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  1. Technology
February 24, 1993


By CBR Staff Writer

Spea Software AG has launched a new range of add-in Windows accelerator boards, which, it claims, makes it the only video graphics co-processor developer that can satisfy all markets from personal computer users to professional designers. Although the products are manufactured by Intel Corp at its factory in Ireland so that Spea could convince customers how easy it would be to get upgrades, they will be sold under the Video Seven name. Spea acquired the assets of the former LSI Logic Corp subsidiary in August 1992 (CI No 1,989), and according to European marketing manager Omid Rahmat has, as a result, become the largest video graphics company in the world with a total turnover of about $77m. Video Seven built low-end add-in graphics boards for standard applications, and the Windows boards are the first products the group has released since merger. Although Spea designed and developed them itself, it is using the Video Seven brand-name, Rahmat claims, because it is the best-known in the low-end business. He added that as Spea was a ‘little late’ in entering this market, it wanted to be sure it got it right. Rahmat also said that the group is keen to exploit Video Seven’s extensive knowledge of the retail market. While in the past Spea sold its products via value-added resellers, OEM and through dealers, it will sell the new kit through distributors, and offer local support in Germany, the UK, France and Switzerland. Spea is pitching to the Windows market because it believes it is the fastest growing one for graphics accelerators with an estimated value of $450m worldwide for 1993. Also, Rahmat said, analysts expect approximately 1.2m 80486-based computers to be sold in the UK this year, but forecast that only 13% will have video graphics accelerators on their boards. Some 60% will be Windows-based, 10% will be used in computer-aided design and 30% will run under Unix or OS/2.

Three tiers of Windows applications

Spea’s goal for this year is to capture 5% of the available UK Windows market by aggressive sales and marketing. In the past, the company focussed solely on high-end products, and claims to have about 30% of the UK market, even though it only set up shop here in 1991. But, Rahmat said, while the cost of co-processor boards has gone down, the prices of video graphics accelerators have gone up. This has resulted in a blurring of markets as the features normally associated with high-end kit are incorporated into cheaper products. To address this, Spea has launched three new products, aimed at what it describes as the three different tiers of Windows applications. Each uses the company’s proprietary BigWin software drivers for Windows applications, which Spea claims enhances hardware performance by up to 50%. There are also drivers for OS/2, Unix, Windows NT, and all major graphics, computer-aided design and desk top publishing applications. The products are VGA and VESA-compatible, and come with both AT and VESA local bus options, which means that graphics throughput can run at the same speed as the personal computer’s local bus. Spea reckons that the local bus models will be the biggest sellers. The first offering, the V7-Vega is targeted at entry level or casual customers, such as home users, or those in small business and education. It is intended simply to enhance the manipulation and speed of personal computer graphics and costs UKP125. Based on the Cirrus Logic GD5426 graphics processor, it has 1Mb of display memory, provides non-interlaced refresh rates of up to 72Hz, and resolutions of up to 1,024 by 768 if 256 colours are interlaced or 1,280 by 1,024 with 16 colours. The V7-Mirage is a mid-range board for business users running multiple applications such as desk top publishing, word processing, graphical databases, and basic computer-aided design applications. It costs UKP165. The AT version uses the S3 86C801 processor; the VL version on the S3 86C805 chip. They cost UKP185. All are upgradable, with 1Mb of display memory, non-interlaced refresh rates of up to 90Hz, resolutions of up to 1,280 by 1,024 for

16 non-interlaced colours. And the V7-Mercury is targeted at business and professional users, requiring powerful graphics processing and resolutions for both two and three dimensional and graphics applications. According to Spea, Mercury bridges the gap between accelerators and co-processor boards and costs UKP545. Both VL and AT versions are based on the S3 86C928 graphics processor, have 2Mb of VRAM or video memory and cost UKP565. Resolution goes to 1,280 by 1,024 for 256 non-interlaced colours, and non-interlaced refresh rates go up to 100Hz. All are available at the end of the month.

Fujitsu’s mainframe Manasus 2 management support system comes down to Unix

Fujitsu Ltd has released an open systems version of its Manasus 2 strategic management support system, which was jointly developed with the company’s Fujitsu Systems Engineering affiliate. The new version runs under Unix on the DS/90 series or the Fujitsu S family and is said to differ from decision support systems in that it provides an environment and functionality for many people to make strategic use of information dispersed around the organisation. Fujitsu has to date sold the package on its M series mainframes and K-series office computers, not only in Japan, but also in Australia, South Korea and Singapore, to a total of over 200 customers. In the new Unix version, Manasus supports various database management systems, and can exchange data with IBM Corp hosts as well as M-series, via a link called DB-Express. A three-level client-server mode supports the configuration of a wide range of system configurations according to use. Fujitsu has priced the new version competitively, starting at $3,840 for a single stand-alone client, to $20,000 for a configuration of one server with five clients. Over the next three years, Fujitsu is hoping to sell 1,000 systems.

