NCR Corp says the eight-way version of its Worldmark 4300 symmetric multiprocessing system based on its much-delayed Octascale technology (CI No 3,120) will now be generally available in November. The Dayton, Ohio-based firm says the boxes are ready to go, but the company claims it is waiting until its marketing machine has kicked in before it ships product in volume. However, NCR is understood to have already shipped over fifty of the Octascale based systems for evaluation by customers in Europe and the US, although they’re reportedly not yet working at full speed. According to the same source, NCR is talking with Sequent Computer Systems Inc about extending its existing OEM agreement (CI No 3,083) to include the 8-way as well as the 4-way versions of the server, and is also looking to negotiate similar deals with Compagnie des Machines Bull SA and Siemens Nixdorf Informationssysteme AG. NCR says the basic difference between Octascale and broadly similar NUMA non uniform memory architecture technology developed by rivals is the addition of a hardware-based memory manager which sits on the side of the chip. The memory manager means that the operating system code doesn’t need to be re-written to alert it to the presence of NUMA. The company claims that the middle layer of software in NUMA implementations slows the second 4-way cluster down to around 60% to 70% of its potential, whereas Octascale can exploit up to 95% of the available power. NCR says the manager module was the key reason for the delay in shipping Octascale, although it’s all been fine tuning for performance over the past few months. The additional hardware was designed by its engineers and is being built by Intel to be shared with other vendors, but NCR says it expects to be the first to market with each new chip release.
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