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April 8, 1997updated 05 Sep 2016 12:16pm


By CBR Staff Writer

Compaq Computer Corp hopes to transform the Web from its current country lane status into something that more closely resembles the information superhighway through technology it calls Compaq Acceleration Server technology, a combination of server, parallel accelerator hardware and compression software it hopes to turn into a product by the summer. The technology, on which Compaq is working with Integrated Computing Engines Inc of Waltham, Massachusetts, is claimed to speed up the loading of Web pages by between two and three times, and can equally be applied to internal intranets as to the internet itself. It requires a hardware accelerator, currently in the form of a standard PCI card with an array of 16 digital signal processors, to be installed on the proxy server for compression. This may be on the internet service provider’s machine or on the company server. At the user client end, a free plug-in is required for decompression. The basis of the technology comes from ICE, which already has a similar product on the market for the Adobe Systems Inc’s Adobe Aftereffects video editing tool. The PCI card, described as having ‘Cray-like’ rendering capabilities, uses the Transputer-like Sharc chips from Analog Devices Inc, which are also used in Sega video games, put together in a Mesh configuration, and capable of 2Gflop performance rates in its 16-chip form. The hardware support is necessary at the server end, as the compression technology apparently carries out a sophisticated analysis of the images to be compressed: decompression requires far less compute power. ICE currently has software for real-time wavelet compression, most suitable for still-image compression, and says it is working on additional libraries for video and 3D compression. ICE will also offer a software developers kit for applications vendors who want to optimize their products for the technology. Compaq, which took a financial stake in ICE last October (CI No 3,024), intends to offer the technology packaged with its Proliant x86/NT server range. It is part of a wider range of initiatives from Compaq aimed primarily at Internet service providers, that also include its recent support for NetCentric Corp’s Metered Services Information Exchange protocol, a development support effort dubbed Rainmaker to encourage software vendors to support Compaq Internet servers, and a set of strategic relationships with the likes of Netscape Communications Corp, Microsoft Corp, Novell Inc and PointCast Inc. Compaq says it is currently the number three supplier of Internet servers, behind Sun Microsystems Inc and Digital Equipment Corp.

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