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Hitachi, Digital team up on servers

Hitachi and Digital Equipment will jointly develop high-end server computers to replace mainframe machines, based on the Windows NT operating system.

Hitachi and Digital Equipment will jointly develop high-end server computers to replace mainframe machines, based on the Windows NT operating system.

Hitachi, a major mainframe manufacturer, will provide

In dangered?: A Hitachi mainframe
Endangered?: A Hitachi mainframe
Digital with mainframe technology, according to a report in the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Japan?s largest business daily. Digital will supply server software technology, the newspaper said.

This deal with one of Japan?s largest computer makers comes just after Compaq, the world?s largest PC manufacturer, said last week that it intends to buy Digital for $9.6 billion dollars.

Hitachi?s strategy calls for it to focus more on server computers and move away from mainframes, the report said. The servers will use Microsoft's Windows NT operating system and be sold at prices well below mainframes.

The two companies will begin selling the server by mid-year, the report said.

"The nature of commoditization of architectures is that it has been like global warming--it's a slow trend that's been going in one direction for a long time," says Nathan Brookwood, semiconductor analyst with Dataquest, referring to an ongoing transformation of highly proprietary, large-scale computers into more standardized machines.

Mainframes comprise about half of Hitachi?s computer sales. By comparison, NEC and Fujitsu currently ship many more NT servers than Hitachi, the newspaper said.

In related news, reports last week from Japan said NEC will use an upcoming version of Windows NT and Intel?s 64-bit Merced processor in future mainframe computers.

NEC is studying ways to run NT applications in addition to existing mainframe applications on the same system. The company will slowly integrate Windows NT into its mainframe lineup as increasingly powerful systems become available.