In what they say is a win-win deal for themselves and for major Japanese corporations, COMPUTER SCIENCES CORP. and HITACHI, LTD. have formed an alliance to offer current and future customers of the diversified electronics company cutting-edge information technology systems and services in Japan. The goal of the new partners is to help Japanese businesses compete more effectively internationally by globalizing their IT systems. They expect to work most closely with the big financial services providers that result from the wave of mergers announced in recent months. Hitachi executives said that the firm, which has considerable systems integration expertise and has invested heavily in the development of state-of-the-art hardware and software technologies, decided to collaborate with El Segundo, California-based CSC, the number-three computer services company in the United States, in order to provide its customers more advanced IT services faster. CSC already operates in Japan. Its main clients reportedly are Japanese insurers.
Like other American computer companies, APPLE COMPUTER, INC. has been experimenting with different marketing approaches. Its latest initiative is the Apple Store in Store concept. In cooperation with 11 electronics volume retailers, the recently high-flying Apple will foot the cost of opening areas in 34 of their stores that will carry an array of Apple computers, peripherals and software. Among the merchandisers participating in the Apple Store in Store plan are DEODEO CORP. and SOFMAP CO., LTD.
Buttressing its retail channel strategy and DirectPlus on-line and telephone sales network (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 359, August 1999, pp. 14-15), COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary began a commission-based sales agent system. Under the DirectPlus Agent program, the company hopes to line up roughly 100 agents from the ranks of systems integrators, software vendors and other IT businesses to represent Compaq products. The big computer maker handles marketing and order fulfillment directly.
GATEWAY, INC.'s sales operation hopes to tap into the expanding SOHO (small office/home office) market by offering hardware leases tailored to the requirements of these businesses. In cooperation with equipment leasing and rental affiliates of BANK OF TOKYO-MITSUBISHI, LTD., the company has streamlined the application and approval processes to make leasing more attractive to this customer base. Gateway expects approximately 80 percent of the contracts to be valued at less than $47,600.
A new generation of the Compaq AlphaServer SC Series Supercomputer will ship to scientific, industrial and commercial users in Japan in the first quarter of 2000. COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. claims for the line, which is built around the latest iteration of the powerful Alpha 21264 64-bit RISC (reduced instruction-set computing) chip, an unprecedented combination of power, scalability and affordability. A system configured with 16 processors, 16 symmetric multiprocessing nodes and 16 MB of internal memory will lease for $65,700 a month. The AlphaServer SC Series Supercomputer runs Compaq's Tru64 Unix operating system and comes with its cluster file system software.
Before then, COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary will ship the entry-level Compaq AlphaServer DS20E. The space-saving single- or dual-processor system, targeted at such customers as Internet services providers and communications companies, initially will sport a 500-MHz Alpha 21264 chip, but the 667-MHz version of this engine will be available in early 2000. Compaq claims that the AlphaServer DS20E outperforms anything in its class, thanks to the marriage of the latest in high-bandwidth memory know- how and the Alpha processor, 64-bit very large memory and advanced clustering technology. It also notes that despite a starting price of just $21,400, the system offers features typically found on larger systems, including hot-swap drives, fans and power supplies and remote system management. The AlphaServer DS20E supports the Tru64 Unix, Compaq OpenVMS and Linux operating systems.
The "carrier-grade" computer systems required by communications services providers, ISPs and network equipment providers are one recent market focus of SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC. Its Netra t servers are the vehicles for bridging the communications and computing worlds. In Japan, Sun is marketing the Netra t 1400. On the computing side, the system supports up to four UltraSPARC-II processors and delivers high-speed memory, PCI (peripheral component interconnect) connectivity, Ultra SCSI disk and high-speed interconnects. At the same time, the Netra t 1400 fits into standard 19- inch communications racks. It also provides communications alarms, lights-out management capabilities and optional AC/DC power supplies. Pricing begins at $36,600.
SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC.'s subsidiary also is fortifying its position in the market for Unix workgroup servers with the release of the small-footprint Sun Enterprise 220R and 420R. Both products deliver multiprocessing power, Ultra SCSI disks and PCI connectivity in a highly modular, four-rack-unit design. The Sun Enterprise 220R, which lists for $25,200 and up, supports one or two 450-MHz UltraSPARC-II processors and provides 2 GB of memory, while the $30,500-plus Sun Enterprise 420R can handle up to four 450-MHz Ultra SPARC-II chips and comes standard with 4 GB of memory.
