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No. 360, September 1999

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Japanese Companies in the US


Eight-way enterprise-level servers featuring the 550-MHz Pentium III Xeon processor and INTEL CORP.'s delayed Profusion chipset for Windows NT environments have been announced. The first company to do so was not a big-name American computer manufacturer but HITACHI DATA SYSTEMS CORP. Its initial vehicle was the VisionBase 8880R, which, deployed as a Web server, can handle more than 4 million hits per month and over 6,000 visitors a day. However, the wholly owned Santa Clara, California subsidiary of HITACHI, LTD. quickly topped itself. It announced the VisionBase 8890R, a Profusion-based eight-way server designed for companies engaged in electronic business. It not only provides mainframe-class reliability but also features design improvements to the memory architecture. These enhancements result in a memory access speed of 1.6 gigabytes per second, 23 percent faster than the competition's, according to Hitachi Data. That gain, the company notes, is critical to such memory-intensive applications as data mining, e-transaction processing, Java and Active X processing, and Web serving.

The 550-MHz Pentium III Xeon processor is available not just in HITACHI DATA SYSTEMS CORP.'s enterprise-class servers but throughout its VisionBase line. In addition to the VisionBase 8890R and 8880R, the family includes the four-way VisionBase 8460, the most powerful of the company's midrange servers and designed for decision-support solutions, clustering and on-line transaction processing, and the new VisionBase 8455 as well as the existing VisionBase 8450. These two models also can be configured with as many as four 550-MHz Pentium III Xeon chips to support clustering, applications development and larger data base applications. Rounding out the server family are the entry-level VisionBase 8245/8240. Able to handle one or two 550-MHz Pentium III Xeon processors, they are targeted at workgroups, small business applications, departmental, file, print and replicated network tasks.

Each and every product released by a financially struggling PACKARD BELL NEC, INC. has to score big in the sales department. The latest model subjected to this test is the NEC Computer Systems Division's PowerMate 2000 desktop system. A so-called microdesktop PC, this all-in-one machine has a footprint that is smaller than a notebook computer at 10.5 inches wide and 7.7 inches deep. Moreover, it weighs less than 12 pounds, thanks in large part to a 15-inch TFT (thin-film-transistor) LCD (liquid crystal display) with a XGA (extended graphics array) resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels. NEC CSD paired the small form factor of the PowerMate 2000 with customization and upgradability capabilities by including two CardBus PC Card (Type II) slots and two USB (universal serial bus) connections. Available built and configured to order, a PowerMate 2000 with a 433-MHz Celeron processor, 64 megabytes of system memory, a 6.4-gigabyte hard drive, a 24X CD-ROM (compact disc-read-only memory), 10/100 local area network connectivity and Windows 95 costs around $2,500.

PACKARD BELL NEC, INC.'s NEC CSD also has brought the speed enhancement of the 600-MHz Pentium III processor to its traditional PowerMate series of desktop PCs. They span two platforms. The PowerMate ES 5200, which leverages a single scalable motherboard across three chassis form factors (slim desktop, desktop and minitower) is designed for networked environments. Pricing for a PowerMate ES 5200 system with a 600-MHz Pentium III, 32 MB of random access memory, a 4.3-GB hard drive, 4 MB of video memory, 10/100 LAN and Windows 98 begins at $1,600. The other line, the PowerMate VT 300, is designed to bring mainstream performance and flexibility to value-conscious corporate customers. With the latest high-speed Pentium III engine, a PowerMate VT 300 configured the same way as the PowerMate ES 5200 except for the Ethernet/Fast Ethernet connection but including a 40X CD-ROM drive goes for approximately $1,550.

The 600-MHz Pentium III engine also is available in build-to-order Equium 7100 corporate desktop PCs from the Computer Systems Division of TOSHIBA AMERICA INFORMATION SYSTEMS, INC. This option brings to 11 the number of processors supported by the Equium 7100 series — a record for a single platform, the Irvine, California company claims. At the same time, TAIS added 17-GB and 20-GB hard drives as configuration choices for business customers with huge storage requirements.

For as little as $1,000-plus, smaller enterprises now can buy a server solution for their file, print, PC LAN and Internet requirements. That is the starting price of TOSHIBA AMERICA INFORMATION SYSTEMS, INC. CSD's M500, the company's first entry- level server. The new system supports either the 400-MHz Pentium II processor or the 450-MHz Pentium III chip. The M500 also gives companies room to grow since it includes six input/output expansion slots and four memory expansion slots that can handle up to 1 GB of advanced ECC (error checking and correcting) dynamic RAM internal memory. Likewise, internal storage capacity can be as large as 36 GB on the M500's base model and a whopping 72 GB with the standard model.

Mobile professionals that need a rugged yet powerful machine have a new option in PANASONIC PERSONAL COMPUTER CO.'s Toughbook 37. Like it predecessors, the system has a magnesium-alloy chassis, a magnesium-encased screen and a shock- mounted hard drive. However, the Toughbook weighs just 4.3 pounds and is only an inch high. The standard configuration includes a 366-MHz mobile Celeron processor, a 12.1-inch, antireflective touch-screen TFT LCD display with a resolution of 800 x 600 pixels, 64 MB of system memory and a 6.4-GB hard drive for an estimated $2,700. That price also covers a drive bay that can accept the included 24X CD-ROM drive or a DVD-ROM (digital video disc-ROM) drive, a floppy disk or a second battery.

