A large number of PC vendors are vying for a piece of the content creation market, which covers everything from Web sites and print publications to videos and games.
Content creators are increasingly buying workstations that use the Windows NT operating system running on Intel's Pentium Pro or Pentium II processors. Windows-Intel workstations are typically pitted against vendors of Unix workstations with RISC processors, such as Sun Microsystems (SUNW) and Silicon Graphics (SGI), which have traditionally dominated these markets.
In the publishing market, Digital says it is taking aim at Apple's PowerPC systems as well as Intergraph's Pentium-based systems, although officials downplay the attack on Apple. "Rather than look at it as a replacement, look at it as [way] to do new tasks," said Reese Gautschi, product marketing manager for Digital.
Few vendors offer both RISC and Pentium processors in their lineup, but Digital is straddling both worlds, offering the new Creation Studio workstations with 32-bit Pentium processors in the 300i model and the 64-bit Alpha processors in the 500a system. The two models are priced equivalently.
Earlier this fall, Intel agreed to acquire the Digital semiconductor plant that makes the Alpha chips and to cooperate with Digital in the development of next-generation computers based on Intel's forthcoming 64-bit chip, code-named Merced. Intel will also fabricate future Alpha processors for Digital, an arrangement that Digital claims will boost Alpha's chance for survival as a platform.
"The architecture will extend well beyond 2005. The longevity of the platform is guaranteed [because of the arrangement with Intel]. It positions us as a marketing and sales arm for Alpha and takes us out of the foundry business," said Gautschi.
Digital's Alpha systems are already used in Hollywood studios for special effects rendering, as are systems from SGI. But to appeal to a larger media audience, Digital has partnered with companies such as Quark, a market of popular desktop publishing software, and MetaCreations, a vendor of graphics design software, as well as 30 other software vendors.
Both the 300i and the 500a systems come with 64MB of memory, a 4GB hard disk drive, graphics accelerator card, and 17-inch monitor, according to the company. Both are priced at $4,995.