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DEC is revealing details of a PDP-11 co-processor for VAXes and a fault-tolerant PDP-11 system during a two-week European promotional tour for the PDP-11, which kicks off today in the UK. The co-processor, which so far is announced only as a programme without delivery dates or pricing, will come in two forms. Phase I, for RSX or RT-11 operating systems, features a processor card that plugs in to the Q-bus of a MicroVAX and shares the MicroVAX memory and disk; several of these could be used as front-end processors running real-time applications under the supervision of VMS, DEC suggested. There will also be layered VMS software to support the co-processor. Phase II, which so far only covers the RSX operating system, is an extension of the idea to enable installed PDP-11s connected to any VAX via Ethernet to act as co processors. The new fault-tolerant PDP-11, built round dual PDP 11/83 processors, is similar in concept and approach to the Microcomputer Implementation of Resilient Architecture – MIRA fault-tolerant MicroVAX II developed by DEC’s European Centre for Special Systems at Annecy in France (CI No 711), and it shares the same name and origins. DEC is also presenting details of compatibility guides outlining the differences between PDP-11 and VAX languages, and new PDP-11 configurations using the MicroVAX 3000 cabinet. It has brought over the US managers of marketing, software and hardware development for the PDP-11 family for the tour, – aimed at telling the faithful and new prospects in niche markets – the current extent and future prospects for the 16-bit line that stubbornly refuses to die. Indeed, DEC said that the PDP-11 line still generates some $1,000m in annual revenues – there are some 500,000 units installed worldwide – and notes that the PDP-11 business on its own would make a Fortune 200 company. DEC refuses to say whether the current J-11 chip set is the last implementation of the PDP 11 architecture or whether there is still another PDP-11 chip to come.

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