Japan-US Business Report Logo

No. 355, April 1999

Back to Issue Index aaaaa back to Subscriber Area

American Companies in Japan


COMPUTERS AND PERIPHERALS

Following in its parent's footsteps, HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. will create two independent companies by June 2000. One, which will retain the HP Japan name, will include the firm's enterprise computing systems, PC, printing and imaging, and software and services businesses. The other, unnamed company will comprise HP Japan's current test and measurement, components, chemical analysis and medical businesses. Worldwide, the latter group of operations represented $7.6 billion of HEWLETT-PACKARD CO.'s total revenues of $47.1 billion in FY 1998. YOKOGAWA ELECTRIC CORP., which owns 25 percent of HP Japan, expects to have the same interest in each of the new companies.

In a rare local win for the American supercomputer industry leader, SILICON GRAPHICS, INC. has sold a high-performance computing system to the engineering department of Yokohama National University for use in its work on transforming photographs into three-dimensional graphics. The system is anchored by a 48-processor version of the scalar SGI Origin 2000 supercomputer and a Silicon Graphics Onyx2 Unix workstation and is linked by an ATM (asynchronous transfer mode) LAN (local area network) that transfers data at the rate of 622 megabits per second. .....Meanwhile, SILICON GRAPHICS, INC.'s subsidiary has set the ambitious goal of doubling its supercomputer sales to $166.7 million in 2000. To help reach this target, the company formed a division April 1 that is in charge of sales, service and support for both scalar systems (the SGI Origin 2000) and traditional vector supercomputers (Cray SV1, Cray T3E and Cray T90), the specialty of the former CRAY RESEARCH, INC., which SGI acquired in 1997.

Sales have started of a COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. server designed to work with the Value Mail corporate e-mail service offered by cellular phone giant NTT MOBILE COMMUNICATIONS NETWORK, INC. The servers, which come with NTT DoCoMo software preinstalled, are tied into the company LAN. Mobile employees can connect with the server via their cell phones to send or receive e-mail over the Internet. By adapting the server to other companies' requirements, Compaq believes that it can sell close to 10,000 units over three years. The configuration for NTT DoCoMo costs around $8,200.

The Gifu prefectural government has contracted with the subsidiary of ELECTRONIC DATA SYSTEMS CORP. to handle the information technology operations of two projects in this field that it is running. EDS also will work with officials to review the full range of the local government's IT requirements, focusing in particular on how to achieve cost reductions. Late last year, EDS launched a major push to win more IT outsourcing contracts from corporate Japan (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 351, December 1998, p. 11).

IBM JAPAN LTD. continues to find new business opportunities in the problems of Japanese financial services providers. Among the latest examples is its decision to form a company with DAI-ICHI SECURITIES CO., LTD. that will take over many of the back-office IT functions now performed by an affiliate of the midsized broker. IBM Japan will put up just 9.5 percent of the venture's capital, but it will bring to the operation its considerable information systems and services expertise. In time, the new company, which had an April 1 start date, hopes to win outsourcing contracts from other businesses trying to cut costs.

Sometimes, local financial services providers seek IBM JAPAN LTD.'s expertise to give them a better chance of capitalizing on the new business opportunities that deregulation is creating. For instance, NIPPON LIFE INSURANCE CO., Japan's top manager of corporate pension funds, got the company to participate in a joint venture that will be established July 1 to develop systems for managing corporate pensions. This move is keyed to the introduction before March 2001 of 401(k)-type or defined contribution pension plans, although NISSAY INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY CO., LTD. also has its eye on traditional defined benefit plans. Nippon Life and its affiliates will own 90 percent of the new company. The top life insurer also will transfer its information systems development operations to Nissay Information Technology. IBM Japan will have a 5 percent in the joint venture, with the remaining 5 percent split equally between HITACHI, LTD. and INTEC INC.

COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary has signed up a second Compaq Channel Configuration Program partner. SANTEC CORP. joins OTSUKA SHOKAI CO., LTD. in configuring Compaq's Deskpro line of corporate desktop PCs to buyers' specifications. The Okayama prefecture wholesaler of computer peripherals expects to build to order 6,000 Deskpros in its first year as a CCP partner. Compaq hopes that the tie-up with Santec will give a lift to Deskpro sales in western Japan.

