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May 21, 1987


By CBR Staff Writer

The problem with share issue registration statements is that they have to disclose everything material about a company’s business, and there are heavy penalties for not telling the truth and telling all. So although Basic Four UK told us briskly that it would never do anything like that when we checked on a suggestion that it planned to add a Sequent Computer machine to its product line, it turns out that the agreement between the two companies is there in black and white in the Sequent prospectus for its initial public offering of shares, so it must be true. The agreement covers a joint development project based on the new Sequent Symmetry 80386-based multiprocessor Unix transaction processing system, and grants MAI Basic Four rights to manufacture the machine if purchas-es from Sequent exceed a pre-set level. The new Symm-etry machine, previewed in CI No 680, replaces the NS32032-based boards in the Balance machines with boards each holding two 16MHz 80386s, each with 80287 maths co-processor and 64Kb cache. Sequent says it picked the 80386 over the new NatSemi 32332 and also the 68020 because it offered better price-performance at the time the decision was made, and also supported the Weitek floating point co-processor and runs MS-DOS. It may still adopt the forthcoming NS32532 in a future machine – its architecture is CPU-independent – and its agreement with Siemens requires it to continue to offer machines based higher members of the NatSemi family if the Mnchener asks for them. The new Symmetry S-series comes in two basic models, S27 with two to 10 processors, rated at 6 to 27 MIPS, and the S81 with two to 30 processors and rated at up to 81 MIPS. The machines are rated at up to four times the performance of the existing Balance machines – renamed the B8 and B21 – and to offer four times the performance and eight times the memory. The S27 starts at $89,000 with 8Mb CPU, 150Mb disk, 16 lines, the Dynix operating system and C; the S81 ranges from $164,000 to $800,000, taking up to 240Mb main memory, 264Mb to 17.2Gb on disk, and 256 lines. Ships start in October and Sequent has orders for 10. Applications from the Balances have to be recompiled, but users can upgrade by swapping processor boards. A new entry-level Balance B8 with two processors, two 2Mb and 150Mb disk, tape and 16 ports costs $49,500.

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