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November 26, 1991


By CBR Staff Writer

Houston-based Texas Microsystems Inc has announced a new line of fault-tolerant MS-DOS-compatible personal computers. The basis of the FTSA’s fault-tolerance is an enhanced BIOS (Basic Input-Output System), which co-ordinates data transfer and controls instructions between the central processor, peripherals and custom co-processors. The diagnostic co-processor monitors system operations, warns of impending failures and takes steps to prevent data loss, while the co-processor monitoring system functions 1,000 times per second, treats user commands as requests in an attempt to thwart inadvertent errors. In the event of power failure, the diagnostic processor switches to back-up battery, and instructs the system processor to save automatically all open files before shutting down the system. Other features include RAID 1 storage, a co-processor on the SCSI-2 controller, a disk cache management scheme that can be configured for either write-through or write-back operation and BIOS-based support for advanced disk management capabilities. Also, data change auditing enables hard disk data roll-back to a consistent point predating a hardware failure. All models in the FTSA range feature a protective power array system, located in a dedicated power bay in the system’s chassis, and use a co-processor to monitor and regulate voltages to prevent power surges. FTSA also offers dual, universal and hot-swappable power supplies. The systems employ a passive backplane architecture with eight AT slots for CPU and expansion cards, and a synchronous bus controller which couples the CPU to accessory cards, all of which are vertically mounted. The systems will be available with a range of Intel 80386 and 80486-based cards with sockets for Weitek Corp co-processors, and they can be configured with 4Mb to 64Mb RAM using 4Mb in-line memory modules. Storage options include SCSI mirrored hard disk drives ranging from 120Mb to 360Mb. The FTSA will be sold also as a server for workgroup local nets, running Novell Inc’s NetWare Lite and Artisoft’s LANtastic network operating systems under MS-DOS. The FTSA series is scheduled to ship in the first quarter of next year, with prices starting at around $6,500 for an entry-level system.

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