In an initiative designed to expand sales of PC servers and workstations, the subsidiary of direct marketer DELL COMPUTER CORP. has contracted with UNIADEX LTD. to provide service and support to corporate customers. The wholly owned unit of NIHON UNISYS, LTD. promises next-business-day service for Dell's PowerEdge and PowerVault servers. At the same time, Dell plans to extend its own four-hour repair service to areas beyond Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya and to additional products.

With the incorporation of the 300-MHz MIPS R12000 64-bit RISC processor into the midrange Silicon Graphics Octane visual workstation line, SILICON GRAPHICS, INC.'s local operation is giving Unix customers up to 35 percent better performance over an Octane powered by a 250-MHz R10000 chip at no additional cost. The base price of $29,500 buys 128 MB of main memory, 2 MB of secondary cache, 4 GB of hard disk storage, a 20- inch monitor and a keyboard.

HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. is offering a discounted package to Unix supporters interested in building large (up to 500 users) intranets. It has bundled NETSCAPE COMMUNICATIONS CORP.'s SuiteSpot 3.5.1 Plus and other intranet-construction middleware with the HP 9000 Enterprise Server Model A180i for just $6,200. The company estimates that buying the hardware and the software separately would cost roughly $12,500. Given this saving, HP Japan thinks that it can sell 2,000 Model A180i systems over 12 months.

DELL COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary has taken two steps recently to boost sales of its Precision WorkStation line, which is optimized for demanding two-dimensional, 3D or data-intensive applications. It released a Precision Workstation 410 with Maya 3D software preinstalled. Maya, an ALIAS|WAVEFRONT INC. product, is designed for character animation and effects. The deal marks the first time that Dell has engaged in this type of bundling for the Japanese market. The company also is offering INTERGRAPH CORP.'s Intense 3D Wildcat 4000 graphics accelerator as an option with all Precision WorkStation models for customers specializing in computer-aided design, animation and software development. A minimally configured Precision WorkStation 410 with a 450-MHz Pentium III processor and an Intense 3D accelerator costs about $4,900.

Software developers, design engineers and other customers that require maximum processor and graphics performance also have some new hardware-based options thanks to the release of the 500-MHz and 550- MHz Pentium Xeon III processor. These engines are available in HEWLETT- PACKARD JAPAN LTD.'s HP Kayak XU PC Workstation, for instance. Pricing begins at $7,500 for a system with a 500-MHz chip, 128 MB of synchronous DRAM memory, a 9.1-GB hard disk drive and a Matrox Millennium G200 AGP video card.

A 500-MHz version of this processor also powers the value-priced Aquanta E2000 Series of enterprise-class servers from UNISYS CORP.'s subsidiary. Four models are on the market, including two-way and four- way configurations. The entry-level quad-processor tower server starts at $15,400, while a higher-end four-processor tower model goes from $25,800.

The availability of the 500-MHz Pentium III processor sparked a flood of server introductions featuring the performance-enhancing processor. The part shows up in three models of COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s ProLiant family. They start with the $4,000-and-up ProLiant 800 workgroup server for file/print, remote access, e-mail or small data base applications and include the high-end ProLiant 1600 workgroup server, which features improved data base and Web-serving capabilities at prices from $5,700, and the ProLiant 3000, described as the world's best-selling departmental server; its pricing begins at $7,500.

DELL COMPUTER CORP. also took advantage of the 500-MHz Pentium III processor and its 450-MHz mate to boost the power of its workgroup and departmental PowerEdge servers. Only about $2,300 buys the PowerEdge 1300 workgroup server for small and midsize businesses. The PowerEdge 2300, priced from $3,100, is designed to bring departmental-level availability and scalability to small businesses and remote sites in a workgroup server. Medium and large companies can harness the power of the new Pentium III chips in the PowerEdge 4300 for $4,100 and up to run file/print-sharing, e-mail and data base applications. The prices of the PowerEdge 2300 and 4300 include 2 GB of system memory versus the previously standard 1 GB.

Support for the 500-MHz Pentium III processor is available as well in various HP NetServer models from HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. They are the HP NetServer LC 3 workgroup server, which lists for as little as $7,400; the $7,700-and-up rack-mounted HP NetServer LPr; and a pair of departmental servers — the HP NetServer LH 3 (tower) and HP NetServer LH 3r (rack-mounted) — that cost $11,400-plus. These models also incorporate new reliability features, including what is claimed to be the world's first one-button disaster-recovery tape backup device.

