights its […]
This time of year in Japan brings the first clear skies of winter and a series of Unix events, based around the Unix Fair 90, sponsored by the Japan Unix User Society. This year both the Open Software Foundation and Unix International sponsored events with visiting speakers giving updates on respective technologies.
Foundation highlights its microkernel
The Open Software Foundation led off the events with its Grand Pacific Symposium on December 3, followed the next day by a series of more detailed seminars on the technology. Entitled the Dawn of a New Computing Era, the symposium attracted more than 200 to hear the latest about the Foundation’s research directions in the three areas of the OSF/1 microkernel architecture, Distributed Computing Environment and Transarc Corp’s AFS distributed file system. Dr Rob Morel, managing director of the Software Foundation in Japan, claimed that OSF has changed the way the industry does business since its start in 1988; the Foundation has 37 members in the Pacific region and 21 member organisations in Japan – the demo room next door had companies such as Hitachi, IBM Japan, software houses CSK and ASCII, Omron, Sumitomo and Nippon DEC demonstrating Foundation technology. Dr Ira Goldstein, Foundation vice-president of research and advanced development, speaking about OSF/1 as an operating system for the 1990s, stressed the benefits of the OSF/1 microkernel architecture – fully symmetric and fine-grained, as well as compatible with XPG-3, Posix, Berkeley and System V.3.2; and its evolution into a trusted real-time microkernel. In terms of security functions, B1 security is currently being developed and the microkernel will be the base of further B3 development in a programme funded by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and Trusted Information Systems. In terms of dates, 1991 will see the development in these two areas of real-time and trusted functionality, with shipping of OSF/1.1 Enhanced Multiprocessor Product, and the advanced research being completed by the end of 1991 and implemented in prototypes of real-time and trusted OSF/1, along with a prototype of DCE/Distributed File System on the microkernel. This is to lead in 1992 to release of OSF/1.2 single server with real-time functions, and a OSF/1.2 trusted multi-server. Doug Hartman, director of requests for technology and validation engineering, reviewed the Distributed Computing Environment, stressing availability of Snapshot 2, and mid-January release of the developer’s kit. Transarc president Dr Alfred Spector highlighted claimed benefits of AFS 3.0 over Network File System V.2 in terms of performance on a Sun 4 with Sparcstation clients, gains to be even more emphatic in AFS 4.0.
Record attendance at the Unix Fair 90 gets its first glimpse of RISC Unix lap-tops
December 4 and 5 saw the Unix Fair 90, with a record attendance of around 25,000 people and 63 companies (including the Japanese edition of our sister paper Unigram-X) exhibiting. Sun Microsystems had the recently released 2GS/2GX on display, while Tandem was attracting crowds with very visible demonstrations of the fault-tolerant capabilities of its Unix-based Integrity S2 system. Toshiba was displaying its new 32-bit Sparc LT laptop computer, announced last week, which has a performance rating of 13.2 MIPS, 180Mb disk, 8Mb memory expandable to 40Mb and options of either liquid-crystal or electro-luminescent display – price is some $15,000). Sony also showed its R3000 RISC-based laptop, the RISC NWS-3260, featuringboth in-built speaker and an audio interface, as well as Ethernet, SCSI RS-232 and Centronics interfaces, 64Mb of cache and 16Mb main memory, plus a 406Mb hard disk. This machine, and the NWS-3870 and 3860 desktop models, will be shipping from January running Sony’s 4.0 OS which incorporates System V.4 commands on the Berkeley base, and Sony widgets which will be developed towards OSF/1. Matsushita Computer Systems was displaying the products of its tie-up with Solbourne – the S4000 64-bit Sparc workstations, and also a space-saving m
odel S3000 measuring 17.7 wide by 7 deep by 15.8 high and a thin plasma display screen developed jointly between the US and Japan but currently only for sale in Japan. Matsushita is targeting universities with models are priced between $15,000 and $17,400. Nissho Electronics, subsidiary of the Nissho Iwai trading company recently became the Japanese distributor for Auspex Systems Inc’s NS5000 Network File Server machine, designed to optimise performance of networks based on the Sun standard, although John Dunham, product manager for Auspex in Santa Clara said that the system could work equally well using the Software Foundation’s proposed AFS. In Japan, Nissho is targeting electronic CAD, software development and financial trading system users, and has sold two systems despite the price of almost $140,000 since the agreement with Auspex this summer. The NS5000 and NS3000 machines were also chosen by the Unix Society as the basis of its Show-wide network. Another organisation with a network was Unix International, demonstrating the connectability of its members’ workstations – including machines from Oki, Sharp, Toshiba, NEC, Nippon Sun, Sony, MIPS, PFU and Fujitsu – at the Unix International booth. The new Unify Japan was demonstrating its Image-mate binary data and image retrieval linked to Unify and previewed its adoption of Motif and a new graphical designer tool for forms-building in Unify. John Mashey, MIPS Computer vice-president of research and development, was seen checking out the state of alignments in the Sparc versus MIPS RISC Wars in the Japanese market, and indicated that MIPS was starting to be more open about the R4000 chip – R4000 being seen as useful for three to four different configurations, from simple uniprocessor through embedded control applications to high-end uniprocessor and multiprocessor servers. – Anita Byrnes
Unix International fights back, dismisses Mach as 10-year-old technology
Unix International concluded three days of events with the latest in its series of System V.4 Technology Seminars. Peter Cunningham reiterated the commercial success of System V.4, catalysing the Unix market in general, which has grown at 26% over the last year to 2.5m Unix licensees and estimated 16m Unix users; 323 companies are already shipping System V.4 products, including 22 in the Asia/Pacific region. Dr William Cox, technical staff at Unix Systems Engineering spoke about multiprocessing technology as viewed by Bell Laboratories. System V.4 Extended/Multiprocessing (ES/MP) will be available in early access in 1991 and a product including System V.4 enhanced security (B2, B3) shipped in 1992. He was at pains to point out that multiprocessing is not a new concept, with the AT&T 3B2 being the first true Unix multiprocessor. He provided a Buyer’s Guide to blast away some of the other myths about multiprocessing – the myth of low weight equalling high performance – he cited a firm that ran Mach 2.5 on a 80386 machine and compared it with System V.3.2, which was considerably faster; the myth of the microkernel – the System V.4 core kernel being only 50,000 lines in length; and the myth of multithreading – data sharing being more fundamental than threads, and contended that Mach is really 10-year old Berkeley 4.3 kernel with communications added and virtual memory system replaced, providing minor performance increase; in short the promises for the microkernel do not always stand up. He also emphasised working with partners – the Unix International Multiprocessing Working Group includes three or four people from Fujitsu and one from Pyramid, who spend time in Bell Labs to provide feedback and technical input. Valerie Miller, of the Network Architecture and Systems Engineering Division of Unix Labs described the open nature of System V.4 – including interoperability service, file services, remote execution, directory and Tuxedo distributed transaction processing, and emphasised that users say that above all they want compatibility and maintainability. She looked forward to peer-to-peer processing in whic
h clients and servers could dynamically swap roles via a conversation manager.