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Digital Equipment Corp is likely to end its isolation as one of the few major computer companies not involved in reduced instruction set computing with the launch of a RISC workstation sometime this year, say a growing number of US sources. The new product, tipped to be rated at 8 MIPS and 10 MIPS and available initially in an Ultrix-only version, is expected out by the end of the year, and could be available by the third quarter of the year, say DEC analysts. DEC reportedly has a number of prototype RISC machines, running mostly as workstations, but faces a major re-write of its VMS operating system if it wishes to offer both operating systems and efforts in this direction are unlikely to be ready for an autumn launch. DEC products have recently been under increasing pressure from proponants of RISC technology such as Hewlett-Packard Co, and most recently arch competitor Data General announced plans for a new generation of RISC-based systems using the Motorola 88000 chipset. DEC would not confirm its RISC plans, and president Ken Olsen, quoted in Computer Systems News, played down the significance of the technology by saying it is used by niche market players. It’s not an architecture, it’s just an idea of how you manipulate the instructions, said Olsen. Posix committee chairman Jim Isaak, who also works for DEC, has revealed that Ultrix 2.4 is now out on field tests and will be out in the autumn: it will be both Posix- and X/Open Interface Standard-compatible.

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