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January 12, 1988

SYMMETRIC PICKS CLIPPER SET TO PLUG HOLE IN DEC’s LINE

By CBR Staff Writer

Intending to fill a price-performance gap in the DEC product line, Symmetric Computer Systems Corp, Fremont, California, has introduced its Model 875, dubbed a meta-micro, which, as reported briefly (CI No 842) is based on the Intergraph Clipper C100 chip set. Symmetric claims to have built a computer the size of the MicroVAX II that delivers the performance of a VAX 8600. The 32 bit Model 875 uses the Texas Instruments NuBus, also adopted by Apple, which Symmetric considers the RISC bus of buses. When it is combined with Texas Instruments’ Lisp-compatible CPU boards, Symmetric says it can become a Lisp machine with Unix on the 875 processor as a front end. It will also go out as a technical workstation with additional graphics controller board from Apple for the NuBus. Options include Ethernet and X25 packet switching controller boards. The system has 4M-byte-per second-per-channel SCSI bus adaptors, and memory can grow from 4Mb to 128Mb.

The Model 875 will be sold with Symmetric’s version of Unix, combining 4.3 BSD and Unix System V but a VMS shell is under development to shield users familiar with the DEC VAX environment from the brutal Unix commands. A standard configuration with a VT220-compatible terminal, 4Mb main memory, eight serial ports, 80Mb disk and an operating system is $10,000. A fully-configured 875 with 128Mb memory and 3.2Gb disk storage is just $45,000. Symmetric will be selling through five regional distributors in the US into the traditional DEC mid-range market, according to Digital Review magazine. The Model 875 is set for delivery in March and will use the new Clipper C300 when it is ready.

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