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New Mac stations get workout

DayStar Digital and Umax Computer said they will jointly market a new line of Mac-compatible multiprocessing workstations in an effort to standardize the technology.

DayStar Digital and Umax Computer said today that they will jointly market a new line of Macintosh-compatible multiprocessing workstations in an effort to standardize the technology.

Apple Computer has had problems in the past when trying to come up with an architecture to support multiple processors, and that's something the two companies intend to change. "Since they both have an interest in the multiprocessor market, it makes a lot of sense for them to work together and come up with a standard," said Kevin Hause, research analyst with International Data Corporation.

The new systems will be based on nPower technology from DayStar Digital and will be developed and marketed by both companies, though each will take aim at different markets.

DayStar will target intensive users who require power and quad-processing systems for high-end publishing. Umax will focus on those who use a multiprocessor system primarily as a desktop or SOHO (small-office/home-office) machine, the company said.

The workstations are expected to be available at the Comdex trade show in November, though pricing has not yet been set. The Umax s900 machine currently retails for $4,295, and company predictions put sales at 100,000 units by the end of the year. Umax says it has made more than $12 million in two months with the s900.

These multiprocessor workstations add momentum to high-end Mac clones in the PC-dominated market, leaving lower-end machines behind. But Power Computing says it will change all that.

The manufacturer of the first Mac clones, Power Computing released a new line of Mac OS systems called PowerBase, which is targeted at consumer, SOHO, and education markets.

Power Computing says its new PowerBase systems outperform and cost less, with prices starting at $1,495, than comparably configured Pentium-based Windows 95 systems.

"Mac clones are showing an improvement for the first time," said Michael Rosenfelt, director of marketing for Power Computing. "People aren't willing to pay premium prices for Mac OS [machines], and now those barriers are coming down."

Power Computing, a privately held company, will not release sales figures. Rosenfelt would not comment on best-selling models but said the clones were "selling faster than we can build them."

The PowerBase line will be available in September and are designed with the PowerPC 603e RISC microprocessor, 256KB of level 2 cache, 16MB of RAM, a 1.2GB hard drive, and an 8x CD-ROM. The systems also include upgradable-CPU cards and will support DVD (Digital Video Disc) when it becomes available. For the first time, the machines will be compatible with PC mice and keyboards.

The 180-MHz machine is priced at $1,495, the 200-MHz is $1,795, and the 240-MHz, $2,195.

The clone market will most likely pick up significant market share as long as the Mac OS survives, said Hause. "If for some reason the Mac OS goes into a death spiral it would certainly take clone makers with them, but I don't think that will happen anytime soon."

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