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  1. Technology
July 20, 1987


By CBR Staff Writer

As well as defending its customer base against the 80386 onslaught (CI No 718) MIPS Computer Systems has answered the workstation/server challenge from Sun Microsystems and Apollo Computer with a 10 MIPS system starting at around $41,000. The Sunnyvale, California-based company says that the RISC-based M/1000 is intended as an applications server for OEM customers building Unix-based systems. MIPS has also announced that it would be selling its RISC microprocessors as components as well as offering them as board-level products, and the new M/1000 will also be sold unbundled. The M/1000 uses MIPS’ new R2800 CPU board which contains a full-custom, 32-bit CMOS microprocessor, the MIPS R2000 CPU. The board has high-speed instruction and data caches, separate buses for input-output and computation, memory interface circuitry and a co-processor interface to its R2010 Floating Point Accelerator. MIPS offers an upgrade for its existing customers which involves a board swap from the R2300 or the R2600 to the new R2800, which costs $11,500. MIPS also announced that Informix Corp, Relational Technology Inc, and Unify Corp will all be doing implementations of their relational database products for its M series. Computer aided design software from Meta-Software will also be available on the M Series. The Meta-Software package is HSpice, derived from the Berkeley Spice program used for modelling integrated circuit designs. An electronic computer-aided design product, the Dracula integrated circuit layout verification suite, is also available. A DECnet-compatible communications package sold by Technology Concepts Inc and called CommUnity is also being implemented for the M Series. In common with Sun Microsystems, MIPS has cut the prices of its existing machines by about 40%. The bottom-of-the-range M/500 boasting 5 MIPS performance now costs $24,000 for an entry-level system in single OEM quantities and a typical configuration is priced at $43,900.

No-one will be faster faster

The 8 MIPS M/800 has an entry-level price of $29,785 and with the R2010 floating point accelerator, Ethernet interface, disk and tape drives, the Umips implementation of Unix, Fortran and Sun’s Network File System, the cost is $68,000. As well as the price cuts, another similarity to the Sun strategy is MIPS’ commitment to doubling the performance of its machines every year, and MIPS adds that because it was the first company to implement a reduced instruction set processor in VLSI, no-one will be faster faster. MIPS is currently delivering in two micron CMOS, and says that by going to one micron design rules, performance would be improved substantially, while even the current implementation could be tweaked by circuit designers to get improved performance. MIPS, with 135 staff, now claims 60 customers worldwide, one of which is working on a secure implementation of Unix for the MIPS CPU, for introduction this autumn. Over the next three months MIPS will be setting up offices and signing distributors in both France and West Germany.

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