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NEC, Hitachi license HP's 64-bit Unix

Hewlett-Packard is set to license its Unix software to Hitachi and NEC, a major endorsement of HP's operating system for Intel's 64-bit Merced chip.

Hewlett-Packard is set to license its version of the Unix operating system to Hitachi and NEC, a move that would be a major endorsement for HP's technology on upcoming 64-bit computers that use Intel's next-generation Merced chip.

Among other announcements, HP tomorrow is expected to license its version of Unix, called HP-UX, to the two Japanese companies as they ready themselves for the release of Intel's next-generation processor for servers and workstations.

To date, the Japanese firms have been using their own versions of Unix on 32-bit processors. Hitachi and NEC, both of which are significant vendors of mainframe-class systems, are making the transition to other operating system software in anticipation of the large numbers of systems which will run on Intel's "Merced" processor.

Servers using HP Unix software and the Merced chip will be able to offer mainframe-class computing power. For the first time, PC vendors and large-scale computer vendors, such as Hitachi, will be able to offer high-end corporate "enterprise" computers to large corporate customers.

Reportedly, NEC is also readying mainframe computers that use an upcoming version of Windows on Merced-based systems, in addition to HP-UX.

Merced, Intel's first 64-bit processor for servers and workstations, will appear in 1999. A faster version of Merced, called McKinley, is due in 2001, according to sources.

The licensing arrangement was first related by Hitachi and NEC officials to the Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Japan's largest business daily.