Sun Microsystems Inc will try to reverse the prevailing dynamics of the Unix workstation market in January with the introduction of a Sparc RISC workstation at PC prices to take on Windows NT. The box – identified as Darwin by BancAmerica Robertson Stephens – is being manufactured and distributed by Taiwan’s Mitac International Corp under Sun’s $1bn deal with the Taiwanese company earlier year (CI No 3,083). The plan is said to be for Mitac to manufacture 500,000 workstations. Mitac’s already built systems for vendors such as Compaq Computer. The device will be heavily oriented towards Java if Sun’s pre-marketing material is anything to go by. The ‘PC with a Sparc’ system will presumably use the 64-bit UltraSparc i system-on-a-chip Sun said would be delivered by the end of this year. UltraSparc i integrates main memory and system bus interfaces – it retains a slave implementation of Sun’s proprietary UltraSparc Port Architecture bus for graphics but not for memory – and supports lower-cost memory chips. Integrated PCI is designed to support off-the-shelf devices once drivers are written. A 300MHz UltraSparc i has been touted at 10.6 SPECint95 and 14 SPECfp95 performance.
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