The line of Unix workstations from SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC. has a new high end, one able to handle the most demanding graphics applications. The Ultra 80 also is the company's only such product available in uniprocessor, dual-processor and quad- processor configurations. Among other touted features is the highest memory bandwidth of any Sun workstation hardware. The Ultra 80 ranges in price from $3,800 for a system with a single 450-MHz UltraSPARC-II chip to $64,800 for a workstation that harnesses the power of four of these processors.
Seeing opportunities in the growth of Windows NT-based digital video production, which includes companies creating content for commercials, TV programs, live broadcasts, interactive multimedia and the Web, INTERGRAPH CORP.'s subsidiary released a fully integrated turnkey desktop video system. At the heart of the video editing and finishing system is the Huntsville, Alabama company's TDZ 2000 GT1 ViZual Workstation, which taps the power of a pair of 550-MHz Pentium III processors and provides the throughput for high-bandwidth video applications as well as the memory needed for both off-line and on-line work. To this platform, Intergraph added edit* plus 5.0 nonlinear editing software from AUTODESK, INC.'s Discreet affiliate and MATROX ELECTRONIC SYSTEMS, LTD.'s DigiSuite real-time video hardware and software tools. For an introductory period, Intergraph priced its system at $37,900, or about 30 percent less than the cost of competing turnkey video systems.
The SP750 Professional Workstation is better able than ever to handle jobs like simulation, design and analysis, and modeling and virtual prototyping that previously were assigned to Unix workstations, COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. argues. This minitower system now can draw on the power of dual 733-MHz Pentium III Xeon processors. At the same time, potential bandwidth constraints are addressed through the Intel 840 chipset with its 133- MHz front-side bus, dual memory channels, dual-peer PCI buses and 64-bit PCI connectivity. The SP750 also provides power graphics users with anywhere from 128 MB to 2 GB of extremely fast ECC DRAM memory and a choice of a high-performance 9.1- GB or 18.2-GB Ultra3 SCSI hard drive operating at 10,000 RPM. Included as well in the base price of $8,900 is any one of a long list of graphics controllers. .....For companies that do not require all the firepower of the SP750, COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary has new versions of the AP240 Deskpro Workstation. These machines use a single 600EB-MHz, 700-MHz or 733-MHz Pentium III processor with a 133-MHz front- side bus. They also feature the new Intel i820 chipset to maximize the high-speed system memory, which is expandable from 128 MB to 512 MB. Storage on the AP240 now takes the form of a 9-GB Wide Ultra2 SCSI hard drive with 10,000-RPM capability. The graphics controller is either the Matrox Millennium G400 or the ELSA Synergy II. With AP standing for affordable performance, Compaq priced the base configurations from under $3,500 (the 600EB-MHz model) to $4,400 for a system employing a 733-MHz chip.
COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP.'s latest data center-targeted product is the ProLiant 6400R server. The rack-mountable system is designed to address the space constraints of these environments while giving customers the computing power and performance they need to run demanding business applications, implement clustering solutions or host active intranet, Internet and e-commerce sites. The ProLiant 6400R can support up to four Pentium III Xeon processors and provides as much as 2 GB of memory and 72.8 GB of internal storage. Pricing begins at $14,800.
New as well to the Japanese market from COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. is what the company calls the easiest and most affordable clustering solution. Suited for such needs as remote systems requiring unattended high availability or branch office industry applications, the ProLiant CL1850 consists of two Compaq server nodes and shared storage prepackaged in a space-efficient cabinet. Each of the servers can support one or two 550- MHz Pentium III processors. As much as 16 GB of system-enhancing memory per server is available, as is a maximum of 252 GB of high-perform-ance storage. The basic configuration of the ProLiant CL1850 costs $21,000.
