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July 13, 1993

INTERGRAPH PROMISES TWO MORE CLIPPER INTERATIONS AS SUN PACT STARTS THE NT-ON-SPARC TRAIN ROLLING

By CBR Staff Writer

Intergraph Corp, the Huntsville, Alabama-based engineering Unix workstation company that does everything from beating its own tin, designing its own RISC microprocessor to printing its own brochures, is effectively throwing in its lot with Sun Microsystems Inc in a move that will see it put Microsoft Corp Windows NT up on the Sparc (CI No 2,206). Intergraph plans to implement NT on new high-end Sparc-based systems that it will deliver in 1995. The company has already shown NT running on its existing Clipper RISC-based systems and on a line of recently announced Intel Corp Pentium boxes that will make up the mid and low ends of its re-vamped product range respectively. Consequently, Intergraph’s technical applications will be able to run on most NT machines whether they are made by Intergraph or not. Intergraph’s long-term future as a Unix company is now in some doubt, as its Advanced Processor Division will help develop next-generation, high-end 64-bit Sparc microprocessors with Sun’s Sparc Technology Business. There will, however, be a further two iterations of Clipper, the company promises. Its Unix implementation, however, won’t go much further. Although originally a paid-up member of the Open Software Foundation, it was quite obvious some time ago that Intergraph had no intention of fulfilling its plan to move to OSF/1. Similarly, it says the BSD Unix System V.3.1-derived operating system it currently offers has now been enhanced with the necessary Unix System V.4 features that mean it doesn’t see the need to move to offer a full imp-lementation. Intergraph must retain its current Unix products for the forseeable future, simply because of the amount of kit it is contracted to provide to the US De-partment of Defense. Intergraph’s NT-on-Sparc implementation will support the little-endian byte ordering to be included in future Sparc implementations; each will have the right to use the resulting processors in their system-level products, and Sun will offer them on the open market.

Get on that train

In the words of its president and founder Jim Meadlock, we decided where the world is going and we better get on that train. Ever since its acquisition and turnaround of Dazix – the former Daisy Systems/Cadnetix CAD/CAM software combine now folded back into the company – Intergraph has had to support the Sparc RISC on the Sun machines for which Dazix developed, and which Intergraph consequently acquired on an OEM basis. This latest news is a radical departure for the $1,000m-a-year company that was focused so exclusively on vertical markets that it has had no recent presence at any mainstream Unix exhibitions. Recently, however, the compnay has suffered from weak earnings and a tumbling share price, and analysts don’t expect to see any real improvements as a result of this announcement until 1994.

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