IBM will shortly add some processing muscle to both its AIX and Windows NT-based workstation lineups with three new models. The company is also introducing a workgroup conferencing product that lets AIX and NT desktop users collaborate via the Internet.
The new boxes, one of which is IBM's first 64-bit workstation, are being aimed at product designers and engineers to help reduce development time and manufacturing costs.
The units will go head-to-head with offerings from arch rivals Sun and Hewlett-Packard.
"Our advanced users are telling us they really need to exceed the capabilities of 32-bit hardware. They want 64-bit technology to help escape the 2GB memory addressing limit so they can deal more efficiently with complex product development," said John Holz, vice president of IBM's Workstation Marketing, in New York.
Along with the workstation announcements, IBM will also unveil its next-generation RISC-based processor, which fuels the new RS/6000 43P Model 260.
The 64-bit Power3 chip features eight different execution units fed by a 6.4Gbps memory subsystem and is expected to speed graphic-intensive applications.
Best in its class
The Model 260's performance, which IBM officials claim is now the best in its class, is due in part to a design that allows it to work tightly together with a GXT3000P graphics adapter and greater bandwidth, according to company officials.
The second RISC-based system, the 43P Model 150, is anchored around a 375MHz version of the PowerPC chip and will be marketed to developers and users of mechanical computer-aided design applications.
The third system is a spruced up Intellistation Z Pro, a 450MHz Intel Pentium II-based system bundled with Windows NT, which includes IBM's Universal Management Agent, as well as Alert-On-LAN and Wake-On-LAN software.
The Workgroup Conferencing product, based on technology developed by Lotus Development, is intended to support server-based videoconferencing sessions with large numbers of users.
The product works via the Internet and communicates with Microsoft's NetMeeting videoconferencing software. The Workgroup Conferencing product will be included in a forthcoming version of Lotus' e-Suite family, according to company officials.
Accompanying the new RISC-based workstations is an updated version of AIX, Version 4.3.2, which has been enhanced to handle the new system's increased graphics performance and operating system interoperability.
The three new workstations come bundled with management software developed by Tivoli.