Japan-US Business Report LogoJapan-U.S. Business Report

No. 345, June 1998

Issue Index

American Companies in Japan


COMPUTERS AND PERIPHERALS

Data warehousing has spread from big financial institutions to Japan's shinkin (credit associations or credit unions). Two Kanagawa prefecture shinkin, one based in Kawasaki and the other in Tachikawa, are the first in their business to install the systems. Both were built by COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary. A fault- tolerant, high-availability, scalable NonStop Himalaya S7000 server, a product of Compaq-owned TANDEM COMPUTERS, INC., is at the core of each DWH system.

Since January, BANK OF YOKOHAMA, LTD. has been using a computer system codeveloped with NCR CORP.'s subsidiary that allows Japan's top regional bank to offer banking by telephone while at the same time enabling it to develop new financial products and services for customers based on an analysis of their transactions. Now, the partners are marketing the Call Center system, which costs between $2.2 million and $3.7 million to construct, to other regional banks. They hope to sell 10 systems by the end of the year, capitalizing on the need for banks to adapt in an era of financial deregulation. The NCR affiliate handles the Call Center's hardware side; Bank of Yokohama developed the operating software.

To cut costs in today's more competitive financial environment, some regional banks are starting to share computer systems. IBM JAPAN LTD. wants to help these financial institutions build their joint systems and then to operate them through its IBM GLOBAL SERVICES JAPAN SOLUTION AND SERVICES CO., LTD. This company brings unique credentials to the job since it has on staff a large number of banking system specialists previously employed by a computer affiliate of failed HOKKAIDO TAKUSHOKU BANK, LTD. (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 344, May 1998, p. 11). Initiatives like this are one way IBM Japan hopes to build its outsourcing business into a $740.7 million operation in 2000 from $74.1 million-plus a year now.

IBM JAPAN LTD. is exploring ways to boost sales of servers and PCs to corporate customers in a no-growth market. For starters, it has revamped its relationship with CANON SALES CO., INC., which handles through its roughly 6,000 outlets approximately 20 percent of the nearly 1 million PCs IBM Japan sells annually. About 100 Canon Sales shops have been designated server specialists, with in-house personnel backstopped by technical and sales support staff dispatched by IBM Japan. The company also reportedly is thinking about selling home PCs directly to some big retailers, cutting out middlemen and passing that savings on to buyers.

The 10,000 or so members of Club IBM are being given the chance to bid via IBM JAPAN LTD.'s home page on unsold inventory put up for auction. At the first auction, people were able to buy new Aptiva home computers and ThinkPad notebook computers for about half of the retail price. IBM Japan plans to run three auctions a month for Club IBM members, both to reward them for their loyalty and also to recoup at least some money on products that did not live up to sales forecasts.

The fifth generation of INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORP.'s S/390 enterprise-class server, first introduced in 1994, has been released to world markets. Based on CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) technology, the S/390 G5 performs more than 900 million instructions per second when configured with 10 microprocessors. That is as much as double the performance of S/390 G4 servers. The 16 models in the series also offer expanded memory, balanced system design and increased I/O bandwidth to facilitate customers' connections to enterprise networks while increasing data access. Web serving is one marketing focus for the S/390 G5 since the system enables Internet service providers to handle approximately 800 million hits a day. Volume shipments will start in August. IBM JAPAN LTD. has priced the monthly lease for a 10-processor model from $70,000.

Upping the bar in the high-performance computing field, SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC.'s subsidiary is offering all Sun HPC 3000 through Sun HPC 10000 (Starfire) servers with its 336-MHz UltraSPARC II processor. This chip, the company claims, gives customers in compute-intensive, technical computing environments the industry's fastest, most cost-effective general-purpose HPC system. All the Unix machines, including the 64-processor Sun HPC 10000, use the Solaris operating system and run Sun's HPC 2.0 software, which enables both the development and the execution of serial and parallel high-performance applications.

Also bolstering its position in the mainstream Unix server market, the local operation of SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC. introduced four models in the Sun Enterprise X500 Series for compute- and I/O-intensive data base, decision support and business applications. They, too, use UltraSPARC II processors. Pricing runs from $136,400 for the Sun Enterprise 5500 model to $291,300 for the high-end Sun Enterprise MBC- S950.

