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Digital has 600-MHz workstation

New "personal" workstations running Windows NT on Digital's Alpha RISC processor will latch onto NT's growth while appeasing Unix customers.

New Digital Equipment (DEC) workstations will use a 600-MHz version of the company's Alpha RISC processor to latch onto the growth of the Windows NT platform while appeasing the traditional Unix workstation customer.

Digital is calling its systems "personal" workstations. They are offered either with the Windows NT operating system or the Unix operating system; they start at $10,000 and range up to about $27,000 in price.

A personal workstation has generally been defined as a high-powered system based on Intel's Pentium Pro processor or the upcoming Pentium II. Generally, these are priced below $10,000--below $5,000 from some vendors. Personal workstations are typically being pitted against vendors of Unix workstations with RISC processors such as Sun Microsystems and Hewlett Packard, which have traditionally dominated these markets.

"We're extending the benefits of our experience in designing NT workstations to the Unix platform. We're not backing away from NT [by offering a Unix system]. We have a substantial business in Unix servers, and a Unix workstation complements our product portfolio," says Ron Locklin, vice president of visual computing for Digital.

"Our intention with the introduction of this product announcement is to say that we are the only vendor of Windows NT on RISC in the long haul," Locklin says.

Additionally, Locklin says Digital is calling its Unix product a personal workstations because "We're offering the power of a traditional workstation but with personal computer pricing and personal productivity tools." Unix-RISC workstations are commonly dedicated to the use of specialized applications for such tasks as 3D modeling and have not offered applications such as Microsoft Excel or Word. Digital says it is offering a trial version of WordPerfect for Unix on its system.

Digital is offering Personal Workstations with 433-, 500- and 600-MHz versions of the Alpha processor. All are available with PowerStorm graphics accelerators, the company says. The 433a with a 433-MHz Alpha chip, 32MB of memory and Windows NT starts at $4,995, but pricing on other models wasn't available.

The 433au with with a 433-MHz Alpha chip, 64MB of memory and Unix starts at $10,000; the 500au with a 500-MHz Alpha and 128 MB of memory starts at $18,600. The 600au with a 600-MHz Alpha and 128MB of memory is priced starting at $26,700.

Digital says all models are currently available, with the exception of the 600a and 600au, which will be available in July.

Digital also sells a line of personal workstations that use Windows NT and Intel's Pentium Pro processor.