Having established itself as a safe and viable alternate supplier to IBM – one of the quotes of 1986 was it is irresponsible to ignore the Digital alternative (CI No 534) – DEC faces 1987 with the pressing requirement to maintain and extend the lead its product line has won over IBM, and observers are looking for the company to add products right through its line to answer the superficial threat of the IBM 9370s. In the MicroVAX world, the company is expected to come out shortly with a bottom end answer to the Personal Computer in applications like factory automation. Coming in below the MicroVAX II, the new machine is expected to run the VAXeln real-time operating system for factory and laboratory data acquisition applications (incidentally adding one more applications area where the PDP-11 is rendered redundant). The DEC answer to the IBM 9370s is expected to be a line of MicroVAXes offering two to four times the performance of the II, to outperform the 9377 at the top end and rub in the message that the IBM machines are nothing more than very old architecture in snazzy new clothing. These machines are expected out by mid-year. And by the end of the year, the VAX 8000 line is expected to start trampling around the foothills of the Sierras with a four-processor machine that is expected to deliver 30 MIPS. The key to this machine will be a true multiprocessor implementation of VMS rather than the present master-slave attached processor version.
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