Fujitsu extends its OEM agreement with Sun to cover the new Sparcclassics, Sparccenter

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Fujitsu has announced the release of three new versions of the S family systems, which it buys OEM from Sun Microsystems Inc. All machines run Solaris 2.1 Japanese version and were made available from January 27. The S-4/CL is the Sparcclassic colour entry model based on the 50MHz microSparc chip, priced at from $5,920, while the S-4/LX is the 26.4 SPECmark Sparcstation LX graphics machine designed for high-speed colour display and priced at $12,700. The SparcCenter 2000 data centre server, Fujitsu’s S-4/200, rated at 2.19 GIPS and 269 MFLOPs with 20 CPUs, and with a maximum data storage capacity of 1Tb is priced in Japan at $163,400. As well as Solaris 2.1J, other Japanese versions such as Open Look Version 3J are incorporated. Fujitsu also began selling a version of Solaris 2.1J for its proprietary series of Japanese-language word processors. Fujitsu says this is a step in the direction of developing a range of software products which work on other vendor’s machines. Oasys/S is the version of Solaris 2.1J for Fujitsu’s best-selling word processor, the Oasys – Office Automation SYStem. Priced from $2,240, the system provides the Oasys with support for EUC Extended Unix Codes, enabling data linkage with Unix applications. Oasys-COM/S is a personal computer communications software package providing network services for interconnection with Sun workstations. In addition, ANSI Fortran 90 and Fortran 77-standard Fortran 90 compilers and libraries are provided, operating under the Solaris operating system. This is priced at $1,760.

New pen-based 80386SX notebook computer includes removable 1.8 hard disk

A new pen computer, the first to support a 1.8 hard disk (removable) has been released by Fujitsu Ltd, complete with a standard optical interface for data transfer. The unit is the size of an A4 pad and weighs 3 lbs, with a maximum five-hour battery life. The removable disk drive is just 0.4 thick and the unit has a Video Graphics Array screen. The notebook unit is based on a 25MHz 80386SX processor and runs the three pen-based operating systems: Microsoft Corp’s Windows for Pen Computing, Go Corp’s PenPoint 2.0J

and Communication Intelligence Corp PenDOS V2.0 and prices start at $2,984 for the PenNote model G5.

Computer-integrated manufacturing suite for DS/90 Sparc family

Fujitsu, together with associates PFU Ltd, Fuji Electric Co and Fuji Facom Controls Ltd, has launched a hardware-software package aimed at the manufacturing field, and called Open CIM. The suite comprises 23 Integrated Industrial Application packages, and they run on a DS/90 7000 series base. The software includes stock location control – IA/RICS-DB, and continuous process control – IA/CPSL, packages. DS/90 hardware has been enhanced with three 19 rack-mounted models, taking the total to 25 models in nine lines. Components for constructing manufacturing systems such as Manufacturing Automation Protocol and CIMpop factory terminals are supported. Fujitsu is also offering services in building computer-integrated manufacturing systems under its Propose service offerings. The IS software packages are priced at from $2,000 through to $16,000. Fujitsu says it is hoping to sell 5,000 units of the DS/90 7000 systems in manufacturing fields over the next three years.

Fujitsu forecasts big things from its foray into flat-panel displays

Very much a latecomer to the business, Fujitsu last month officially announced its decision to enter the liquid crystal diode display market (CI No 2,090), citing as its reason the increasing growth of the market due to demand for small computers and multimedia-related products such as its slow-burning but now growing FM-Towns machine. Yonago Fujitsu has been designated the centre of LCD-related activities. This company was formed in 1991 and a factory was planned to be constructed for manufacture of printed circuit boards, but instead the 200,000 square foot plant will be converted to the mass production of thin-film transistor liquid crystal screens. The new plant is planned to be opened in March 1994, initially with 200 employees, and increasing to 600 workers by 1997. Revenues in 1994 are forecast to come out at $24m, rising to $208m three years after that.

Fujitsu’s US PABX arm adopts Centigram Adaptive Information Processor

Fujitsu Business Communication Systems is teaming up with San Jose, California-based Centigram Communications Corp to develop applications for Centigram’s Adaptive Information Processor and Fujitu’s PABXes. The Adaptive Information Processor offers OneCall access to speech, image, electronic mail and database information from any touch-tonetelephone. Fujitsu Business Communications, a subsidiary of Fujitsu Ltd’s Fujitsu America, will sell the application packages exclusively through its US distribution channels.

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