HITACHI DATA SYSTEMS CORP. tweaked the Freedom Storage 5800, which it says already is the world's fastest midrange storage subsystem, to make it even speedier and more robust. On the performance front, the addition of TurboLUN functionality enables customers to increase their transaction-processing capability by as much as 100 percent. Moreover, nearly 40 percent faster read/write times can be achieved through the installation of 18-GB disk drives that spin at 10,000 revolutions per second. The current capacity of the 5800 also can be doubled with the use of new 36-GB disk drives, which provide more than 2 terabytes of usable storage in a single rack. In another advance, the system can realize the potential of SANs (storage area networks) now or in the future, thanks to its Fabric Login capability. Pricing of the Freedom Storage 5800, which is designed for open systems environments running data warehousing, data mining or e-business applications, starts at $45,000.

Manufacturers of portable computers or compact systems requiring small, lightweight 2.5-inch drives have new choices from HITACHI AMERICA, LTD. The DK23AA family, which features enhanced giant magnetoresistive heads and signal processing technology, spans three 9.5-millimeter-height drives with capacities of 6 GB, 9 GB and 12 GB and a 12-mm-height, 18.1-GB drive, a record storage capacity for this class of products. The DK22AA line also is the first to support an ariel recording density of 10.79 gigabits per square inch. Production shipments of the four drives are scheduled for the fourth quarter.

Also in the October-December time frame, SONY ELECTRONICS, INC. will release higher-capacity Memory Stick media. Designed to link and transfer information between a variety of audio, video and computer products, this flash media will be available in capacities of 32 MB and 64 MB at prices of $110 and $190, respectively. The 64-MB Memory Stick media has more than 40 times the capacity of a standard 3.5-inch floppy. Capacities of 4 MB, 8 MB and 16 MB now are on the market.

If nothing else, the fact that SEIKO EPSON CORP.'s Long Beach, California marketing subsidiary introduces new printer products virtually every month is a sign of a company bound and determined to gain share across the printer market. The latest monthly count is two-plus. That includes the EPSON Stylus Color 660, a four-color ink- jet printer for the home market that costs only $130 or so after rebate yet provides a resolution of 1440 x 720 dots per inch and a print performance of five pages per minute for black text and 3.5 ppm in color. New, too, is the $430 EPSON Stylus Color 900G for Macintosh users. It is the industry's first color ink-jet printer to support the Firewire (IEEE 1394) high-speed peripheral interface. Housed in a translucent case with a blueberry cover, the machine prints 12 ppm of black text and 10 ppm in color with a 1440 x 720-dpi resolution. The "plus" is the availability of the EPSON Stylus Pro 5000 for graphics arts and printing professionals in two configurations: with or without an external EPSON RS-5000 Fiery LX RIP (raster image processing) capability. Moreover, the price on the fully configured system has been dropped by $1,500 to an estimated $7,500, while the new standard configuration goes for roughly $3,000.

Replacement cartridges for the EPSON Stylus 440, 640 and 740 ink-jet printers are available from HITACHI KOKI IMAGING SOLUTIONS, INC. under the Dataproducts brand. The Simi Valley, California production unit of HITACHI KOKI CO., LTD. says that each of the products costs approximately 20 percent less than the average street price of the manufacturer-supplied cartridge that it replaces.

Touting it as providing the industry's lowest total cost of ownership, KYOCERA ELECTRONICS, INC. introduced the FS-9000 network laser printer for corporate or departmental settings. Among the other features highlighted by the Duluth, Georgia company are multiple paper handling options, a fast print speed (36 ppm with a resolution from 600 x 600 dpi up to 2400 x 600 dpi) and technology that allows for easier installation of network interface cards and other devices.

The Phoenix, Arizona manufacturing and marketing subsidiary of MUTOH INDUSTRIES LTD. released a pair of large format color ink-jet printers for North American original equipment distribution. One is a 38-inch, four-color model capable of printing up to 160 square feet per hour with a resolution as high as 1440 x 1440 dpi. It offers high-speed monochrome printing for film-setting applications as well as color printing that produces photo-quality poster-size images. The other machine is a 43- inch, six-color printer capable of turning out full-color images at a rate of 80 square feet per hour with the same resolution as its mate. Mutoh already has signed two OEM distribution contracts for these products.

SEIKO EPSON CORP.'s marketing unit also has four more scanners on the market. Its latest entry-level consumer product is the EPSON Perfection 610, which offers a hardware resolution of 600 x 2400 dpi for just $150. This model is designed for computers that have a USB interface, including those running Windows 98 as well as the iBook and the Power Macintosh G3. For business or graphics use, the manufacturer released three EPSON Perfection 1200 series models offering high- performance, one-button scanning with a hardware resolution of 1200 x 2400 dpi, double the scanning power of conventional 600-dpi products. The EPSON Perfection 1200U features plug-and-play USB installation for iMacs, USB-ready Power Macintosh G3s and Windows 98 systems. The EPSON Perfection 1200S offers higher speeds with its fast SCSI (small computer system interface) connection to Windows, Power Macintosh and G3 systems. Finally, the EPSON Perfection 1200U PHOTO comes with a transparency unit for out-of-the-box flatbed and film scanning with USB- equipped systems. Pricing for the trio is $250, $300 and $350, respectively.

VICTOR CO. OF JAPAN, LTD. is reorganizing its North American projector business in the hope of pulling it out of the red. This fall, it will establish the JVC Digital IMAGE Technology Center in Carlsbad, California, which is home to HUGHES-JVC TECHNOLOGY CORP. The center will be responsible for the development of new technologies for JVC's worldwide digital image products. Expected to begin with a staff of 50, it will absorb the ILA projector technology and services functions of Hughes- JVC. That company was formed in 1992 with HUGHES AIRCRAFT CO. (60 percent) to make high-definition liquid crystal projectors, but JVC bought out its partner in two steps. At the same time, JVC will consolidate North American projector sales, now split between JVC AMERICAS CORP. and Hughes-JVC, in its northern New Jersey subsidiary.

An exchange rate of ¥113=$1.00 was used in this report.aaaaaa

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