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Early Multiprocessing: A Killer App

mpgWhile lack of software support for multiprocessing has deterred buyers from investing in expensive multiprocessing servers, Schatt and other analysts forecast better days ahead. The proliferation and expansion of LANs and the demands of the mission-critical applications running on them will spur buyers and advance the market over the long run, they said.

“I think the important factor is to look at the big picture. Downsizing [and] enterprise networking [are] definitely going to be a force,” Schatt said. “Probably 1994 will be the year of the super server. We’ll see significant growth in 1993 and 1994.”

According to Schatt, overly optimistic expectations have contributed to …

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Server Construction That Replaced Mainframes Still Effective

svrcnCorporations are moving to multiprocessor servers from two directions. Some are stepping down from outdated and expensive mainframe environments, while others are stepping up from the slightly souped-up PCs they’ve been using as file servers.

Either way, buyers seek out power, scalability and fault tolerance, though not necessarily in that order.

“Super” servers flex their multiple processors in one of two architectures. Asymmetric multiprocessing dedicates each processor to a specific task. In symmetric multiprocessing, a more advanced and costlier technology, tasks are distributed to whichever processor is available.

But some network operating systems, most notably Novell Inc.’s NetWare, do not support more than one …

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When Developing Software, Take It Slow, Man!

dpswIn the 1980s, a decade in which it was impossible to tell the actors from the politicians, it was fitting that the Macintosh gave anyone with a little cash the ability to produce absolutely gorgeous documents with absolutely no content.

Now rapid software-development tools bring the same potential to developers. If you are quite reasonably looking to such tools to reduce your software backlogs, be careful: It’s as easy to abuse them as it is to use them well.

We’ve seen such abuses up close, and they’re scary. Here are a few of the symptoms. If you spot them in your developers, take action quickly.…

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Computers Aren’t The Math Wizards We Think They Are

catmwThe myth of the computer’s math prowess runs so deep that it’s even built into the name. The verb “compute” comes originally from a Latin root that means “to think,” but during the last 400 years the English word “computation” has become almost synonymous with doing arithmetic.

The less we know about computers, the more likely we are to think of them as giant math machines — a belief that leads to excessive trust in computers’ mathematical abilities, despite their potential for making fundamental errors. As with almost every kind of computer problem, these errors are a result of the decisions made by programmers seeking …

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Borland Destroyed Itself, Frankly

bamcWell, yes, $99 prices do get our attention, don’t they?

But an introductory price under a hundred bucks certainly isn’t going to be the key to whether the Redmond gang succeeds in its effort to muscle into the serious database market — one of only two applications-software areas where it has never been able to compete.

(The other area? Async communications, where Microsoft sold briefly seven years ago one of the worst programs ever shipped. It was named — eerily — Microsoft Access. I think I might have been a little more sensitive to history, Mr. Gates.)

Nope, $99 prices won’t do it. All Gates …

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RAID’s Baby Stages Built A Great Future For Data Storage

rbsbadsFeeding on the proliferation of PC LANs, user interest in RAID — Redundant Arrays of Inexpensive Disks — is building rapidly.

“As the network applications become more critical to the company, you’ve got to take significant steps to make sure that when the network goes down it doesn’t take everything with it,” said Roy Wilsker, manager of end-user servers for Kendall Co., a health-care and adhesives company based in Mansfield, Mass.

Wilsker said one of those steps he is considering is installing RAID products in his network servers.

“It’s believed to be potentially a $5 billion market and there’s not a clear market leader, so …

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The Birth Of Acrobat And Adobe’s Screw-ups

ababFor a company that typically shies away from preannouncing products, Adobe Systems Inc.’s recent formal unveiling of its Acrobat document-interchange technology seems a little out of character.

While almost everyone agrees that Adobe is working on an important technology, the hoopla over the announcement turned out to be little more than a public relations effort.

Yes, Adobe unveiled the formal name of the technology — Acrobat — performed a “live” demonstration and announced two components, Acrobat Viewer and Distiller, which will be delivered within six months. (See PC Week, Nov. 23, Page 6.) But the Mountain View, Calif., company has previewed the technology, code-named Carousel, …

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CDPD: It Died So Faster Cell Service Could Live

cdpdNearly 100 years after Guglielmo Marconi successfully transmitted and received electronic signals via his wireless telegraphic invention, a budding wireless network is poised to become the mobile data transmission route of the future.

The Cellular Digital Packet Data (CDPD) network is designed to let cellular subscribers send digital data from mobile PCs over existing cellular networks. Mixing a myriad of technologies, including the ability to send packets of data over cellular airwaves instead of traditional analog transmission, CDPD could provide PC users with quick and reliable data transmission, analysts said.

“CDPD is going to happen and it will be a tremendous challenge for RAM [Mobile …

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