The era of the 700-MHz Pentium III processor has arrived in the PC server market and, once again, DELL COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary was ahead of its rivals in introducing the latest in processor technology. Its vehicle was the PowerEdge 4300 server for networked midsize and large businesses. Able to support two of the fast Pentium IIIs, the PowerEdge 4300 features redundant, hot pluggable components to provide uninterrupted operations. High availability is ensured as well by anywhere from 128 MB to 2 GB of ECC SDRAM memory and support for RAID (redundant array of independent disks) controllers. The PowerEdge 4300 also provides ample storage through 9-GB, 18-GB and 36-GB Ultra2/LVD SCSI hard drives spinning at 7,200 RPM or 10,000 RPM. Dell's marketing unit priced the base configuration of the new PowerEdge 4300 at $4,800.
DELL COMPUTER CORP. also beefed up the power and the system bandwidth of its OptiPlex GX110 line of networked desktop machines for midsize and bigger companies by reengineering them to support Pentium III processors with 133-MHz front-side buses running at 533 MHz, 600 MHz, 667 MHz or 733 MHz. The aggressively priced family starts at $1,400 for a PC with a 533-MHz Pentium III or at $2,300 for one with a 733-MHz part. Those lists include 64 MB of SDRAM memory, expandable to 512 MB, plus a 6.4- GB hard drive. Other storage options are 13.6-GB or 15-GB 5,400-RPM drives or 10-GB or 20-GB 7,200-RPM drives.
The IBM PC 300PL, IBM JAPAN LTD.'s desktop series for the mainstream corporate market, is the first PC to feature a built-in security chip. That extra appears on the model 6565. It is powered by a 667-MHz Pentium III processor with a 133-MHz front-side bus and comes with 64 MB of ECC SDRAM memory and a 13.5-GB hard drive. The only option on the well-equipped model 6565 is the operating system. One running Windows 98 Second Edition costs $3,300, while the Windows NT 4.0-based version lists for $3,500.
Slim and trim all-in-one desktop designs are a major PC market trend in Japan, where space-constrained offices and homes are the norm. Catering to this demand, GATEWAY, INC.'s marketing unit released the second-generation Profile 2. Both of the line's models, which have no desktop or tower case, have a tiltable 15.1-inch XGA active-matrix TFT color display, 64 MB of system memory, Intel three-dimensional graphics and four USB ports for peripherals. Other specifications differ, though. The $1,900 LE model uses a 433-MHz Celeron processor and has a 6.8-GB hard drive and a 24X CD-ROM drive. About $2,400 buys the XL model with its 500-MHz Celeron chip, 20-GB hard drive and 6X DVD-ROM drive.
The jump in memory prices last fall forced DELL COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary to abandon the under ¥100,000 PC market. However, lower prices for Celeron processors enabled the company to get its Japan-only Dimension J400C back under this price point. Aimed at price-sensitive SOHO buyers, this system uses a 400-MHz Celeron processor and provides 64 MB of SDRAM and 4.3 GB of storage. Without a monitor, it lists for $825. Adding a 15-inch CRT display as well as a sound card and a modem raises the price to $950.
In an otherwise off month for the release of new notebook computers, DELL COMPUTER CORP.'s local operation added three models to its business-use Latitude line, all of which include both a touch pad and a track stick for greater convenience. The Latitude CPxH500GT, targeted at true road warriors, features a 500-MHz mobile Pentium III processor and a 14.1-inch active-matrix TFT color display. It starts at $3,000-plus. The base configuration of the Latitude CPtV400ST with its 400-MHz Celeron processor and 12.1-inch active-matrix TFT color screen goes for about $1,000 less.
Japan historically has been a tough place for outside suppliers of handheld computers because of the entrenched position of SHARP CORP.'s Zaurus in the market for personal digital assistants or personal organizers. That has not dissuaded HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. from introducing several of its parent's Jornada products. The latest machine, however, is more like a mininotebook than a PDA. The Windows CE-operating HP Jornada 690 not only uses a 133-MHz version of the 32-bit Hitachi SH3 processor and provides 32 MB of SDRAM memory, but it also has a 6.5-inch color display with touch- screen capabilities and a three-fourths-size keyboard. Equally distinguishing, the 1.1-pound system sports a high-performance internal modem and three ports plus two card slots.
