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April 3, 1989

TECHNOLOGY RESEARCH SA OF PARIS DRIVES 80386S AT 42MHZ FOR UNIX, PROLOGUE

By CBR Staff Writer

A French company with a payroll of just 10 claims to have brought out the world’s fastest personal computer, Agence France Presse reports from Paris. Technology Research SA has developed the 386 Multi-X, equipped with an Intel 80386 processor that it drives at a breakneck 42MHz. This is considerably faster than most of its nearest rivals, which run at 25MHz, and beats Intel’s own new microprocessor offering, due for release on April 10, by 11MHz. Another feature of the 386 Multi-X is a data access time on the hard disk of just 0.6ms. The disk is searched geographically, rather than sequentially, and this is claimed to speed up the process by up to 10 times. Designed for multi-user systems running under Unix or the Frencg Prologue operating system, Research Technolgy’s 386 Multi-X will sell for around UKP10,000. And how does the company manage to drive an 80386 at 42MHz? Expensively. Microprocessors are not specifically designed to be clocked at 25MHz or 20MHz or 16MHz – the three speeds currently offered by Intel. Instead, all the chips that come off the line are tested at 25MHz, and if they work, they are marked 25MHz and sold at a premium. If they fail, they are thrown into a bin for testing at 20MHz. If they pass, that’s what they go out as; if they fail, they are tested at 16MHz, at which speed most of them should work. And even the ones that don’t perform every function at 16MHz can often be rescued for comparatively low level applications where only a few functions of the chip are needed. But those 25MHz parts may not be working at their limit at that speed, and so small manufacturers, who make only a few dozen machines a month and want to trade on their unbeatable performance, order a substantial batch of 25MHz parts from Intel and then test them at the speed at which they want their machine to motor – and hope to be able to sell on all the ones that fail at that speed without taking a loss.

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