Still matching Sun Microsystems Inc pace for pace, Sparc systems builder Solbourne Computer Inc this week weighs in with its answer to the SparcServer 4/90, launching its top-end Series5E/900 multi-processor, built around up to eight 40MHz Sparcs from Cypress Semiconductor. But the Longmont, Colorado outfit – controlled by Matsushita Electric Industrial Co, has also gone one step further and introduced a symmetric multi-processing version of its SunOS-compatible Unix operating system for the new machines. A uniprocessor 5E/900 is rated at 31 MIPS and 4.1 MFLOPS, carries a SPECmark of 19.1 and costs UKP79,000. The dual-processor version comes in at UKP87,000, and rated at 62 MIPS, is claimed to match the SparcServer 4/90 measure for measure. In a top-end, eight-processor configuration, the 5E/900 is claimed to perform at 248 MIPS unofficially reckoned to come in at 120 on SPEC’s multi-processing throughput scale – and costs UKP150,000. Each comes with from 16Mb to 1Gb memory, up to 27Gb disk, an 11-slot Kbus space – Solbourne’s own 64-bit, 128Mb per second data bus seven VME slots, four SCSI ports, two serial ports, Ethernet, SunView, X11, X Window, a C compiler and Solbourne’s own SWM X Window manager. They are out in September. The new symmetric multi-processing operating system – OS/SMP release 4.0D – is binary-compatible with previous versions, as well as with SunOS, and is claimed by the company to boost applications performance by an average of 20% over previous implementations. However, like Sun, Solbourne remains coy about its plans for a Unix System V.4-compatible operating system, and Barrie Murray-Upton, vice-president of European operations says that at best it is a year or two away. He claims a worldwide installed base of some 1,600 Solbourne systems in the 15 months products have been shipping – 130 of which are in Europe. The 5/900 is likely to be the last in the Series 5, they will be followed by the Series 6 next year, again using the CMOS Cypress Sparc, but with a clock rate that will reach towards 100MHz, he said. In the background Solbourne is quietly putting together the final pieces of its plan for entering the low-end, volume workstation business, where it hopes to compete with the likes of Sun, DEC and Hewlett-Packard. As yet unnamed, the workstations will use the 64-bit Sparc being jointly developed with Matsushita – parts will be out before the year end, with systems set for early 1991. Like boards for Solbourne’s existing line, the workstations will be manufactured by Matsushita in Chicago – the plant is currently being fitted out to meet the demands of high-volume production.