In the near term, IBM JAPAN LTD. and OLYMPUS OPTICAL CO., LTD. will begin testing at customer sites a "wearable" computer that they codeveloped under a September 1998 agreement. Despite its tiny size the device is only slightly bigger than a Walkman the partners envision it as a stand-alone Windows 95 or Window 98 computer rather than a PDA. The system runs off a Pentium MMX processor and includes 64 MB of internal memory, audio and graphics capabilities, and a USB port. Even more notable, it incorporates INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORP.'s matchbook-size 340-MB microdrive and a head-mounted color display developed by Olympus that is said to provide a resolution similar to viewing a 10-inch PC monitor from about a foot away. Despite the field trials, the partners have not yet decided whether to commercialize the device.
At the same time that it released its Netra t carrier-grade servers, SUN MICROSYSTEMS, INC.'s subsidiary introduced a low-profile storage unit for these systems as well as for any other rack-mounted server running the Solaris operating system. Designed to allow services providers to add storage incrementally in their usually cramped quarters, the Netra st D130 houses up to three hot-swappable 10,000-RPM disk drives with a total storage capacity of 54 GB in an enclosure only one rack-unit high. Moreover, the drives can be connected directly to the Ultra SCSI port that is standard on all Sun servers. The company priced the Netra st D130 at $11,200.
The challenge of network file storage increases virtually every day for big corporations. UNISYS CORP.'s subsidiary sees in this problem a sales opportunity for its FS1006 file server series. Not unlike marketers of competing network file servers, Unisys maintains that its dedicated products provide the failure-proof access to data that big businesses demand. Equally important, the FS1006 line meets their requirements for scalability up to 1.1 terabytes. Moreover, it supports mixed Windows NT and Unix environments. Another key attribute of the FS1006, which lists for $123,800 and up, is that access to the file server and the storage is over a network, including Gigabit Ethernet.
Market newcomer GENROCO, INC. believes that corporate Japan soon will need a next- generation storage area network solution in the form of its Gigabyte System Network product family. This line includes an eight-port, full bridging switch, a Gigabit Ethernet network router, a storage array controller and software based on a new, very-high- bandwidth network protocol known as Schedule Transfer. The Slinger, Wisconsin company boldly says that its GSN products are the foundation for the highest-bandwidth, lowest- latency storage and networking topology available today. More importantly, it adds, they enable highly scalable SANs across numerous disparate network technologies. TOKYO ELECTRON LTD. has the job of translating GENROCO's claims into sales.
According to DELL COMPUTER CORP.'s subsidiary, the latest additions to its PowerVault family will allow storage area networks to be constructed at about half the cost as before. The PowerVault 51F Fibre Channel switch can be configured with as many as eight universal ports for connecting servers and tape drives to the SAN fabric. Together with the simultaneously released PowerVault QLA2200F/2000 host bus adapter, midsize and big companies can build SANs with as much as 8.4 terabytes of capacity. The switch is priced from $11,000, while the adapter starts at $1,400.
HEWLETT-PACKARD JAPAN LTD. penciled in first-year sales of 400 HP SureStore 125ex jukeboxes. This target is based in part on the fact that the latest addition to this HEWLETT-PACKARD CO. storage family, which uses 5.2-GB rewritable magneto- optical media cartridges, gives smaller organizations 50 percent more capacity than the 80ex model for the same price. The HP SureStore 125ex comes with 24 slots and, therefore, offers a total capacity of 124.8 GB of data. HP Japan priced the new jukebox at $13,400 for a single 5.2-GB cartridge and at $18,800 for two.
Because their gear is complementary, the subsidiaries of COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. and STORAGE TECHNOLOGY CORP. have decided to cooperate in the field of storage products in order to boost the sales of both. The marketing arm of Louisville, Colorado-based Storage Technology will include among its offerings Compaq's disk array subsystems. Conversely, the computer company will handle the big network storage manufacturer's open-enterprise tape library systems.
PC manufacturers in Japan are testing a new line of extremely high-density, high- performance 3.5-inch hard drives from QUANTUM CORP. The Ultra SCSI Atlas V features a disk rotational speed of 7,200 RPM rather than the 5,400 RPM more typically found in desktop machines and provides a minimum of 9 GB of storage for as little as $400. Quantum's subsidiary plans to begin commercial shipments in the spring of 2000.