DIGITAL EQUIPMENT CORP.'s Japan unit also has strengthened its midrange server lineup with a pair of DIGITAL AlphaServers built around a superfast 600-MHz Alpha chip, a 64-bit RISC (reduced instruction-set computing) processor. The DIGITAL AlphaServer 4000 5/600, which can be equipped with two processors, is designed for users running scientific and commercial applications that require high performance and a large number (16) of PCI (peripheral component interconnect) I/O slots. The DIGITAL AlphaServer 4100 5/600, with up to four processors, is performance-driven, providing not just a faster processor but also faster memory and more and faster cache. DEC's subsidiary is projecting sales of 1,000 units for the two systems, which are priced, respectively, at $105,000 and $111,000.

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The IBM Netfinity family of servers from INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORP. has been expanded with the addition of the entry-level, $3,000 Netfinity 3000 for file/print and applications computing and the Netfinity 5500. The latter machine, which comes standard with a 350-MHz or a 400-MHz Pentium II processor, is a high- availability, midrange server designed to handle complex network system demand.

In its own words, SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC. is "cranking up the heat" on the competition in the high-end Unix workstation market by introducing a higher- performance version of the recently released Ultra 60. The new machine is powered by one or two 360-MHz UltraSPARC processors in place of the original 300-MHz engine, each of which has 4 megabytes of cache and 1.9 gigabytes of system throughput. Sun's subsidiary has priced the single-processor model at $31,400, while the dual-processor version goes for $43,600.

With the addition of three models to its TDZ 2000 ViZual Workstation product line, INTERGRAPH CORP. no doubt would say that it is cranking up the heat in the market for Windows NT three-dimensional workstations. At the high end, the new TDZ 2000 GT1, which utilizes a single or dual 400-MHz and higher Pentium II processors, delivers an I/O bandwidth of nearly 1 gigabit per second and a record peak memory bandwidth of 1.6 gigabit per second. Targeted at technical and creative professionals, it starts at $12,900. At the low end, the TDZ 2000 GL1 offers workstation-level performance for prices as low as $4,600. It is powered by one or two 266-MHz, 300- MHz or 333-MHz Pentium II processors. In between is the TDZ 2000 GL2. It, too, incorporates one or two 400-MHz Pentium IIs with INTEL CORP.'s new 440BX support chipset. That part performs various system tasks in concert with the main processor, delivering up to a 30 percent performance improvement running data-intensive applications compared with older-generation Pentium systems.

The DIGITAL Creation Studio 333i+ from DIGITAL EQUIPMENT CORP.'s subsidiary is targeted at the same group of price-sensitive professionals working in a Windows NT Workstation 4.0 environment. The $5,500 machine runs off a 333-MHz Pentium II processor with MMX technology and incorporates a 440LX chipset. At the same time, DEC scheduled a July release for the DIGITAL Creation Studio 3D 500a, which uses the company's own 500-MHz Alpha processor but also runs Windows NT Workstation 4.0.

DIGITAL EQUIPMENT CORP. also strengthened its high-end Windows NT server lineup with the release of the DIGITAL Server 7105/7105R, which can handle as many as four 200-MHz Pentium Pro processors. They are designed for mail and messaging, Internet/intranet and electronic commerce applications. A pedestal-based 7105 with a pair of processors starts at $28,100, while a rack-mounted 7105R using a single processor costs $21,300.

Companies looking for an affordable departmental or branch office server for Internet/intranet, file/print and data base applications are the target customers for COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s ProLiant 3000. It brings to the job one or two 333-MHz Pentium II processors, plus a system memory that can be expanded to 3 gigabytes. The base configuration of the ProLiant 3000 is $9,300.

The first INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORP. commercial desktop PC incorporating INTEL CORP.'s BX core chipset is available in Japan. The PC 300PL also is the first PC to feature IBM Asset ID, a new deployment, inventory and security system based on radio-frequency technology, and IBM Alert on LAN, a manageability technology. The PC 300PL works off a 350-MHz or a 400-MHz Pentium II processor. Pentium II chips running at these clock speeds also are available for the first time in the PC 300GL. .....Similar hardware is available from the subsidiary of Nampa, Idaho- based MICRON ELECTRONICS, INC. The minitower ClientPro incorporates either a 350-MHz or a 400-MHz Pentium II as well as the bandwidth-enhancing 440BX chipset. Manageability is provided by INTEL CORP.'s PRO/100 with the Wake on LAN Network Interface and its LANDesk Client Manager software. ClientPro pricing starts at $2,200.

UNISYS CORP.'s subsidiary is shipping the first corporate desktop PC with a built-in DVD-RAM (digital video disc-random access memory) drive. The Windows NT Aquanta DLX features a 300-MHz Pentium II processor. It goes for about $4,200.

