PC makers are quick to adopt Pentium Pro
- By Susan M. Menke, Florence Olsen
- Nov 13, 1995
Intel Corp.'s 150- to 200-MHz Pentium Pro processors roared off
the runway this month in single, dual and quad formations that should make the ride
rougher for Silicon Graphics Inc. Rx000 reduced-instruction-set-computing platforms.
Leading computer makers are positioning their Pentium Pro boxes as enterprise servers,
but they'll come workstation-style, too, with at least 16M RAM and Microsoft Windows NT
3.51 or Windows 95 preinstalled.
Most have dual in-line memory modules for a wide data path, quad-speed CD-ROM drives
and big hard drives--1G minimum--along with brand-new goodies like Compaq Computer Corp.'s
rewritable optical drive. The only features in short supply on these powerhouses seem to
be PC Card slots and floppy drives.
At prices as low as $4,000 including monitor, the single-processor Pentium Pro machines
will force down the clearance prices of older Pentium PCs, which only recently appeared on
indefinite-quantity federal contracts.
But as with the original Pentium, there are a few glitches. Compaq, for instance, found
a networking problem with the Pentium Pro and won't ship anything containing it until next
The glitch appeared when Compaq engineers installed Peripheral Component Interconnect
and ISA network cards in the same Pentium Pro desktop machine to run it as a server. They
found it dropped clients from the network because of faulty PCI input-output functions in
the new chipset.
"We're looking to understand the situation, then work it through, and we believe
we can do that by the first quarter," said Lewis Schrock, Compaq's business manager
for commercial desktop computers.
Single-processor, 150-MHz Pentium Pro workstations, meanwhile, should show up late this
year and early in 1996. Most will have built-in heat sinks and fans to cool the
Compaq's $6,499 Deskpro XL 6150 2100/PD, with 32M RAM and 2.1G hard drive, will contain
a rewritable CD-ROM drive that also plays standard CDs, including music. The PD-CD optical
drive stores up to 650M of archived or backup data that can be overwritten. Other
features: a 64-bit Matrox Graphics Inc. Millennium graphics card and audio-based Vocalyst
Digital Equipment Corp. will make the Celebris XL with interchangeable Pentium Pro and
Alpha daughtercards. Priced below $6,000, the Celebris XL 6150 has 16M of error-correcting
code (ECC) memory and a Millennium graphics card.
For about $4,000 more, Digital provides 32M of ECC memory, 2G Wide SCSI hard drive,
Adaptec Inc. PCI SCSI adapter and AccelGraphics Inc. AG300 3D graphics card. The six-slot,
five-bay ISA/PCI Celebris can accept an Alpha processor daughtercard instead of Pentium
Pro. Every Celebris XL has Desktop Management Interface-compliant ClientWorks software
Hewlett-Packard Co. will price its Vectra XU 6/150 from $5,100, with an integrated
100Base-T/100VG-AnyLAN Ethernet card on its PCI bus. The Vectra boasts Ultra SCSI and
Master Enhanced IDE controllers, Millennium graphics accelerator and Creative Labs' 16-bit
audio processor on the motherboard.
The $3,999 Dell Computer Corp. XPS Pro150 comes with a monitor and unlimited toll-free
phone support for the system's life, plus one year of on-site, next-day service.
Preinstalled software includes both Microsoft Office 95 and Windows 95.
Zenith Data Systems plans to bring out Pentium Pro Z-Stations in 150-, 166-, 180- and
200-MHz processor speeds. Video options will include Diamond Multimedia Systems' Stealth64
Video 2201 accelerator.
CompuAdd Corp.'s $13,500, 200-MHz C6200 machine comes with a minimum of 64M RAM and
AccelGraphics' accelerator card for computer-aided design and other workstation-level
Edging into the server category, Intergraph Corp.'s TDZ series starts around $14,000
with one Pentium Pro processor and focuses specifically on three-dimensional graphics and
Intergraph's GLZ OpenGL graphics accelerators speed up applications like Reading,
Mass.-based TASC's Portable War Room. The TASC software can mix several types of
simulation data for war gaming and situational awareness. Users wear virtual-reality
headsets and operate dual joysticks to fly through a landscape, seeing map details,
military assets and other intelligence data.
Most of the Pentium Pro servers announced so far will contain a maximum of four
processors at prices starting under $10,000, although Tricord Systems Inc. will build up
to eight-way symmetric multiprocessing servers.
AST Research Inc., Compaq, Dell, Digital, IPC Technologies Inc., Unisys Corp. and ZDS
are among the companies building fast servers with standard features such as RAID arrays,
redundant power supplies, up to 1G of ECC memory, as many as 18 hot-swap drive bays and up
to 16 expansion slots.