By all accounts, including those of its partners, Hewlett-Packard Co originally planned to create a little-endian version of HP-UX to run on little-endian Merced systems (CI No 3,135) but decided that to maintain greater compatibility with its installed base of big-endian HP-UX/PA-RISC users it would maintain HP-UX on big- endian Merced systems. That’s put a stop to any chance of creating a single Unix binary as part of its operating system deal with the Santa Cruz Operation Inc. The two had originally planned to deliver a Next Generation Unix to the industry as a single high-volume/low-royalty operating system spanning the desktop to the data center (CI No 3,104). Although Santa Cruz’ Gemini Unix and HP-UX will share many application programming interfaces, tools and libraries, independent software vendors will have to compile different versions of an application to support each operating system. A version of HP-UX optimized for big-endian Merced systems will be introduced in 1999. Hewlett- Packard says it’s investigating additional Unix operating system functionality that will enable users to extract data stored in either big- or little-endian formats, but it wouldn’t be any more specific. Hewlett-Packard is also working with Microsoft Corp on a C, C++ and Java development environment, code-named Visual Plus, that will run on NT but enable programmers to write applications that can be deployed on NT or Unix. It’s expected to be announced this summer under another name.
Range of operating system support
HP says its little-endian Merced systems will support a range of operating systems including SCO Gemini and NetWare. While Hewlett-Packard will introduce Merced workstations and servers side by side – its server and workstation divisions currently take turns to productise new microprocessors – Intel Corp is working hard to make sure that no-one knows quite when that will be. Intel is being as secretive as possible to ensure no details are divulged to iAPX-86 cloners such as Advanced Micro Devices Inc. It is a situation Hewlett-Packard is not best pleased with. Its own people are increasingly frustrated by not being able to pass on information, especially to commercial and enterprise customers who must plan information technology requirements three years out or more. Hewlett-Packard says these customers need information between 18 months and two years ahead of product introduction but it maintains they don’t need to know this year – which puts system deliveries right at the end of Hewlett- Packard’s curve. The company says it has been badgering Intel to provide more information about Merced on a need-to-know basis – with apparently little success.