Taking advantage of this week’s Unix Expo in New York, NEC Information Systems Inc is plunging into the Unix business systems market in the US with a major expansion of its Astra line. It launched four 68020-based business systems to follow last year’s introduction of a Unix-based dual 68020 engineering workstation (CI No 564). The new Astra XL line run under NEC’s Astr-IX operating system, an implementation of Unix System V with Berkeley 4.2 extensions, and will support from eight to 32 users. The range consists of the MicroXL, XL/8, XL/16 and XL/32. All four use a 16.7MHz 68020 and include a 68881 floating point co-processor and 68851 memory management unit. 2Mb of memory is standard, expandable to 4Mb on the XL/8 and MicroXL; 8Mb on the XL/16; and 16Mb on the XL/32. The XL/16 and 32 can also have 8Kb and 16Kb cache respectively. Disk capacity ranges from 210Mb on the MicroXL to 2.5Gb on the XL/32 with each also having a 5.25 floppy drive. The XL/8 can be upgraded to an XL/16 through a CPU swap, which in turn can be boosted to an XL/32 in the same way. The MicroXL can be expanded to support 16 users by adding a second cabinet but cannot then be expanded any further. NEC has been giving an XL/32 prototype free to software developers since June 1986 but says the new machines are about 50% more compact with faster CPUs and more memory and disk. NEC expects to have about 25 resellers by year-end to take on the likes of Altos, NCR, AT&T and Convergent. The Boxboro, Massachusetts company claims advantages include upgradability, growing software library; and 10% to 15% keener prices. Prices start at $8,495 for the MicroXL; $11,995 for the XL/8; $16,995 for the XL/16; and $21,995 to $60,000 for the XL/32. Software from Unify, Informix, Data Language and VMark Software is up. US ships in December.
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