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February 12, 1987


By CBR Staff Writer

Apricot Computers Plc yesterday launched its promised 80386-based Personal Computer and file server, claiming 13% better performance than the Compaq Deskpro 386. The Xen-i 386 Personal Computer has 16MHz 80386 running in non-pipelined mode, support for 80387 floating co-processor doing up to 1.5Mflops, up to 8Mb of high-speed 32-bit RAM – addressable through an Expanded Memory Manager using the Virtual 8086 mode of the 80386 – on a new six layer motherboard, and the option of a further 8Mb of 16-bit RAM on an Above Memory shortcard. It comes with either 1.2Mb 5.25 or a 1.44Mb 3.5 floppy, has three internal AT short slots, one of which can be used for CGA or Hercules graphics cards – a ‘Kill ROM’ facility boosts performance of the 8-bit CGA ROM by mapping it into 32-bit RAM; the Hercules adaptor uses a 16-bit interface with 50% interleave to keep up with the processor. Extended MS-DOS 3.2, MS-Windows, MS-Write graphics word processor, MS-Paint, and VP Planner – the spreadsheet from Adam Osborne’s Paperback Software that is currently the subject of a Lotus Development Corp lawsuit – and GW Basic are all bundled. The 30Mb hard disk Xen-i 386, including 1Mb RAM starts at UKP2,999, with the fast-access 45Mb hard disk machine with 2Mb RAM from UKP3,999. Prices exclude monitor and display card but even with those, the 45Mb version compares favourably with the 40Mb Compaq at UKP5,550. The modular VX server/multi-user system unit, like the Xen-i 386, is built around a Basic Input Output System from Phoenix Technologies Ltd, with the same memory configurations as the Personal. Up to four disk subsystems – each with two 70Mb, 157Mb or 268Mb drives – provide up to 1.8Gb of disk storage. Each also has a 125Mb quarter inch tape cartridge and optional 800Mb 5.25 optical write-once drive. Each VX – up to 10 can be networked handles up to 63 users on an Apricot MS-Net/MS-DOS 3.2 network, or 48 users under Xenix 386. IBM’s Token Ring, Ethernet, X25, and 3270 SNA, the last two requiring a dedicated server, are included in the Apricot Network pack which also contains a local net card, file cacheing, and shared access to a central modem. A 2Mb VX70, with 69Mb disk, 125Mb tape drive and a three slot backplane is UKP6,750; the VX150 with with 157Mb disk is UKP7,950, rising to UKP27,000 for 16Mb RAM, 1.8Gb of hard disk, 125Mb tape and 800Mb optical disk. The Xen-i 386 is due April, the VX in May.

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