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AST's new Bravos raise expectations

AST Research will take the lead in cutting-edge PC designs as it partners with Intel in a major revamp of its high-end commercial Bravo desktops.

In partnership with Intel, AST Research will take the lead in cutting-edge PC design in a major a revamp of its high-end commercial Bravo desktops to be announced in the next two weeks.

The new, aggressively priced MS and LC Bravo Pentium-based desktops and mini-towers will feature Intel software and, in the MS line, the newest Intel chipset for corporate PCs.

The rollout will reflect an increasingly aggressive product strategy in the wake of devastating losses last year. AST officials have attributed some of the company's past financial woes to delays in getting to market with new technology and products. By hooking up with Intel for the latest and greatest PC technology and by employing advanced designs of its own, the company aims to regain momentum in the fast-paced PC market, where products can be significantly revised in only two or three months.

The high-end MS Bravo line boasts an ATI Technologies ATIMach64 VT graphics subsystem that uses a new memory technology called synchronous graphics RAM (SGRAM). The high-end MS sports 16MB of Extended Data Out (EDO) RAM, pipeline burst level-2 cache, 6X CD-ROM drives, and hard disk drives up to 2GB in size.

The more affordable LC line is based an AST design that allows the system to share EDO RAM and graphics RAM for both system and graphics functions, said sources close to the company.

Both will be available with AST-CommandCenter, which incorporates Intel's LANDesk technology, to simplify management of PCs in a corporate environment. The MS and LC also both use 100-, 133-, and 166-MHz Pentium processors.

Prices will start at $1,220 for the 100-MHz LC and go up to $2,415 for 166-MHz MS, sources said.

AST kicked off its new quick-to-market strategy earlier this year with an expedited introduction of Pentium Pro-based Bravo desktops in February.