The Leatherhead, Surrey half of Vermont Research Inc has recently introduced a new series of DEC SDI plug compatible solid state disk alternatives called the Pennine range. The first product to be launched by Vermont under the slogan DEC can’t be good at everything is the Pennine/Vsdi. The product is intended to extend the life […]
The Leatherhead, Surrey half of Vermont Research Inc has recently introduced a new series of DEC SDI plug compatible solid state disk alternatives called the Pennine range. The first product to be launched by Vermont under the slogan DEC can’t be good at everything is the Pennine/Vsdi. The product is intended to extend the life of the complete range of DEC systems, including the older PDP-11 models. It offers solid state storage from 8Mb to 2Gb, emulating the DEC RA disk product families operating under MSCP and will function on systems with VAXBI, Q-bus and Unibus. The Vsdi will operate with most DEC controllers including KDB50, KDA50, UDA50 and third party equivalents. All well and good but why enter a market in which DEC already has an equivalent offering: the ESE20? According to Vermont, DEC’s solid state memory system is overpriced (costing UKP80,000 for the 120Mb product), has a large footprint (42 cabinet), and doesn’t offer the range of data capacity that Vermont can provide. Vermont’s 19 120Mb Pennine/Vsdi is priced at around UKP45,000, and the company argues that it can afford to undercut DEC because its overheads are lower than those of its larger rival. DEC, on the other hand, suspects that Vermont has been using DEC protocols and, therefore, has a less expensive research and development budget. Vermont is adamant that it has not used any DEC-patented technology. Vermont offers small data capacities based on 8Mb increments, and has a 32Mb product priced at UKP15,000. It argues that such an offering is of use for real-time applications for banking systems and pharmaceutical companies, as well as for exploratory seismic operations. DEC is sceptical that a market exists for such small capacities, and questions the technical feasibility of increasing the input-output rate for comparatively tiny amounts of capacity. DEC did, however, appear to be impressed by Vermont’s 2Gb offering, a large increase in capacity which it cannot, as yet, provide.
Exported to the US
Both companies believe that there is a need for solid state storage to relieve input-output bottlenecks, citing its cost effectiveness from the user’s point of view. The fact that a large hardware manufacturer such as DEC has got into this market when market logic would suggest it would be of greater benefit for it to play on a system’s built-in obsolescence suggests that there is a growing end-user awareness of the benefits of revivifying old systems with solid state secondary storage. Vermont itself is expecting to increase its turnover by around 60% within the first year of launching Pennine/Vsdi. The first unit is due out in the early autumn and will be distributed in the UK by Nottingham-based Axxion using DEC dealers. However, the majority of the units (totally manufactured here in the UK) will be exported to Vermont Research for distribution back home in the US.