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

No. 346, July 1998

Issue Index

American Companies in Japan


COMPUTERS AND PERIPHERALS

In a deal worth $15 million, EVANS & SUTHERLAND COMPUTER CORP. worked with HONDA MOTOR CO., LTD. on the design and construction of image generators for motorcycle training simulators and built and delivered visual systems for 300 simulators. RIKEI CORP. is the Salt Lake City, Utah maker's distributor. The systems are based on Evans & Sutherland's Liberty image generation technology. They are integrated with a motion system, a sound-generation system, a host computer and an instructor station.

By yearend, the subsidiaries of COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. and DIGITAL EQUIPMENT CORP. will follow their parents down the merger path. The combined company, which will retain the Compaq name, will be a one-stop source of hardware from the most powerful servers to home PCs as well as computer systems management and maintenance. Between them, the two local operations have annual sales of $1.7 billion and employ 3,600 people.

Regional and other smaller banks that cannot afford to have redundant computer systems now have an option for maintaining banking operations should a natural disaster or other mishap knock out their equipment. UNISYS CORP.'s subsidiary opened a computer center in Tokyo that client banks can use in an emergency. They simply need to install their programs on the backup center's computers to continue deposits, withdrawals, loans and other services. Unisys already has contracts with two banks.

Experimenting with different ways to inject life into sales of Aptiva home computers and ThinkPad notebook systems in Japan's slumping PC market while still making some money, IBM JAPAN LTD. has launched a service with big appliance retailer KOJIMA CO., LTD. that delivers machines to customers directly from IBM Japan factories. Kojima sales personnel place orders for buyers via IBM Japan's direct-order system for home delivery in about two days. Customers are charged Kojima's store prices, which are 20 percent to 30 percent less than if they ordered the computers directly from the manufacturer. For the retailer, the deal means that it can offer the full range of IBM Japan models without maintaining inventory. At the same time, the computer maker does not have to worry about getting stuck with unsold stock. IBM Japan also has initiated direct-sales arrangements for home PCs with several other retailers, including BEST DENKI CO., LTD. and DEODEO CORP.

In a related move, IBM JAPAN LTD. plans to end marketing of home PCs through its main distributor, CANON SALES CO., INC. However, that company will continue to handle sales to corporate customers (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 345, June 1998, p. 10). Early this year, Canon Sales forged a marketing relationship with COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. on a new line of Presario PCs for the home (see Japan- U.S. Business Report No. 341, February 1998, p. 12).

People in the Nagoya area interested in buying a PC from GATEWAY 2000, INC. have a new option. The mail-order company's subsidiary opened a store in the city where buyers can order customized systems after testing out display models. Gateway also has stores in Tokyo and Osaka.

Redefining the high end of the computer market, SILICON GRAPHICS, INC. released worldwide the Cray SVI series of vector supercomputers. The new CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) machines run off processors with a theoretical peak performance of 4 gigaflops (4 billion calculations per second), twice as quick as SGI's fastest processors today. These can be mixed with 1-gigaflop processors to handle varied problems and workloads. For even greater efficiency, each 4-gigaflop processor can be run as four 1-gigaflop processors. The Cray SV1 also offers a single-cabinet node with a peak performance up to 32 gigaflops in a symmetric multiprocessing architecture. In addition, the vector supercomputer comes with a suite of clustering tools that tightly couple nodes using message-passing programming models to produce systems with up to 1 teraflop (trillion calculations per second) of peak performance and 1 terabyte of memory. In Japan, the basic configuration of the Cray SV1 will lease for $14,300 a month. With the big boost in price/performance, SGI's subsidiary expects new customers for the Cray SV1 as well as businesses upgrading from Cray J90, Cray C90 and Cray Y-MP systems.

The redesign of STRATUS COMPUTER, INC.'s Continuum Series of high- performance computers has been completed. Like the entry-level 400 models introduced at the end of 1997 (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 340, January 1998, p. 11), the four midrange 600 models and the four high-end 1200 models combine reduced instruction-set computing-based SMP technology via HEWLETT- PACKARD CO.'s 64-bit PA-RISC 8000 processors with the Marlboro, Massachusetts company's continuously available architecture. All three lines also run the HP-UX 10.20 operating system. Continuum Series 600 and 1200 buyers have a choice of three processor speeds and configurations with up to four processors. The 600 models, designed for fault-tolerant computing in distributed and departmental environments, start at $489,300, while the 1200 machines, targeted at on-line transaction processing applications, are priced from $885,700.

COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary is pitching the Tandem Integrity XC platform for telecommunications applications as delivering greater availability than other high-availability systems at a lower price. Packaged as two-node to six-node Pentium Pro systems, the Integrity XC consists of Compaq ProLiant servers, SANTA CRUZ OPERATION, INC.'s SCO UnixWare 2.1.2 and Tandem NonStop Clusters software. NonStop Clusters for SCO UnixWare is a highly scalable, clustered operating environment that enables a group of Unix-based ProLiant servers to operate as a single, reliable computing source. Pricing of the Integrity XC begins at $59,000.

Affordable performance. That concept is at the heart of the Windows NT Workstation 4.0-based Compaq Professional Workstation AP400 from COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s local operation. The first product in what will be a line of AP workstations, the AP400 combines one or two 350-MHz or 400-MHz Pentium II processors with high- performance two-dimensional or three-dimensional graphics for CAD, architectural engineering and construction, financial trading and digital content creation applications in a slim desktop design. The 2D model, the AP400 640/2D+, costs $5,300 and up. The AP400 640/3D+ is priced from $8,200.

A total of 12 models have been added to the HP Kayak PC Workstation family from HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. The line's high end is now defined by XW products. These dual processor-capable machines featuring the 400-MHz version of the Pentium II Xeon processor are claimed to deliver the fastest 3D graphics in a Windows NT Workstation 4.0 operating environment, thanks to HP VISUALIZE fx6 graphics technology. The base configuration of the HP Kayak XW PC Workstation is priced at $10,900. For 2D and entry-level 3D graphics applications, HP Japan is offering the HP Kayak XU PC Workstation. These models also are built around one or two 400-MHz Pentium II Xeon processors, but they incorporate a new HEWLETT- PACKARD CO.-designed motherboard for greater power. XU pricing begins at $6,100. At a starting price of $3,400, HP Japan is marketing the HP Kayak XA-s PC Workstation for high-end office applications, financial modeling, software development, 2D electronic and mechanical design and digital content creation. Running off various Pentium II chips, these desktop and minitower machines also have dual-processor capability.

Many firsts are being claimed for the latest midrange addition to the HP NetServer line of PC servers. The HP NetServer LH 3 system is said to be the first to combine 350- MHz and 400-MHz Pentium II processors, redundant component design, an integrated disk-array controller and new, high-performance Ultra2 disk drives. It also is the first HP NetServer to come with HP OpenView ManageX/SE. HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. has priced the LH 3 from $7,400. In late August, it will ship the HP NetServer LC 3. It, too, runs off the latest Pentium IIs but does not have all the high- end features of the LH 3. Accordingly, the LC 3 costs $4,700 and up.

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The midrange PC server market also is the target of the four-member Aquanta DS/2 line from UNISYS CORP.'s subsidiary. Configurable with one or two 233-MHz or 333- MHz Pentium II processors, the new machines come standard with an on-board Ultra Wide SCSI (small computer system interface) controller, an on-board video controller and six hot-swap drive bays. Eight expansion slots and a 256-bit data bus are provided for growth requirements. Aquanta DS/2 pricing begins at $10,600.

With PC sales in Japan down again in the second quarter of 1998, American competitors have grown even more cautious about introducing new products. Value pricing of machines with the "right" features is the common strategy of companies braving the market. For instance, HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. is selling for $3,300 and up three models in the HP Vectra VL Series 8 family. These machines pair either a 350-MHz or a 400-MHz Pentium II processor with the Windows NT Workstation 4.0 operating system.

More frequently, though, American PC manufacturers are pushing systems powered by the low-cost Celeron processor. Examples include three models in the HP Vectra VE line. HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. lists these 266-MHz or 300-MHz products from $1,400. For $1,600, COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary is marketing a 266-MHz Celeron Deskpro EP model, although another member of this line runs off a 333-MHz Pentium II. .....DELL COMPUTER CORP., however, is the first competitor to bring sub-$1,000 pricing to the Wintel market in Japan. Its OptiPlex G1 and OptiPlex E1, both of which use a 266-MHz version of the Celeron processor, are priced right at or just under the $1,000 threshold.

U.S. manufacturers also generally are tweaking their notebook product lines rather than introducing whole new series. For instance, DELL COMPUTER CORP.'s unit added to its Inspiron 3200 family a machine running off a 233-MHz Pentium II processor with MMX technology. Priced from $2,700, the Inspiron D233XT features a 13.3-inch active-matrix TFT (thin-film-transistor) display and a DVD-ROM drive.

