Following last week’s confusing turnaround over its OSF/1 for MIPS Computer Systems Inc R-series policy, Digital Equipment Corp organised clarification sessions for journalists in Boston and Palo Alto last week to set the record straight. The sessions largely consisted of assurances from DEC of its continued commitment to the OSF/1 operating system on the MIPS line, in the face of surprisingly strong customer reaction to the news of DEC’s recent pronouncements that it would only offer OSF/1 for Alpha. David Stone, vice-president of software engineering, claimed that customers wanted to keep their options open, either moving to OSF/1 and Alpha in one fell swoop, or doing it piecemeal, changing operating system and chip set one step at a time. Alpha customers are likely to be those wanting high performance workstations for demanding applications such as modelling that need a large address space. Ultrix on R-series customers are those with existing applications that want upgrades to new chips with minimum hassle. OSF/1 on R-series customers are mostly policy-led companies that want the operating system to come from an independent source, although there are reasons for changing, according to Stone, including loadable drivers for accommodating new graphics options and shared libraries that reduce the size of the applications. Stone also said DEC would offer daughter board upgrades for its R3000 customers, and would offer similar upgrades for future MIPS generations, such as the R5000. Using daughter boards, he said, protected user investments in the box and power supplies: it means that DEC has to redesign the ASICs on the motherboard, but leaves plenty of room for additional cache on the back side of the board. Availability dates for OSF/1 on MIPS, he said, had been re-targeted until after the Alpha version, but as the developers version is already shipping, the date change should not impact independent software vendor and customer development schedules too heavily. On support for Unix V.4.2 – Unix System Laboratories Inc Destiny product – Stone said we have no intention of supporting it. He welcomed the endorsement by Unix Labs of the Foundation layered products, said that DEC’s Network Applications Support services would be ready for the system by autumn next year, along with versions for HP-UX and AIX, and said that both Unix Labs and DEC would be prepared to help anybody that felt like putting Destiny on the Alpha chip. Availability of DEC’s Unix system software is – Ultrix R3000 V4.3: summer 1992; Ultrix R4000 V4.3A: spring 1993; OSF/1 Alpha V1.2: winter 1992; OSF/1 R3/4000 V1.2: summer 1993; and OSF/1 Alpha/MIPS V2: Winter 1993.
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