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March 3, 1994


By CBR Staff Writer

A group of refugees from NeXT Computer Inc, with financial backing from Canon Inc, has formed PowerHouse Systems Inc in Menlo Park, California to design systems around the PowerPC RISC. The first PowerHouse products – that name is not likely to go down too well with Cognos Inc – will be a family of desktop systems priced from $3,000 to $6,000 and offering performance of 80 to 280 SPECmarks, and they are to be ready in early 1995. It also plans multiprocessors, seen as a differentiator on the desktop except that Silicon Graphics Inc has already had the same idea. They are being designed to the PowerPC Reference Platform, which means they should be able to run Microsoft Corp’s Windows NT, IBM Corp’s Workplace OS and AIX, SunSoft Inc’s Solaris and Taligent, once the PowerPC implementations of all those are ready. PowerHouse intends to be a design partner and OEM supplier to for computer vendors; it will leave manufacturing to Canon. Founders include former NeXT hardware chief designer Jon Rubenstein, who had completed design of a PowerPC-based machine at NeXT before NeXT abandoned hardware. Chief executive is Canon director Hideyo Kondo, and the company has tapped Charlie Barbour, former vice-president of engineering at Solbourne Computer Inc as vice-president of software engineering. It has 45 employees and looks to grow to 70 by year-end. The company is currently majority-owned by Canon but expects to raise further venture capital and then do a public offering.

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