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April 20, 1987


By CBR Staff Writer

Last month’s CAD/CAM ’87 show at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham demonstrated that Unix is fast becoming the engineer’s operating system, as Geoff Hall of Intergraph said. The stands at the Centre abounded with 32-bit Unix workstations from the likes of Sun, Torch, and Apollo. Intergraph, one of the leaders in CAD/CAM workstations took the opportunity to launch new software, MicroStation, and little benchMark Technologies produced a new product based on its Graphics Image Processor and the Fairchild Clipper chip set. Whitechapel Workstations, manufacturer of Unix-based workstations with a Cockney accent, announced price cuts and DEC had one of the few VAXstation 2000s that have made it over to this country on show.


The Intergraph MicroStation software is a three dimensional design and drafting package based on Intergraph’s Interactive Graphics Design Software intended for use on IBM Personals and compatibles as well the company’s own Interpro workstations. The package comes from Bentley Systems, in which Intergraph has acquired a 50% stake. The company says that a Personal-based configuration for MicroStation could cost as little as UKP10,000 but a system intended for real production work would be more realistically priced at around UKP20,000. The software itself costs UKP2,880. benchMark Technologies

benchMark Technologies Ltd has used its GIP Graphics Image Procesor, built of Am29116 16-bit slices, married with its Fairchild Clipper-based Unix processor board, to produce a high resolution graphics and image processing workstation, Picture Processor. Up to eight GIPs can be cascaded to provide 256 display planes; one GIP provides eight planes and has a double buffered frame store of two 1,280 by 1,024 by 8 bits per pixel. 256 simultaneous colours can be displayed at 60Hz non-interlaced. The Picture Processor comes with Unix System V.3 and input-output is controlled by an integral secondary 80286 processor. The entry level VME-based tower system, based around a single GIP with 85Mb hard disk, floppy, and 60Mb tape streamer is UKP90,000.


The Whitechapel MG-1 price cuts amount to about 20% of the old price; a fileless node version will cost around UKP5,825 and a 125Mb hard disk model with 2Mb CPU is now UKP9,750.

Cambridge Micro Computers

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Cambridge Micro Computers chose the show to launch a Unix-based workstation which the company claims outperforms any of the US-based competition such as products from Apollo and Sun. The VGS Vitesse Graphics Unit uses the 16MHz Motorola 68020 processor coupled with a 68881 floating point unit and a high resolution colour graphics controller. The graphics controller provides an analogue RGB and synchronous output with a 40MHz pixel rate, giving a line frequency of 32KHz, and provides up to 16 simultaneous colours from a palette of 4096. The one-off price for the VGS graphics workstation is UKP14,950 but reductions are available for OEM volumes.

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