Having been first into the European market with both a triadic processor and a vector facility, National Semiconductor’s National Advanced Systems yesterday became the first player outside Japan to announce 6Mbyte per second channels. Each AS/XL input-output processor can now handle up to 16 channels at the new transfer rate, and a further 16 at the standard 3Mbyte-per-second rate – but until faster disk drives come along, the higher channel speed is only effectively usage with very expensive semiconductor backing store. The new channels, available immediately as standard on the AS/XL range, can handle a mix of high and low-speed peripherals. The channel launch was accompanied by launch, for delivery this quarter, of a new dyadic model and, for later this year, Enhanced Memory as standard, plus 6Mbps controllers and peripherals. A controller, the 7970-3, which supports both 6Mbps and 3Mbps transfer rates is due for delivery in April. It will enable the 7990-2X semiconductor storage subsystem to transfer data at an aggregate 24Mbps by using four of the new channels, and by August is expected to support 7990-1X and 7990-2X on the same string. NAS claims that the controller will halve the 7900 response time, practically double the transaction rate, and will be completely software-transparent. Cached disk drives to stream at 6Mbps, and 3480-compatible tape drives are in the NAS plan. Expanded Memory is scheduled for delivery in August, and unlike the IBM equivalent, uses the same chip, rather than a slower one, as main store. It is configurable in 64Mb increments and, through paging relief, can provide extra capacity, currently limited to 64Mb, for IBM’s VM/SP with HPO – High Performance Option. The new AS/XL 70, features up to 256Mb of main memory, 512Kb of Dynamic Working Storage, 128Kb cache storage and up to 64 channels. NAS says the machine’s throughput is about 70% of the company’s other dyadic, the AS/XL 80, in the IBM range slotting between the 3090/400 and 200. It comes in above the AS/XL 60 and completes a line of six machines: the uniprocessor AS/XL 50 and 60, the dyadic 70 and 80, the driadic 90 and the quad 100. NAS declined to price the new products, saying that all prices are by negotiation.
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