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SPECIALIX CHASES SUCCESS WITH I/O CONTROLLER FAMILY AND ACCELERATOR BOARD

Specialix Systems Ltd is seeking to build on the success of its Chase AT8 intelligent controller with the launch of four new input-output controllers and an 80386-accelerator board. In the 15 months since its launch, the AT8, which turns an IBM AT or compatible into a nine user system, has garnered over 2,000 sales and four major OEM deals – with British Olivetti, Apricot Computers Plc, Honeywell Bull in West Germany, and Nokia in Finland. Managing director Les Pilkington believes the new products will establish Specialix as a world brand leader in input-output controllers. The top of the range AT16 offers 16 serial ports and modem control and comes in at UKP1,495. Up to four can be inserted into an 80386-based AT, turning the machine, theoretically at least, into a 64 user system. In practice, according to Specialix’s technical director, John Pettitt, a 20MHz Compaq Computer Corp Deskpro 386/20 will support up to 30 users under Xenix 386 before performance degradation starts. The AT4, which like the similarly 80186-based AT8 and AT16 was designed and developed by Chase Research of Mortlake, Surrey, supports four users and costs UKP695. It will be aimed at systems integrators and value-added resellers requiring high speed serial interfaces and modem control. The 80186 in the AT4 runs at 7.5MHz, against 8MHz in a new, improved AT8, and 16MHz in the AT16. The Chase controllers all support Xenix 286 and 386, Microport Systems Inc and Interactive Systems Corp Unix, Digital Research’s Concurrent DOS, PC-MOS and MS-DOS. The Specialix- designed, Far Eastern-built I/O4 Plus is based on a 4MHz Z80. At UKP495, it is essentially a cheaper version of the AT4. As with the AT4, up to four I/O4 Plus boards can be put into one ATalike. The entry level in the new range is the I/O4, a non-intelligent four port device for XTs and ATs sourced from the Far East. Retains existing chip At UKP249, it is said to be the cheapest of its kind on the market. By contrast, the accelerator board, the 386 C-PAC, is aimed at power users at the top of the market, or at those corporates seeking to move XT and AT users to Microsoft’s OS/2 operating system when it appears next year. Unlike other attempts such as the Intel Inboard 386 at harnessing 80386 power on 80286 and 8086-based machines, the 386 C-PAC does not require the removal of the existing chip. Instead, it uses the old chip as an input- output controller. The benefits are easy installation, and therefore less likelihood of damage, and the ability to go into most, if not all, AT compatibles. Specialix says that the Intel Inboard cannot be attached to the Hewlett-Packard Vectra, which has a soldered processor, nor to the Olivetti M28. The 386 C- PAC, which is bought in from Applied Reasoning Corp in Boston, Massachusetts and to which Specialix has exclusive European and Middle Eastern rights, is claimed to be 50% faster than the Inboard and 10% faster than the 16MHz Compaq Deskpro 386. It has 1Mb RAM on board, expandable to 13Mb, costs UKP1,995 and like Specialix’s other boards, is being distributed in the UK by Northamber Plc and Sphinx Ltd.

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CBR Staff Writer

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