The steady advance of microprocessor technology is bringing ever more power to the desktop. In fact, GATEWAY 2000, INC. is offering software developers and people working with 3D graphics the 500-MHz Pentium III Xeon chip in the GX-500 for a starting price of just $4,400.

The performance enhancements of the 500-MHz Pentium III also have come to the mainstream corporate computer market. The Deskpro EN and Deskpro EP families of PCs from COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary sport this processor, which is designed to handle MICROSOFT CORP.'s forthcoming Windows 2000 operating system as well as its current Windows NT technology and to provide additional processing power and improved floating-point performance for such applications as CAD/CAM (computer- aided design and manufacturing), desktop publishing, speech recognition and videoconferencing. .....The GATEWAY 2000, INC. desktop PC launch model in Japan for the 500-MHz Pentium III was the E-3200, part of the company's series of managed PCs.

Top

HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. has overhauled its line of HP Vectra business PCs, harnessing not only the power of the 500-MHz Pentium III processor in some models but also offering new, flexible form factors and an easy-access chassis. These are common features of the HP Vectra VL family, which is available as a compact design that is about half the size of a conventional desktop PC, a minitower that can expand to six slots and shelves and a model with what is called 4 x 4 expandability. The HP Vectra VLi line of managed PCs also supports the new Pentium processor and offers a choice of three different packages. Going one step further, HP Japan released the HP Vectra VEi, a Pentium III-capable series for deployment in managed environments that is value-priced from $1,600.

In its latest attempt to attract the budget-conscious buyer, whether business professional or individual, DELL COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary released a pair of desktop machines that use the latest Celeron processor, which operates at 433 MHz. The OptiPlex G1 C433 is aimed at the corporate market. It comes with 32 MB of internal memory, a 4.3-GB hard drive and a 15-inch monitor for $1,200. The same price buys the home- oriented Dimension V433c, but it features 64 MB of RAM and 6.4 GB of storage.

COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. has joined the ranks of companies marketing palm-size devices that run off the localized version of Windows CE for the Palm-size PC Version 1.2. Its Japan-only Presario 213 Color Palm-Size PC, which weighs 9.1 ounces, features 16 MB of internal memory, an active-matrix color display with a resolution of 240 x 320, 10 hours of continuous battery use and one-hand operability. The street price is estimated at less than $660.

One of the biggest names in automatic teller machines, NCR CORP., is teaming with FUJI BANK, LTD. to develop the first cash dispenser in Japan that can remit bill payments. Designed to link with companies' servers, the machine will be based on NCR JAPAN, LTD.'s existing S70 system, which uses the Windows NT operating system.

The SPARCengine CP family of single-slot CompactPCI (peripheral component interconnect) boards, used in cutting-edge communications and industrial equipment, has three new members: the highly scalable CP 1500 running at 425 MHz or 360 MHz and the highly integrated, aggressively priced CP 1400 operating at 300 MHz. The boards combine SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC.'s latest UltraSPARC-IIi 64-bit processor technology, which features integrated memory and PCI input/output functionality, with its Solaris 7 64-bit operating system. That makes the SPARCengine CP line the only 64 x 64-bit CompactPCI series on the market. Sun's subsidiary has priced the 300-MHz CP1400 at $2,500 in volume.

With electronic commerce taking hold in Japan, COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary expects to sell annually 1,000 Atara Trustmaster CSP expansion boards for PC servers. This product is claimed to be the first in the world to incorporate all the functions required for encryption into a CompactPCI board. By transferring the encryption process to the board, Compaq says, not only is a higher level of data protection provided than with software-based solutions, but a source of performance degradation is removed from the server. The Atara Trustmaster CSP board, which provides 40 bits of encryption technology, lists for $10,400.

Another firm believer in the benefits of hardware-based security protection is SONIC SYSTEMS, INC. It added to its Japan lineup two members of the SonicWALL family. These products protect Internet- connected businesses from hackers and intruders as well as prevent employees from accessing objectionable Web sites and newsgroups through content filtering. The Santa Clara, California company named FORVAL CREATIVE, INC. to market the SonicWALL/10, which supports 10 nodes on a small company's LAN. Sonic Systems also tapped MARUBENI SOLUTIONS CORP. to distribute this product as well as the new SonicWALL PRO, an Internet security appliance for branch offices and large, single- site networks. The SonicWALL/10 costs $1,200, while the SonicWALL PRO lists for $5,400. MITSUBISHI CORP. handles other Sonic Systems products (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 343, April 1998, p. 10).

