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July 28, 1988


By CBR Staff Writer

Steve Jobs’ acquisition Pixar Corp has announced an interface between its Pixar II image computer and Apple’s Macintosh II workstation in an attempt to address a wider market, reports the Microbytes newswire. The interface enables the Mac II running under Apple’s A/UX version of Unix to act as the user interface for the Pixar II, which is of course optimised for real-time image processing. The system includes graphic routines written in C for use in graphic arts, scientific visualisation, remote sensing and mapping, and medical imaging, but was previously only accessible through high-performance professional workstations from Sun, Apollo, and Silicon Graphics. Pixar president Ed Catmull said the move was intended to bring high-performance graphics to the low cost arena: That’s how you make an impact on the world, said Catmull. Using the Mac II as a front end, a Pixar system can be had for under $50,000, he says, although pricing is dependent on the amount of memory, which goes from 12Mb to 108Mb. The Pixar II’s channel processor architecture allows it to execute graphics routines at up to 200 times the speed of a VAX 11/780, according to Pixar, and it has a video resolution of 1,280 by 1,024. Connection to the Mac is via the SCSI interface. But a rival for the Mac may be just around the corner, once the long-awaited Next Inc workstation from Steve Jobs’ other company finally materialises.

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