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December 15, 1987


By CBR Staff Writer

Apricot Computers Plc is taking a leap up market with the signing of a major OEM deal with fault-tolerant multiprocessor Unix systems builder Sequent Computer Systems Inc, Beaverton, Oregon. The five-year strategic partnership will allow Apricot to assemble Sequent’s Intel 80386-based Symmetry multiprocessors at its Glenrothes, Scotland plant and sell the machines into specific UK vertical markets. Apricot group chief executive Roger Foster looks for the Sequent machines to account for around 10% of the company’s business over the first year of the agreement – UKP10m of business is the 1988 target. Three models are covered by the agreement. Apricot is calling the low-end two to six processor model the VX 9300: it comes with 8Mb to 32Mb memory, up to 1Gb of disk storage and is rated at six to 18 MIPS. It supports up to 64 users and starts at UKP40,000; the configuration is exclusive to Apricot and will not be sold by Sequent for at least a year. The VX 9600, supporting up to 96 users, has from two to 10 80386s, and starts at UKP80,000. The VX 9800 uses up to 30 processors and has an entry price of UKP120,000, rising to UKP400,000 fully configured. As DEC’s largest OEM customer in the UK, Apricot says it is no stranger to large systems, and will be selling the VXs exclusively into three key markets: investment management and banking with its Quasar suite of applications; the National Health Service; and local authorities. It chose the Sequent machines because they are based on the 80386 and thus will provide Apricot with a fully binary-compatible range once the merged Unix System V.3/Xenix product becomes available in the middle of next year. MS-DOS, OS/2 and Unix will be integrated via networking, with MS-DOS micros seen as the human interface to OS/2 servers and departmental Unix machines. Sequent’s other major OEM agreement is with Siemens, but that one is for the lower end National Semiconductor NS32032-based Balance range, which Sequent hints will be upgraded with the new, much more powerful NS32532 microprocessor. Siemens has sold over 400 of the machines in Europe. Sequent UK claims 40 sales, with around eight orders for the new Symmetry, which ships this month.

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