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300-MHz workstations from Tatung

The company releases three new 300-MHz UltraSparc-II workstations, outdoing Intel-based competitors in speed but not price.

Tatung Science & Technology has released three new 300-MHz workstations built around chips from Sun Microsystems, outdoing Intel-based competitors in speed but not price.

Tatung has also dropped prices on earlier models, but all its systems still cost much more than the typical workstation based on Intel processors and the Windows NT operating system from companies like Compaq Computer (CPQ).

NT workstations, various analysts say, have already cut into the market based on Sun technology. Compaq, for instance, just released a second generation of workstations earlier this month and has said that it will pursue the market vigorously.

"If you are in the Unix market, it's not good news," said David Wu, technology analyst with Amro Chicago.

Still, von Clemm stated that Sun still enjoys a dominant market share of about 43 percent. The company will also continue to pursue clone and licensing deals to expand the Sparc/Solaris platform. Most of these, like Tatung, are the high-end specialty workstation market, which requires extra power and special features.

Tatung's newest high-end workstations are the Compstation U2300, which contains two UltraSparc-II 300 MHz microprocessors, and the Compstation U1300, which contains one UltraSparc-II 300 MHz processor. Standard configurations include 128MB of memory, a 4GB hard drive, and the Solaris 2.5.1 operating system.

In addition, Tatung also released the Compstation U300E+, an UltraSparc 300-MHz processor workstation with a stripped-down list of features aimed at the more cost-conscious market.

Unlike higher-end machines, for instance, the 300E+ does not handle symmetric multiprocessing out of the box, according to a Tatung spokeswoman, though the machine can be upgraded for symmetric multiprocessing.

The U2300 and U1300 start at $31,320 and $22,020 respectively, while the U300E+ starts at $18,850.

These boxes are more powerful than their Intel-based counterparts but sell for nearly 100 percent more. A Compaq Professional Workstation 8000, with two 200-MHz Pentium Pro processors, 128MB of memory, and a 4GB hard drive, starts at $11,400, with no monitor.

Conscious of this price pressure, Tatung reduced the price by close to 20 percent of its UltraSparc workstations, a line of one- and two-processor workstations in the 166- to 200-MHz range released in December. A Compstation with two 200-MHz UltraSparc processors with 128MB of memory, monitor, and a 4GB hard drive now costs $25,865, down from $20,920.

Sun's licensees are typically specialized workstation companies. According to Pierre von Clemm, product line manager for UltraSparc at Sun, about 15 companies are making Sparc-powered stations. Tatung claims to be the largest licensee.