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October 19, 1995


By CBR Staff Writer

To fulfill its destiny, make full use of its research and development resources, and create a 64-bit Unix that will keep its HP-UX ahead of Windows NT, Hewlett-Packard Co needs the support of a mature, well-developed and innovative Unix industry, argues Pyramid Technology Corp. Hewlett-Packard might now have control of a large piece of Unix’s 64-bit destiny, but its long-term strategy simply won’t work without some kind of Unix coalescence, Pyramid believes. To achieve what has so far proved unattainable, Hewlett-Packard must create a level playing field that will enable 64-bit Unix technologies to be deployed right across the industry Pyramid said. That’s why, in its mind, Hewlett-Packard initiated the 64-bit Unix application programming interface specification effort and why it is now in discussion with Pyramid and other vendors to create business relationships – not consortia – from which additional Unix technology development agreements will spring. Tailoring the 64-bit work for chip architectures other than Precision Architecture/iAPX-86, is not a problem: much of the processor-specific work likely to be required is already well understood and compartmentalised, Pyramid said. The first issue is to complete and implement the 64-bit specification work on wh ich 50-odd Unix vendors are now working. Establishing a common programming model is critical. The delivery timetable is too aggressive, Pyramid said, but the point is to unite and agree upon a common set of application programming interfaces, largely before they have been created or implemented in products. The way it sees it, Common Open Software Envrionment, Advanced Computing Environment, Spec 1170 and other ‘Unixification’ efforts have either floundered or failed because they tried to unite application programming interfaces after they had been established and implemented in products. The challenge is to ensure 64-bit Unix work where it already exists – at Digital Equipment Corp and Silicon Graphics Inc for example – can be accommodated. If the industry can agree and adopt some set of base 64-bit Unix functions then those resources that would otherwise have gone into duplicated development efforts can be carried forward into the value-added technologies required to keep ahead of Windows NT, Pyramid said. Specifically Hewlett-Packard is already talking with Pyramid and other commercial Unix vendors about development requirements at the high end of the market. Pyramid expects a bunch of agreements with substantive goals to be in place by the middle of next y ear that will finally address issues still unresolved after years of discussion and consorting. The 64-bit specification work, along with Santa Cruz Operation Inc’s effort to clear up outstanding 32-bit Unix work in a single integrated low-end operating system will help Pyramid towards the goal of merging its own and its Siemens Nixdorf Informationssysteme AG parent’s Unixes into a single offering by mid-1996. Pyramid did not pick up a single code drop from Novell Inc during its Unix tenure. It took source from AT&T Corp’s Unix System Laboratories and added its own symmetric multiprocessing, high-availability, clustering and large file system technologies. Novell’s inability to resolve its NetWare-Unix positioning meant the industry effectively stood still for a couple of years, it growled.

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