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November 10, 1993


By CBR Staff Writer

Oracle Corp claims to have licked all the problems associated with delivering video on demand to a large market, and that it has telecommunications partners that will begin selling movies in volume over phone lines as early as the first quarter next year. The system is Oracle Media Server running on an nCube Corp machine – Oracle chief Larry Ellison controls nCube – and according to the Wall Street Journal, the initial machine will be able to serve 66,000 homes; the enhanced version set for 1995 is claimed to be able to handle 750,000 homes. The paper saw a demonstration system at Oracle’s Redwood Shores headquarters, which ties a 16-processor nCube machine with 15 disk drives holding 40 digitised movies and links it to two personal computers. A simple menu enables users to find movies by categories, such as comedy or drama, featured actors or year produced. The heavily-compressed video is claimed to resemble a VHS videotape in quality. Users can start and stop the action and jump ahead, although rewinding has not been perfected. The company claims an 8,292-processor nCube machine that costs $15m to $20m, can send out 22,230 simultaneous streams of video, and the industry works on the assumption that in the busy hour, a third of homes will be on-line, which means it could support 66,000 homes. Each stream currently costs a telephone or cable company about $600, compared with between $1,000 and $5,000 for the systems based on traditional computers from the likes of IBM Corp and Digital Equipment Corp. The next genaration is being designed to handle about 250,000 video streams at $100 to $200 a stream. Oracle Corp says it plans to offer a version of Oracle7 parallel Server under MVS for IBM Corp’s planned parallel mainframes.

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