One exception is GATEWAY 2000, INC., which released the four-model Solo 2500 line. Like the company's other notebooks, buyers can customize the machines to their requirements and budgets, including choosing the speed of the Pentium II processor with MMX technology, the size of the internal memory and the hard disk's capacity. An equally big selling point, though, is the Solo 2500's long battery life — up to four-and- a-half hours. Pricing begin around $1,900.

The lineup of Presario home computers sold in Japan has undergone a significant expansion. The eight new models from COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary include a second machine aimed at what in the United States is called the sub-$1,000 market. Powered by a low-cost K6 processor from ADVANCED MICRO DEVICES, INC., the Presario 2254 is targeted at people who want a computer mainly to access the Internet. Capping off the new products is the Presario 5130, which uses a Pentium II processor and comes with a second-generation DVD-ROM drive. Pricing is open on all the new models.

Convinced that the market for handheld computers running the Windows CE operating system will take off this year, COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s local operation has released two products. The C Series 2010c, which has a color display and comes standard with a 20-megabyte memory, costs about $860. For roughly $660, a buyer can get the C Series 810 with a monochrome display and 8 megabytes of memory. That model weighs less than a pound, while the color version is slightly heavier.

A localized version of COBALT MICROSERVER, INC.'s compact (7 x 7 x 8 inches), affordable ($2,800) Cobalt Qube 2700 microserver for Internet and network application developers is available through NISSHO ELECTRONICS CORP. The Mountain View, California start-up's product includes the Linux operating system, the Apache Web server and all the other software that Internet service providers and developers need to design and deliver network applications, Web sites and communications. Once installed, the Cobalt Qube 2700J can handle over the course of a day 250,000 Web pages, 140,000 electronic mail messages and 50,000 transfers of 200-kilobyte files. That capability, Cobalt Microserver says, is more than enough to satisfy the requirements of 100 active users.

Hopkinton, Massachusetts-based EMC CORP., a leader in the field of enterprise storage systems, believes that it has found the way to virtually guarantee nonstop file access over departmental and enterprise networks. Its solution is the Celerra File Server, which works through optimized file access and transfer routines. Each Celerra File Server consists of a Symmetrix enterprise cached disk storage system for Unix, Windows NT, AS/400 and mainframe environments; data movers, which provide data channels between Symmetrix and the network; a real-time, embedded operating system optimized for high-performance network file access; and a control station.

Enterprise storage system competitor INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORP. simultaneously released in the United States and Japan the IBM Versatile Storage Server. This centralized, shared disk storage system allows big companies to centrally manage storage across mixed-server environments. It supports multiple Unix, Windows NT and AS/400 servers from all the leading computer makers and allows true data-sharing among "like" servers. The company also claims for the IBM Versatile Storage Server one of the highest levels of data integrity and availability. IBM JAPAN LTD. has priced the product at $356,200.

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At $8,000 and up, DIGITAL EQUIPMENT CORP.'s subsidiary is providing an affordable solution to the storage requirements of midsized networks. The DIGITAL StorageWorks RAID Array 3000 is a fully integrated UltraSCSI RAID (redundant arrays of independent disks) subsystem for use with Windows NT, Open VMS and popular Unix operating systems. The compact pedestal enclosure has room for seven disks. With DEC's new 9.1-gigabyte Ultra Wide SCSI drives, the RA 3000 provides 63 GB of capacity. Use of an expansion pedestal raises that total to 127 GB.

Visual computing applications that demand high bandwidth but not the data redundancy of RAID are the target market for the latest addition to CIPRICO INC.'s line of Fibre Channel products. The FibreSTORE disk array, to be available through distributors in August, handles any combination of four to nine disk drives in a single enclosure. The Minneapolis manufacturer initially is offering a choice of 9.1 GB or 18.2 GB drives with FibreSTORE for up to 162 GB of on-line storage in each cabinet. Platform-specific packages are available for machines from SILICON GRAPHICS, INC. and SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC. as well as Windows NT environments. For Windows NT imaging applications that do require RAID protection, Ciprico has RaidiaNT. Based on the company's 7000 Series of Fibre Channel RAID disk arrays, the package includes everything needed to take advantage of the performance of full-speed Fibre Channel technology, including a PCI (peripheral component interface)-to-Fibre Channel adapter and a graphical user interface utility. To backstop sales of these and other Fibre Channel products, Ciprico will open a subsidiary in August.

The world leader in digital linear tape libraries, EXABYTE CORP. of Boulder, Colorado, has released in Japan the first member of a new family. The Exabyte 230D Automated DLT Tape Library accommodates one or two QUANTUM CORP. DLT 4000 or DLT 7000 tape drives and 30 Exatape data cartridges. With the former drive, the product can store 1.2 terabytes of compressed data with a data transfer rate of 6 megabytes per second. With the latter, compressed capacity goes up to 2.1 terabytes, and the data transfer speeds zooms to 20 MB per second. Either drive makes the Exabyte 230D suitable for unattended backup/restore, remote storage and automated archiving of client/server networks and departmental applications servers.

