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Tech Industry

Workstations to get boost

Micron Electronics will be one of the first companies to ship a computer with 64-bit technology for improved performance in high-end workstation computers.

    Micron Electronics will be one of the first companies to a ship a computer with 64-bit technology for improved performance in high-end workstation computers.

    Micron will ship a new workstation computer with the company's own chipset, which will offer the ability to move five times as much information between the various internal components of a computer, such as the hard disk drive, graphics cards, and the main processor.

    The chipset, along with the processor, forms the core electronics of a personal computer. Current chipsets support 32-bit PCI (peripheral component interconnect) technology, which runs at 33 MHz. The PCI bus on systems using the Micron Samurai chipset is 64-bit and runs at 66 MHz, allowing more information to be processed by the computer in a shorter amount of time.

    Micron says the technology will first be used in a new line of personal workstations called the Powerdigm XSU. Personal workstations are high-powered computers based on Intel's Pentium Pro processor or its Pentium II. These systems come with high-end 3D graphics chips and are aimed for use in engineering, science, and finance.

    "We went out and looked at competing technologies, and we saw a lot of holes and limitations from a mainstream chipset. We felt our own chipset would have ideal characteristics for use in workstations," says Terrence Groth, platform manager for workstations at Micron.

    Groth says that the use of faster peripherals such as high performance hard disk drives (known as Ultrawide SCSI), graphics accelerators, and the impending introduction of faster networking technologies has placed demands on the PCI bus that the current chipsets can't keep up with, limiting overall system performance.

    "We saw the new chipset as something we could address that could eliminate these bottlenecks," Groth says. A typical PCI bus can feed 60 to 80MB per second of data to the rest of the system, Groth says, while Micron's system can achieve up to 400MB per second of throughput. The result is 30- to 50-percent higher performance compared to other workstations, Groth claims.

    The Powerdigm XSU features dual 300-MHz Pentium II processors, 10/100Mbps ethernet, a 100MB Zip drive, and a 19-inch monitor. It starts at $6,199.