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Intel set to dominate workstations

Workstations based on Intel processors and designs will increasingly dominate the market in the coming years, according to industry research group International Data.

Workstations based on Intel processors and designs will increasingly dominate the market in the coming years, according to industry research group International Data.

A new crop of systems based on the powerful Pentium Pro processor--announced last fall by Intel--is taking the commercial workstation market by storm and forcing traditional Unix-based RISC workstation vendors such as Sun Microsystems to abandon forays into this growing segment, International Data (IDC) said.

A workstation can be roughly defined as a high-performance standalone computer that excels at graphics and number crunching.

The commercial workstation segment includes Web content development and consumer PC applications. Most of these Intel-based commercial workstations run Microsoft's Windows NT operating system instead of Unix, the mainstay OS of traditional vendors.

Because of Intel's domination, "the traditional workstation vendors have retreated from their strategy of two years ago to expand into the commerical segments," said Thomas Copeland, director of workstation research at IDC.

Down the road, Intel's next-generation P7 processor--expected to be announced in 1997 or 1998--will also make the chip maker extremely competitive at the "high, high end" of the workstation market, said Copeland.

Nevertheless, Intel today still faces an uphill battle in the technical workstation market, which encompasses scientific and engineering applications, Copeland said. "Companies with a large investment in Unix are often not willing to mix Unix and Windows NT systems," he added.

Copeland also said there is a dearth of applications and application suites for Intel-based systems in the technical market.