QUANTUM CORP.'s subsidiary has introduced a competing product. The PowerStor L500, which can incorporate up to three DLT tape drives, can be configured with either the DLT 7000 or the DLT 4000 tape system. With a DLT 7000, nearly 1 terabyte of compressed data can be stored in the space of 1.3 cubic feet; data transfers at up to 30 MB per second. With a DLT 4000, 560 GB of compressed data storage are provided. Both versions of the PowerStor L500 come with 14 cartridges in two magazines. Milpitas, California-based Quantum released at the same time the PowerStor L200 autoloader. It, too, is offered with either a DLT 4000 or a DLT 7000 drive. Eight cartridge slots are available: six in a removable magazine, plus two fixed ones. Both products are designed to back up and archive enterprise data stored on Unix and Windows NT servers.

An internal DLT drive for backing up high-end servers also is on the market from HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. The HP SureStore DLT 40i, which costs around $2,500, offers 40 GB of compressed capacity on a single tape. Companies that want to automate network backup can take advantage of the $4,800 HP SureStore DAT24x6i autoloader. This product provides random access to five 410-foot DDS-3 data cartridges in a compact, removable magazine. Each cartridge can store 24 GB of compressed data with a transfer rate of 2 MB per second.

The new Able family of high-volume multifunctional copiers from FUJI XEROX CO., LTD. incorporates the Medalist disk drive from SEAGATE TECHNOLOGY, INC. The 2- gigabyte drive provides the capacity to digitally store the images being photocopied, faxed, printed or scanned. That allows users to establish job caching, utilize Fuji Xerox's Super XBIT technology for photorealistic output or otherwise maximize system productivity.

LOGITECH, INC.'s subsidiary has released a number of new wheel mice for PCs. All of the Fremont, California company's products include a wheel for scrolling through a document. Among the products is the $39 Wheel Mouse for Notebooks, which powers down when not in use to help mobile users save battery life. Also new is the $89 Cordless Wheel Mouse. It uses radio frequency to communicate with the PC. All the new mice support the various versions of the Windows operating system.

The StarFighter family of graphics accelerator boards from REAL 3D, INC. will be distributed by NISSHO ELECTRONICS CORP. Based on INTEL CORP.'s new 740 chip, StarFighter is available as both a PCI board and an AGP (accelerated graphics port) board. Nissho Electronics expects the highly rated graphics boards to generate sales of $7.1 million. Orlando, Florida-based Real 3D is owned by LOCKHEED MARTIN CORP. (80 percent) and Intel. It has an agreement with SEGA ENTERPRISES, LTD. to develop arcade graphics chips and boards. The company also works on 3D technology with Intel.

Three-dimensional graphics users who require high-performance geometry processing for high-polygon-count mechanical CAD or animation models are the target customers for ACCELGRAPHICS, INC.'s latest graphics subsystem. The AccelGMX 2000 accelerator comes with an unusual 96 MB of memory. Distributor MEMOREX TELEX CO., LTD. has priced the subsystem at $3,600. It believes that 1,000 units can be sold in the first year to companies using such CAD applications as Pro/ENGINEER, EDS/Unigraphics and SDRC I-DEAS or animation programs like Softimage, LightWave 3D and 3D Studio MAX.

Digitalsite, a new computer graphics studio opened by SUMITOMO CORP., SUMITOMO ELECTRONICS CO., LTD. and a third owner, has installed a frost virtual studio supplied by DISCREET LOGIC INC. as well as the Reading, Massachusetts company's visual effects solution. frost runs on two SILICON GRAPHICS, INC. Onyx2 graphics workstations. Digitalsite, which serves production companies that need virtual technology to produce commercials, broadcast programming and corporate videos, is the first Japanese organization to buy a virtual studio from Discreet Logic.

The latest automated data collection system from NATIONAL COMPUTER SYSTEMS, INC. is touted as providing unparalleled data collection efficiency in such critical applications as admissions, testing, payroll, order entry and surveys. The NCS 5000i Image System also allows intermixing of various data entry methodologies. The Edina, Minnesota manufacturer's longtime distributor, MITSUBISHI OFFICE MACHINERY CORP., has priced the system from $200,000. It is forecasting annual sales of 30 units.

An exchange rate of ¥140=$1.00 was used in this report.
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