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June 22, 1987

DANA TO USE MIPS RISCs IN $80,000 PERSONAL SUPERCOMPUTER

By CBR Staff Writer

The first generation networked workstations from Convergent Technologies represented a very original concept when they were introduced, and Allen Michels is determined that the first product, the Titan personal supercomputer, from his new company, Dana Computer Inc, will be equally original. The aim is to take existing technology – as with the Convergent AWS and IWS – and surround it with original features to create something that is both unique and affordable. Dana has been lifting the veil on its plans to Computer Systems News, which reports that the existing technology will include multiple Unix RISC boards from MIPS Computer – likely the new 16MHz implementation rated at 10 MIPS, and standard gate arrays. The key original feature will be multiple 64-bit vector processors built out those gate arrays that will serve as computer engines with the colour graphics integrated rather than handled by a dedicated graphics processor. The MIPS processors will handle input-output, and all the elements will be tied together by a bus capable of handling hundreds of megabytes per second. The company has chosen to integrate graphics tightly into the system because it believes that it is the cheapest and most efficient solution – and as a result expects to deliver the single-user Titan machine at about $80,000 when it introduces it in the first quarter of next year (as reported, the company is about nine months behind its original schedule for introduction). Buying as much as possible off the shelf means that Dana has more cash resources to devote to the crucial software, and much of the effort is going into development of proprietary multi-processor vectorising C and Fortran compilers. The company has also persuaded a string of third parties with structural analysis, fluidics and modelling applications to adapt them to the Titan so that it can be launched with substantial software support. The machine is expected to deliver between 20 and 30 times the performance of the VAX-11/780 and about 6Mflops on the double-precision 64-bit Linpack benchmark. Although Dana has one major OEM customer lined up for the Titan, it expects to have to sell mainly in ones and twos direct to end-users. It has raised about $31m in venture capital, $20m of it from Kubota Ltd of Tokyo, which will do a large part of its manufacturing and has exclusive Far East marketing rights to Titan.

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