The midrange PowerStorm 3D graphics subsystem will come out this quarter, to be followed by a more powerful solution later in the year. Aimed at workstation professionals in areas such as content creation and computer-aided design (CAD), the PowerStorm subsystem and similar products are the critical component of workstations, distinguishing this class of computer from ordinary PCs.
The move illuminates Compaq's increasing desire to both expand its market share and solidify its autonomy in enterprise computing. The company has been one of the sales leaders in Windows NT-based workstations. Until now, however, most of the company's customers have come from the financial and business sectors, which have not demanded strong graphics performance. Compaq's graphics technology also has come from third parties.
By contrast, Hewlett-Packard and Intergraph have generally been considered the leaders in performance Windows NT workstations. Both companies have developed their own graphics technology for high-end workstations. IBM and Dell, in fact, license Intergraph's subsystem for their high-end NT products.
The PowerStorm comes as an amalgamation of in-house and third-party technology. Compaq used Digital technology for graphics software and application performance "tuning" in conjunction with graphics chips from Evans & Sutherland.
Evans & Sutherland is an established player in the graphics hardware and software industry, having developed 3D graphics technology for applications such as flight simulator training centers. It has worked with Compaq since June 1997.
Compaq said the PowerStorm technology will be available in its recently announced XP workstations with the Alpha processor and on its PC workstations with Intel processors starting in the third quarter of 1998.