Corporate desktop PCs built around INTEL CORP.'s low-cost Celeron processor are trickling onto the market. For instance, COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s local unit is selling the Deskpro EP6266C/3.21/CDS15, which features a 266-MHz version of the processor as well as the 440BX chipset. Pricing begins at $1,200.

In the latest revamp of its Aptiva home PC family, IBM JAPAN LTD. released the industry's first system based on a 300-MHz K6 processor from ADVANCED MICRO DEVICES, INC. The $1,900-and-up price of the 57V brings affordability to the Aptiva E line's of performance and expandability. IBM Japan also added a pair of Pentium II- based models to the Aptiva E series, the 58 (a 266-MHz processor) and the 48 (a 300- MHz chip).

Also refreshing its ThinkPad family of notebook computers, IBM JAPAN LTD. introduced three lines equipped with the latest mobile Pentium II processor. The ThinkPad 770 redefines the high end. Equipped with a 266-MHz processor, it features a 14.1-inch active-matrix LCD display with a resolution of 1024x768 and 8.1 gigabytes of storage standard. In the middle is the ThinkPad 600, which strikes a balance between performance and portability in the form of a system weighing less than 5 pounds and measuring just 1.4 inches thick. At the entry level is the ThinkPad 380 sporting an integrated diskette, CD-ROM and hard disk drive and a 12.1-inch display. The new models start off at anywhere from $4,400 to $7,000.

The performance-enhancing PowerPC G3 processor has given a boost to sales of APPLE COMPUTER INC. products in Japan as well as in the United States. To keep that momentum going, its subsidiary unveiled the top-of-the-line Power Macintosh G3 MT300 desktop system. At its heart is a 300-MHz implementation of the processor. Pricing is open, but the MT300 is likely to go for $3,000 or so. .....APPLE COMPUTER INC.'s local operation also is marketing four versions of the sleek Macintosh PowerBook G3 notebook computer. The firm is touting not just their performance but also their advanced multimedia capabilities and their integrated communications. Estimated street prices start at $1,500.

Point-of-sale terminals are becoming more sophisticated, as proved by the 4614 SureOne POS Terminal from IBM JAPAN LTD. It is a PC as well as a cash register, running off-the-shelf and custom applications. SureOne compactly packages together the PC, keyboard, credit-card reader, receipt printer and monitor. Eight communications ports also allow the addition of such options as scanners and check readers. A system with no receipt printer costs $3,100. A model equipped with an impact printer costs $3,700, while one with a thermal printer lists for $3,900.

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In July, NCR CORP.'s subsidiary will start shipping a Windows NT-based cash dispenser. A primary selling point of the PersonaS 70 is the machine's potential for marketing and merchandising since a bank can have the $20,700 system customized in both appearance and function. Over the next three years, NCR's local unit expect to sell 6,000 PersonaS 70 machines.

The concept of storage area networking -- a highly scalable, managed server-storage infrastructure -- is starting to gain ground in Japan, enough so that GADZOOX NETWORKS, INC. has moved into the market. The self-described leader in Fibre Channel SAN solutions has tapped ITOCHU ELECTRONICS CO., LTD. and TOKYO ELECTRON LTD. to resell its entire line to OEMs and resellers. The San Jose, California company's products include the Gibraltar family of managed hubs, the Denali area switch and the Ventana SAN management architecture.

Fibre Channel connectivity to the host is available with the DIGITAL StorageWorks Fibre Channel RAID Array 7000 departmental storage system from DIGITAL EQUIPMENT CORP.'s subsidiary. A fully integrated Ultra SCSI (small computer system interface) RAID (redundant array of independent disks) subsystem, it ensures continuous access to critical applications and data residing on all the popular computing platforms. The RAID Array 7000 houses 24 slots for UltraSCSI disk drives in a cabinet, providing 218 gigabytes of capacity if DEC's 9-GB UltraSCSI drives are used or 432 GB if 18-GB drives are deployed. Moreover, storage can be expanded to one or two additional cabinets supporting 48 or 72 disks. The base configuration of the RAID Array 7000 is $92,600.

COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s marketing organization also is pushing Fibre Channel storage solutions for integrating data base and Web servers to server clusters. Its Fibre Channel Storage Hub 7 connects up to 873.6 GB of storage into a single server slot and packs as much as 1.4 terabytes into a rack. Like the RAID Array 7000, it has a data throughput of 100 MB per second so that bottlenecks at the host-to-storage interface are eliminated. The server-side board costs around $3,000.

