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  1. Technology
July 17, 1991


By CBR Staff Writer

Motorola leads the way as it lays plans for a design centre for single chip RIOS…

Some small insight into the IBM-Apple Computer Inc negotiations came our way last week from Motorola Inc, one of the participants. It seems the boys aren’t waiting for the lawyers to hammer out the definitive contracts – they’re already busy defining the Rios single chip implementation and how it is to be jointly developed by IBM and Motorola. Motorola says it will be setting up a joint design centre equally managed, staffed and funded by itself and IBM. Motorola figures that Apple and IBM are showing the same haste on their side, laying the foundation for their joint venture. After taking off Friday July 5, the negotiators were meeting again last week. What they’re trying to nail down is purportedly complex and when the legal people get ahold of it it just makes it worse – lengthening the process and making it almost unrecognisable. So all they’re willing to say is that they hope to have a definitive agreement by the end of the year. The major pieces of the pact have been isolated and have little dates alongside them but what goes in between is apparently still not watertight. The burden of the IBM-Apple understanding was worked out in the last four weeks, a period one participant called intense. Apparently there was some rough going and endless debate – so much so that they reportedly managed to alienate the staff of the Fairmont Hotel in Californiaby repeatedly checking out in the mornings and then checking back in again in the afternoon because they were still working. They also gave the airlines considerable cause to rejoice. The reasons the announcement of the pact – originally scheduled for Thursday June 27 was pulled – are still vague, attributed to too many unresolved issues. However, an observer claims there was an amazing public relations machine in place and that in fact it was Apple driving to get the word out – a far cry from stories about Apple getting last-minute jitters. As it was, the decision to abort the announcement was made at five o’clock on Tuesday June 25 and although some of the negotiators started to disperse on Thursday they were called back almost immediately and things started up again. People gossiping in the hallways of the Fairmont got the impression that Apple’s senior managers John Sculley and Mike Spindler were the actual instigators ofthe whole affair – but then again they hate to say that’s true, what with everyone staking some sort of claim to authorship. IBM’s James Cannavino is seen from the inside as a very key player and all of Motorola’s managers, including chairman George Fisher, were somehow involved. Motorola, with Apple acting as Godfather, of course had no choice but to go along with the deal. Now it has to peddle it. It has already gotten inquiries; so has IBM. Motorola has set up a number you can call to get a line on what’s going on. It’s (512) 891-3614 in Austin, Texas. Don’t expect too much to begin with but they will take your number and get back to you. – Maureen O’Gara

…as Sparc, MIPS chip-builders talk their book, predict decline of 88000…

Sparc licensee Cypress Semiconductor Corp’s president T J Rodgers reckons that the IBM-Apple alliance means that the RS/6000 will become a major force in the RISC market. There will be three pieces in the RISC pie – Sparc, MIPS and RS/6000. The other entries are now defunct. In US press reports he speculated that Motorola will almost certainly withdraw its 88000 RISC part as a CPU. Certainly Motorola can’t pretend to support three different systems. The failure of the 88000 up until now came about because they couldn’t support two systems, so they sure as hell can’t support three. Tom Longo, president of MIPS licensee Performance Semiconductor Corp, said I think this is a death blow for the 88000. I can’t believe once they’ve got this chip-set (the RS/6000), they’ll not encourage customers to use that instead of the 88000. Meanwhile Philips Information Systems, which re-badges Motorola’s 88000-based boxes as its own, says, of t

he future of the 88000, there has not been a problem yet, but undoubtedly questions will be asked. …but development of Apple’s A/UX is to be continued

Despite the fog that surrounds its alliance with IBM, it is likely that in the future we shall see AIX running on an Apple Computer Inc RISC machine based upon a cut-down version of the RS/6000 chip set. So where does this leave Apple’s own, not very popular implementation of Unix – A/UX – introduced with much fanfare back in February 1988? Naturally enough, development of A/UX has always lagged behind the rest of Apple’s core technology, but recently there have been questions raised about the future of Apple’s Unix. A/UX running under the latest release of the MacOS was expected at the launch of the long-overdue System 7 earlier this year. However, the availability of A/UX with System 7 functionality has been pushed back to the middle of next year. The A/UX team at Apple has also been taking hits, with Ron Lang, A/UX product marketing manager, leaving the team to join an object-oriented system division within the firm. Richard Finlayson, former A/UX product manager is on assignment at Apple Japan, while Mike Channon, former A/UX marketing manager, has been laid off. Apple is currently searching for an A/UX product marketing manager. This year Apple has fired on all guns, first get the three new Macintosh models out of the door, then System 7. A/UX it seems, got leap-frogged in both instances. Apple admits that the lack of development on A/UX has been a direct consequence of these other projects. But at the end of the day Apple needs a Unix system to be able to bid on the increasing number of federal government and defence contracts that specify open systems adherence, if not Unix per se. Reports predicting the demise of A/UX look premature at this time. According to an Apple insider, the likelihood is that it will continue with A/UX on its Motorola 68000-based systems, while a Macced version of AIX is developed for IBM and the Apple RISC machines that will be built around the IBM-Motorola-developed single-chip Rios implementation. To that end Apple is already working on a new version of A/UX – 3.0: it’s planned to come out at the start of next year.

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