QUANTUM CORP., the top maker of hard disk drives for desktop PCs, has enlisted the help of a powerful partner, MITSUI & CO., LTD. The trader will focus its marketing efforts on retailers, while the Milpitas, California company's subsidiary will continue direct sales of drives to local PC manufacturers on an OEM basis. Quantum drives are used in about 20 percent of all Japanese-built desktop machines. Mitsui, which is handling digital linear tapes and other products in addition to hard drives, sees its tie-up with Quantum developing into a $25 million business the first year and an $83.3 million activity in the third year. Paralleling an effort underway with MATSUSHITA ELECTRIC INDUSTRIAL CO., LTD., Quantum plans to work with Mitsui on the development of consumer electronics products with digital storage technology so that, for example, a TV set equipped with a hard drive can show programs on demand.

Managers of data centers in Japan soon will have an integrated hardware/software solution to help them not only cope with the challenges presented by the explosion of enterprise information but also exploit all their available processing and information resources. The EMC Connectrix Enterprise Storage Network system from the subsidiary of Hopkinton, Massachusetts-based EMC CORP. provides extremely fast access and data transfers among any combination of supported servers and EMC Enterprise systems connected to it via Fibre Channel connections. Moreover, by off-loading data transfer and information-sharing from the network, the EMC Connectrix ESN system also allows servers to do their main jobs more effectively. The actual EMC Connectrix system houses either one or two Fibre Channel directors supporting up to 64 Fibre Channel ports, a service processor, connectivity management application software and a cable management system. It supports both Windows NT and Sun Solaris platforms. The 16-port version of the modular, scalable system, the smallest configuration available, costs $416,700.

An alternative Fibre Channel-based means of efficiently managing enterprise storage requirements is available from COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary in the form of the StorageWorks RAID Array 8000 and the StorageWorks Enterprise Storage Array 12000. The RA 8000, which starts at $34,200, can scale to as much as 1.3 terabytes of capacity in a single subsystem with 18-GB StorageWorks drives and a maximum of 72 disks enclosed in three 24-disk cabinets. For its part, the ESA 12000, designed for high-capacity, high-transaction applications or for high- bandwidth applications, holds up to 48 18-GB StorageWorks drives in its data center cabinet, with each pair of controllers supporting up to 72 drives in additional cabinets. Its starting price is $58,300. Both products enable multihost support for most platforms, including Windows NT, OpenVMS and Tru64 Unix (the successor to the 64-bit Digital Unix).

STORAGE TECHNOLOGY CORP. is similarly touting the speed, capacity and access of its open-enterprise 9840 tape drive. Each cartridge holds up to 20 GB of data uncompressed and, typically, 80 GB with compression. The 9840 also moves compressed data at up to 20 MB per second and features an average search time of 8 seconds. The subsidiary of the Louisville, Colorado network storage manufacturer has priced the 9840 with Ultra SCSI (small computer system interface) connectivity at $43,300 and the ESCON version at $54,200.

A localized version of the high-capacity, external Zip drive for Universal Serial Bus-interface machines like the iMac from APPLE COMPUTER, INC. is available from IOMEGA CORP. distributors. This product offers improved data backup compared with the original English-language version as well as audio recording/playback functions. The new version of the USB Zip drive is free to buyers of the English version.

Users of the iMac and other USB-based Macintosh computers from APPLE COMPUTER, INC. also have two new printer options from HEWLETT- PACKARD JAPAN LTD. The HP DeskJet 880C, designed for the home user, prints up to 8 pages per minute in black and 5 ppm in color. The HP DeskJet 895Cxi Professional Series printer, targeted at the SOHO market, outputs as many as 10 ppm in black and 6 ppm in color. It is the fastest DeskJet printer that HEWLETT-PACKARD CO. makes.

An exchange rate of ¥120=$1.00 was used in this report.aaaaaa

Top aaaaa Back to Issue Index aaaaa back to Subscriber Areaaaaa Home