The Fireball EL family of 3.5-inch hard disk drives for commercial and high-end desktop PCs is shipping. The latest additions to QUANTUM CORP.'s Fireball line of magnetoresistive-based drives offer capacities of 2.5 GB, 5.1 GB, 7.6 GB and 10.2 GB. Data throughput has been expanded with the use of new firmware and a 512-kilobyte buffer. In addition, the drives incorporate a shock protection system to protect against the impact of mishandling during shipping or integration into a PC. The Milpitas, California company's subsidiary has priced the four Fireball EL models between $200 and $420.

San Jose, California-based TERASTOR CORP., the originator of the Near Field Recording disk drive, has added YAMAHA CORP. as a development and manufacturing partner. It previously lined up HITACHI MAXELL, LTD. and TOSOH CORP. to make magneto-optical media for its ultra-high-capacity, high-performance random access storage products (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 341, February 1998, p. 13). Like those companies, Yamaha will supply all the disks it makes to TeraStor. NFR drives are scheduled to reach the market this year.

Roughly $2,000 will buy APPLE COMPUTER INC.'s stylish Apple Studio Display. The 15.1-inch flat-panel design takes up just a fraction of the desk space of a CRT monitor. Moreover, the Apple Studio Display's TFT AMLCD technology provides significantly improved brightness, contrast and sharpness compared with traditional displays. Apple also incorporated a number of "smart" features in the monitor as well as a software-based tool that allows users to customize their viewing experience.

As part of a worldwide launch, HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. introduced the HP LaserJet 8000 family of departmental printers. This replacement for the HP LaserJet 5Si Series printers completes for now HEWLETT-PACKARD CO.'s overhaul of its laser printer line. Powered by a 133-MHz processor and incorporating 16 MB of base memory, the LaserJet 8000 prints 24 pages per minute. It offers simple network peripheral management and the capability to print multiple original prints of a document. The base model of the LaserJet 8000 lists for about $3,200, including two 500-sheet trays and a 100-sheet multipurpose tray. The network model costs $3,500 or so.

Backing up its move into the market for large-format printers for graphics professionals, HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. introduced the HP DesignJet 3000CP and the HP DesignJet 3500CP. The former, priced at $18,400, can accommodate media widths up to 36 inches, while the latter, which costs $21,400, can handle 54-inch-wide sheets. Both models make photo-quality color images up to 150-feet long, with a resolution of 600 dots per inch and automatic color calibration. PostScript drivers for both Windows and Macintosh are included.

In its latest development contract with a Japanese printer manufacturer, ELECTRONICS FOR IMAGING, INC. is working with FUJI XEROX CO., LTD. to bring high-quality digital color printing to the desktop. The first product to incorporate the San Mateo, California firm's Fiery X2e embedded color controller already has been announced. The FX Color Laser Wind 3320PS prints four pages per minute in color at 600 dots per inch and 16 ppm in black and white. It features ADOBE SYSTEMS, INC.'s PostScript 3 and can handle 12x18-inch paper for full-bleed color proofing.

RAINBOW TECHNOLOGIES, INC. of Irvine, California has given INTRANET SYSTEMS, INC. the right to distribute its CryptoSwift accelerator board, which contains a proprietary cryptographic coprocessor that off-loads and speeds up the operations of a server's main central processing unit. The $2,200 product will be marketed to Web server operators that are having trouble providing secure Internet transactions during peak-load times. CryptoSwift is said to improve a server's response time by 50 percent while increasing secure server capacity to process up to 10 times more clients. The Tokyo distributor expects to sell 500 boards in the first year of marketing.

In October, VERIFONE, INC.'s subsidiary will introduce a localized version of the VeriFone Personal ATM appliance. The Redwood City, California company's device initially is expected to be used to allow customers to load electronic cash onto their smart cards at home. However, the VeriSmart client-server software allows the product to be used for a variety of other applications, including Internet commerce transactions. The VeriSmart server can reside at banks, utilities, phone companies or anywhere smart-card solutions are deployed. Moreover, it works with a variety of smart-card schemes.

Switching from OEM sales, SANDISK CORP.'s Yokohama subsidiary is directly marketing the ImageMate. This CompactFlash card reader allows consumers to easily and quickly download images from a digital camera to a desktop PC using removable CompactFlash memory cards. About 25 digital cameras have been introduced over the last year or so that have a built-in slot for CompactFlash film cards in capacities of 4 megabytes to 48 megabytes. ImageMate has a suggested retail price of $75.

An exchange rate of ¥135=$1.00 was used in this report.
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