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July 21, 1987


By CBR Staff Writer

Designers of mathematics and engineering software are impressed by what they’ve heard about the speed, memory, and graphics capabilities of IBM’s 80386-based machine, the PS/2 Model 80 – but they’re not staying up late writing programs for it until they have a new operating system, reports Microbytes Daily. Computer-Aided Design and engineering programs will put the Model 80’s 32-bit capabilities to good use – for these applications, we can never have enough speed, RAM, and hard disk space, says Ken Blakely of MacNeal-Schwendler Corp, Los Angeles, which does CAE software that performs finite-element analysis. Load-testing models for stress and heat transfer often involve tens of thousands of variables; but until Microsoft finishes the OS/2 operating system for IBM, software development is stalled, Blakely says. Depending on the availability of OS/2, Alice Cox of Minuteman Software, Stow, Massachusetts says she expects a high-end product for the 80386 sometime in the first or second quarter of next year. Minuteman makes a memory-intensive simulations package for modelling engineering systems, and the 80386 version will use more RAM and enhanced graphics, Cox says.

Sitting quietly, waiting

Swanson Analysis in Houston, Pennsylvania says it is sitting quietly waiting for an operating system. There’s absolutely nothing we can do at the present time. The obvious alternative is of course to forget about the wait for OS/2 and go for Xenix or something else, and a few companies have decided to sidestep the Microsoft/IBM operating system. For instance, Alligator Technologies, which develops data-acquisition and analysis software in Costa Mesa, California, says it will soon release a program that uses hard-coded memory mapping. According to Robert Galter of Alligator, this technique works outside of PC-DOS and enables the company’s Prime Factor FFT 2-D program to use the full memory capabilities of the new machine. But there’s a catch. To use the hard-coded memory addresses, you need to dedicate the system to Alligator’s program, since the operating system doesn’t know what memory the program has used. But according to Alligator, this limitation is a small price to pay for so much RAM, and most users would run the program on a dedicated system anyway. The program performs Fast Fourier Transform calculations for image processing and for real-time frequency analysis and can run under MS-DOS. Some software houses said that even when OS/2 becomes available, they won’t be developing any packages specifically for IBM’s 80386 machine. STSC Inc in Rockville, Maryland for example, is developing a statistics/graphics program to run on Compaq’s Deskpro 386. Larry Pfortmiller of Foresight Resources, Lawrence, Kansas, which develops the Drafix computer-aided design series, says there’s not a lot of reason to move into another operating environment. We can’t afford to get into an operating system that is an added cost to the end user. Before Foresight develops an 80386 package, it will consider developing its graphics program for Xenix, Pfortmiller says.

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