PC 98 spec announced

PC 98 spec announced

It the recent Intel Developers Forum, Intel and Microsoft unveiled PC 98 Design Guidelines, version 1.0, fulfilling a promise made by both companies in March to co-author the specification.

The guidelines are intended to help the industry create PCs next year that are easier to manage by delivering a set of definitions for more highly integrated hardware and software platforms.

The guidelines cover graphics, video, audio, modems, Advanced Configuration and Power Interface and power management, manageability, IEEE-1394, legacy migration, and OS support.

One problem Intel and Microsoft are trying to solve is that too many competing management products do not always work well together.

"The lack of specifications has been a big negative differentiator between the PC platform and Apple, for example," said Rob Enderle, a senior analyst at the Giga Information Group.

"Things just worked better on the [Macintosh] because there was only one vendor designing the platform. Microsoft and Intel are taking what they learned that Apple did right."

Dan Russell, director of platform marketing for Intel, clarified why IT managers should care about an inside industry effort.

"PC 98 gives software developers a baseline of performance and capabilities so that they have a clear target to shoot at when designing better applications," Russell said.

David Williams, a group man- ager at Microsoft, said PC 98 also will "facilitate the shift to Windows NT".

One guideline highlight is the shift away from the Desktop Man-agement Interface for instrumen-tation to an object-oriented model called the Windows Management Interface.

"An IT manager will manage clients anywhere with any device," Russell said.

Some minimum design requirements for PC 98 systems include a 200MHz Pentium processor with MMX, 256K of Level 2 cache, 32Mb of DRAM, and the requirement that the BIOS and CMOS support dates beyond the Year 2000.


Design guidelines

Mobile system minimum requirements:

166MHz Pentium processor with MMX

24Mb of system memory

256Kb of Level 2 cache

Docking station with an IEEE-1394 port

Built-in Universal Serial Bus

One 32-bit Type-2 CardBus slot


Mini-notebook recommendations:

133MHz Pentium processor with MMX

16Mb of system memory

640 x 480 pixel resolution

Include "all functionality required to run a Windows [OS]"Intel spec to let PCs help themselvesBy Ephraim SchwartzSome of the PC industry's major players are working behind the scenes to drum up support for comprehensive management solutions.

Intel has quietly begun outlining a number of enhancements planned for the next release of its Wired For Management (WFM) specification.

The updated specification, due in the second half of 1998, will include automatic problem resolution and automatic discovery systems that locate manageable nodes, said Bob Meinschein, engineering manager at Intel's Platform Manageability Lab.

Automatic problem resolution will automate the reporting and trouble ticketing of problems. The system will also be able to diagnose a problem and match it up against a previous problem database. If it finds a match, it sends back a solution and fixes it.

The next release will also include pre-boot diagnostics, based on Desktop Management Task Force standards, which will send out a notification that a problem exists even if the server cannot be booted.

Meanwhile, Phoenix Technologies is working on management solutions that should complement some of WFM's future features.

At Comdex in Las Vegas next month, Phoenix will unveil a pair of management programs, codenamed "Remus" and "Plug Works", said a source familiar with the project. Phoenix will rename Remus and unveil it as ROM Pilot, a firmware solution for remotely booting servers. ROM Pilot will also let administrators remotely change configurations, the source said.

"Anything you can do in setup you can do with ROM Pilot," the source said.

ROM Pilot initiates enough of the network protocol to be able to communicate with the server control centre, according to the source.

Plug Works, the other Phoenix project, will have a browser interface and will reconfigure peripherals connected via PCI, IEEE 1394, or a PC Card interface.

Intel officials recently spoke about many of these same capabilities. However, when asked if Remus and Plug Works will be part of the next version of WFM, the officials demurred.

"We are working with companies such as Phoenix," Intel's Meinschein said. "Good ideas arrive from multiple places."

Included in Intel's next version of Wired for ManagementPre-boot securityPre-boot diagnosticsAutomated problem resolutionSelf-discoveryPacket filteringDynamic device management

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