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The short-list for the UK Inland Revenue’s COVO project, a tender for 137 networked Unix supermicros back in August, is now understood to be complete – and response to the tender was reportedly very high. There is no word yet on which companies have made it onto the short-list, and there will be particular interest in whether ICL, whose biggest single contract is supply of mainframes to the Rev-enue, makes it onto the list with the Clan. The purpose of COVO is to provide a database control system for the Revenues Valuation Offices, the department which values properties for rating purposes (how the impending change to a Community Charge will affect this remains unclear). The tender specified the Oracle database as a mandatory requirement, running under Unix System V. A spokesman for the Inland Revenue revealed an increasing interest in Unix, particularly in plans for office and distributed systems. We are following closely the initiatives in the X/Open and Posix arena and intend to use the Posix standard when it is totally developed in the future. Until that time we are specifying performance to at least System V Interface Definition version 2. The next phase of the procurement will be the demonstration of short-listed systems, with suppliers to be selected by the end of March. Intergraph Corp was not the only company heaving a sigh of relief after it had secured the future of the Fairchild Clipper by buying the rights from new owners National Semiconductor Corp in September: Opus Systems, Cupertino, claims to be the Clipper’s second largest purchaser, using the complete chip set on its Series 300 5 MIPS Unix co-processor boards, and certainly more marketing effort now appears to be spent on promoting the Clipper products rather than on their lower performance National Semiconductor 32016/32032 based relations, which nevertheless have achieved sales of over 5,000; however, not wishing to put all its eggs in one basket, Opus has announced a new Series 200 Personal Mainframe board using the more powerful National 32332 processor, providing two to three MIPS of computing power and 4Mb to 16Mb of physical memory – both chips are said to be suitable for co-processor applications due to their high level of integration.

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