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May 18, 1988

GENE AMDAHL BACK WITH PLANS FOR SUPERCOMPACT CMOS “3090”

By CBR Staff Writer

Dr Gene Amdahl has missed the chase and the thrill of doing battle with IBM too much, and he revealed yesterday that he is under way with his third attempt to meet IBM head-to-head with a 370-compatible mainframe, this time through his new vehicle, Andor Systems Inc in Cupertino, California. The aim is to build a machine matching the performance of the 3090-150E with 64Mb and 24 channels – and squeeze the whole thing into a space about 12 by 12 by 17. The supercompact will be built in 100,000 gate CMOS arrays from Motorola Inc. Speaking at the UK Computer Measurement Group Conference in Harrogate yesterday, Dr Amdahl said that the new machine had been developed using new techniques for achieving maximum performance, but declined to go into detail beyond saying that the design work was at the high level language rather than the logic level. He expects to have the machine in beta test within a year, and available within 18 months: the pricing has not yet been fixed, and the company is researching the market before deciding where to pitch it – and radical distribution channels such as dealers may be used because the machine is being designed so as to require minimal support. No manufacturing location has yet been chosen, but the machine is so small and simple that it could be manufactured anywhere. In contrast to Dr Amdahl’s failed Trilogy venture, the new company has so far spent a mere $1m of the $2.25m it raised for development of the system, but has a timetable for developing an ECL processor and parallel processor products, and will be seeking to raise additional money for these. Dr Amdahl was chief designer of the IBM 360 before leaving IBM to found Amdahl Corp. He resigned from Amdahl after he grew frustrated at having had to give effective control of that company to Fujitsu Ltd when he couldn’t raise the cash it needed from US sources, and in 1983 founded Trilo gy Ltd. Trilogy invested well over $100m – but less than it had raised – to design, from waferscale chips up, a machine to compete with the then unnannounced IBM 3090. But the over-ambitious project fell so far behind schedule that there was no hope of bringing the machine to market in time to take an adequate share of the 3090 market, and the effort was killed. Trilogy invest ed the cash it had left in Elxsi Corp, disappearing into it. Dr Amdahl’s Andor has no connection with Andor Systems Ltd, Warrington.

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