It represents a tiny proportion of the company’s current business, but Microsoft Corp and Windows NT are steadily making inroads at the low end of the server market that are frightening the Unix crowd, and the Unix majors now reckon they have to hedge their bets and at least keep a watching brief on NT. Yesterday, Tandem Computers Inc, which has been muttering about the thing for some time, and formed a Windows NT Business Unit back in March (CI No 2,619), announced a letter of intent to take MIPS RISC-based servers designed to run Windows NT from NeTpower Inc. Tandem also plans to add key high availability enhancements to the NeTpower servers in order to extend the reach of Windows NT in the arena of business-critical applications. Tandem reckons the deal adds significant value to the Windows NT market as it rapidly grows into enterprise application areas, such as complex transaction processing, messaging, and databases. Sunnyvale-based NeTpower has just introduced a 250MHz FASTseries line of NT personal workstations and servers, and they are designed exclusively for Windows NT. They use the latest implementation of the MIPS RISC R4400 250MHz microprocessors and come with dual R4400s and up to 4Mb of secondary cache, and come in FASTseries MP Workstation and SMP Server versions, and designed for compute-intensive applications such as Parametric Technology’s Pro/Engineer and Microsoft’s SQL Server, outperforming similarly configured Unix and Pentium-based machines by a factor of two to three times. Prices start at under $15,000 and the company’s pitch is that it offers the performance of the fastest Unix systems at half the price. The FASTseries is available in single and dual processor configurations with clocks ranging from 133MHz to 250MHz. The company simultaneously announced a FASTsolids Elite 3D Graphics Accelerator for the workstations, and claimed the best three-dimensional graphics and imaging performance in the NT market. It is claimed to deliver true 24-bit Z-buffered three-dimensuonal rendering in hardware, and is designed for the PCI bus, which in the FAST architecture provides over 100M-bytes per second sustained throughput on the bus. The FASTsolids Elite 3D Graphics Accelerator is $5,500. Since Tandem now majors on the MIPS RISC processor family for all its NonStop and Unix machines, it will be a short step to adapting models of the latter family to run Windows NT if it finds the NeTpower machines fly.
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