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  1. Technology
October 27, 1991


By CBR Staff Writer

Although Siemens-Nixdorf Informationssysteme AG chose to restrict the announcement of new high-end Unix multiprocessors to a German trade show in Munich on Monday, the firm duly unveiled its Pyramid Technology Corp-sourced boxes in the UK and elsewhere last Tuesday as expected (CI No 1,784). Siemens-Nixdorf’s RM600 is based on the one-to-four processor model in Pyramid’s S series of MIServers launched back in April, running Siemens-Nixdorf’s own Sinix V5.41 implementation of Unix System V.4. The departmental computers, which are built using MIPS computer Systems Inc’s 33MHz R3000A RISC, are rated at 35 MIPS in single-processor configurations, up to 140 MIPS with four CPUs, come with up to 512Mb RAM, 75Gb disk and support up to 400 users. Prices start at UKP100,000 and go to over UKP1m. Siemens says the RM600 will be its strategic relational database machine for 100-plus users, and address the move towards downsizing by offering mainframe performance at a mid-range price. However the firm chose not to – and says it has no immediate plans to – take on the rest of Pyramid’s S series, which, accommodating up to 12 CPUs and going to 300 MIPS, would more realistically compete with its own BS2000 mainframes. Siemens-Nixdorf is also working closely with Pyramid on the development of systems based on the multi-processing version of MIPS’ latest 64-bit RISC part, the R4000, which Siemens-Nixdorf is fabricating in Europe for the Sunnyvale, California-based chip designer. These systems are not expected before 1993. Siemens-Nixdorf also previewed its Sinix Application Programming Interface, API, which will be formally introduced later this month. Sinix API is intended to offer applications portability and unified software development across Siemens-Nixdorf’s entire range of Unix computers. The API embraces Open Systems Interconnection and X/Open standards, along with System V.4 Streams, LAN Manager, systems management, programming languages – C, C++, Cobol, Fortran, Pascal, Ada, Lisp and Prolog OSF/Motif and X Window interfaces, TCP/IP and SNA communications, a data dictionary, applications generators and SQL databases. Although Siemens-Nixdorf says the API is non-partisan and will be extended to include other technologies as they come along, there are already anomalies. Siemens-Nixdorf, a founder member of the Open Software Foundation, is not offering compliance with the Application Environment Specification, which would enable users to implement the OSF/1 operating system on their Siemens-Nixdorf boxes should they so choose – and there are no plans to do so, says Andy Smith, Siemens-Nixdorf’s UK product marketing manager.

Sell-by date

This comes despite the recent thawing of relations between the various hostile Unix camps which, most recently, has lead to agreement on the creation of a set of interfaces that should enable MIPS RISC and Intel Corp system users to run Unix System V.4 and OSF/1 applications side-by-side. On the other hand, in choosing the Motif graphical user interface, and the Open Foundation’s implementaion of remote procedure call technology for its distributed processing strategy – as enshrined in the Foundation’s Distributed Computing Environment – System V.4 supporter Siemens-Nixdorf has spurned the olive branches held out by Unix International Inc and Unix System Laboratories Inc which define technologies that will enable users to develop to Motif, or to Open Look, and to the Foundation procedure call or the more popular Sun Microsystems Inc-derived Remote Procedure Call. Siemens-Nixdorf’s Sinix range goes from Siemens’ WX200 workstation, through the Intel 80486-based MX300 and MX500, (multi-processor), to the Motorola Inc 68040-based Targon/31 and Targon/35 – Pyramid’s older MIServer system based on a proprietary RISC – from the Nixdorf side of the equation, to the new RM600. Siemens-Nixdorf says it will continue with sales of the Targon/35 for now – it has some 1,000 in the field – while there now remians only a residual OEM relationship with Sequent Computer Systems Inc for its machines using Natio

nal Semiconductor Corp’s NS32000, now well past its sell-by date.

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