EXABYTE CORP. lined up additional supplies of AVE (advanced metal evaporated) media tapes for its MammothTape backup tape drives. The Boulder, Colorado company contracted with TDK CORP. to make seven-micron 170-meter, 125-meter and 45-meter AME media tapes for its Mammoth, Mammoth-LT and recently announced Mammoth-2 tape drives as well as for Exabyte's autoloaders and tape libraries. AVE technology is said to give media higher capacity and superior signal strength while reducing the chance of read/write errors.
Continuing to push the resolution boundaries of color TFT LCD displays, IBM JAPAN LTD. introduced a 20.8-inch module with nearly 3.15 million pixels, arrayed as 2048 x 1536 pixels. That is the new QXGA (quadruple XGA) graphics specification. The ITQX20, which is housed in a compact package and features a viewing angle as wide as 170 degrees, is aimed at such applications as document creation and processing, image processing and medical imagery. Volume production of the extremely high-resolution panel will start in the first half of 2000 at one of affiliate DISPLAY TECHNOLOGIES INC.'s plants. It will be fabricated alongside a very high-resolution 15-inch panel that IBM Japan also helped to develop (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 361, October 1999, p. 19).
COMPAQ COMPUTER CORP. also sees an expanding market in Japan for high- resolution, space-sav-ing TFT LCD monitors. Its subsidiary has launched sales of the $4,400 TFT7000 color flat-panel display. With a diagonal viewing area of 17 inches, the display provides a super XGA resolution of 1280 x 1024 pixels and a 160-degree viewing angle.
A fourth Japanese company has acquired a license for EASTMAN KODAK CO.'s organic electroluminescence know-how. NIPPON SEIKI CO., LTD. will use the new type of flat- panel display technology for motor vehicle instrumentation applications. Kodak claims a number of advantages for its OEL technology over today's LCD technology, including lower power consumption, a faster response time, higher brightness levels in a variety of lighting conditions, an unlimited viewing angle and a thinner design. Nippon Seiki, which now is planning to start production of OEL-based displays for instrument panels in mid-2002, has the right under the agreement to buy OEL materials from Kodak. The company's other Japanese licensees are PIONEER CORP., SANYO ELECTRIC CO., LTD. and TDK CORP. Kodak and Sanyo, which also is a development partner, recently announced the first commercially viable OEL display (see Japan-U.S. Business Report No. 362, November 1999, p. 18).
Flight simulation game enthusiasts have two new joysticks from Fremont, California's LOGITECH, INC. that offer improved operability. The $75 WingMan Extreme Digital 3D is designed for advanced players, while the WingMan Attack, which is priced around $40, is targeted at beginners or occasional players.
HITACHI, LTD. has chosen the Peerless ImageWorks controller for its next generation of SL color printer engines. Developer PEERLESS SYSTEMS CORP. of El Segundo, California notes that its design is scalable and flexible as well as easy to customize to support families of printing products. A number of OEMs have adopted Hitachi's current SL-1 color printer engine for their office color printers.
New Versa FX notebook computers from NEC CORP. will incorporate graphics subsystems from SILICON MOTION, INC.'s Lynx family. The model for the Japanese and European markets, which sports a 333-MHz Celeron processor, will use the LynxEM, while the Pentium III-equipped Versa FX for American business users will integrate the LynxEM4. The two controllers provide the same functionality, but the LynxEM4 has more internal memory for faster, higher-bandwidth graphics applications. San Jose, California- based Silicon Motion says that a major selling point of its controllers is their pin compatibility, which facilitates integration into multiple designs for different markets.
At the same time, NEC CORP. is bundling its Japan-only DV Editor, which consists of an IEEE 1394 board or card and software for digital video processing, with SONIC SOLUTIONS' DVDit! LE DVD authoring software. The result, the Novato, California supplier says, is a complete, easy-to-use and affordable digital video production and DVD authoring system for PC users.
The first company to employ SPATIALIZER AUDIO LABORATORIES, INC.'s new 3D stereo technology, represented by the AN7399 chip, is MITSUBISHI ELECTRIC CORP. Its product is a high-resolution, 15-inch color TFT LCD monitor/television that is only slightly more than an inch thick. This deal marks the first time that MELCO has licensed Spatializer's audio technology, although the Woodland Hills, California company counts most of Japan's other big-name electronics manufacturers among its licensees.
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