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February 25, 1987


By CBR Staff Writer

Bull SA has announced a new range of X/Open conformant 32-bit minis and supermicros that it hopes will improve its market share of Unix systems outside France. Five new models have been introduced; one is a stand-alone system and the other four based on Bull’s own proprietary architecture. The models include the SPS 7/300, 9/400, 9/600, 9/800, and 9/830. The SPS 7/300 is the entry-level multi-68000-family model, initially launched in November 1986 but now enhanced with 5.25 Winchester and a formatted storage capacity of 150Mb. The X/Open member claims that the SPS 9/400 and 9/800 models, based on Ridge Computers’ RISC processor, provide the power for applications needing high processing power, such as three-dimensional volumetric or artificial intelligence computer-aided design; in a single or dual workstation configuration for the Model 400 and up to four workstations for the Model 800. Bull, based in Paris, France, says that the top-end Model 830 can support up to 32 concurrent, interactive users. The systems are intended for the scientific, CAD/CAM, artificial intelligence and relational database processing markets. All the machines use the SPIX operating system, Bull’s implementation of Unix System V.2 with BSD 4.2 enhancements. Software available for the machines include Fortran, C, Pascal RISC compilers and Le-Lisp, SP-Prolog, and Kool artificial intelligence tools. The machines support Ethernet, TCP/IP, ISO/DSA, X25 and SNA communications protocols. Sun Microsystems’ Network File System is also available to provide transparent access to resources on Ethernet. The basic configuration of the SPS 7/300 comes with 4Mb memory, 58Mb disk, 6 ports and tape streamer and costs $27,000. The standard configuration for the 9/400 includes 4Mb memory, 300Mb disk, eight ports, streamer and Ethernet, and costs about $60,000. The top-of-the-range 9/830 costs $143,000 and comes as standard with 16Mb memory, 600Mb disk, 16 ports, tape streamer and Ethernet. The products are available now in each of the countries that Bull has a base – Europe and Africa apart from the UK and Italy, where Honeywell Information Systems sells the Honeywell and selected Bull machines. Honeywell has not yet taken up its option to market the Ridge and Bull Unix products. Bull hopes that the new line will increase its revenues outside France because of the their price/performance ratio. Currently revenues outside France account for 36% of Bull’s total business.

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