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  1. Technology
August 14, 1996


By CBR Staff Writer

Unlike most vendors that have migrated to Unix and Windows NT and thereby made themselves inessential except to the extent that they can add sufficient original value to prevent their customers defecting to the vendor of less expensive Unix and Windows NT systems down the street, NCR Corp will have a raison d’etre as long as banks need automatic teller machines and it continues to make some of the best ones around. Nevertheless, AT&T Corp sold off so many of its ancillary activities, some of which still had considerable potential, that it needs to add original value in its general computer systems business if it is not to waste away to a specialized builder of special functions terminals. And it has done just that, coming up with symmetric multiprocessing technology for tying two four-processor boards together – and the system, called OctaScale, has delighted Intel Corp so much that it has licensed it. OctaScale is a memory controller architecture designed to tie two boards such as Intel Corp’s Standard High Volume four-processor Pentium Pro boards together. Intel says it will incorporate OctaScale into future products aimed at the enterprise server market – when you are talking about a 300MHz eight-processor Pentium Pro machine as we very soon will be, that’s a very big machine indeed. NCR describes it as a simplified Non-Uniform Memory Architecture technique, but is not marketing it as a NUMA implementation. It says that in contrast to interconnect technologies such as Scalable Coherent Interface that cluster two or more four-processor symmetric multiprocessing servers, OctaScale is cheaper and eliminates the overhead of the interconnect, giving users the peformance of a true eight-processor symmetric multiprocessor in a single cabinet. No alteration is needed to the operating system or the applications when users move to eight from four processors. NCR says it plans a phased release starting late this year, and is offering the technology OEM to other vendors as well as using it in future releases of its scalable WorldMark family of servers.

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