Axil targets Sun with SPARC-compatible graphics computer

Axil Computer Inc. this week will turn up the heat on Sun Microsystems Inc. with a SPARC-compatible high-end graphics computer that provides extra performance and connectivity options while maintaining a 10 to 15 percent price advantage.

Going head to head with Sun's 167 MHz Ultra 1 Model 170E, the Axil Ultima 1/E+ offers customers the option of either a 167 MHz or 200 MHz processor. It also comes with four SBus expansion slots, compared with Sun's two slots, for additional graphics, connectivity or input/output processing. The Ultima 1/E+ is available as either a workstation or server, the company said.

In part, the requirements for the new computer were driven by Axil's recent bid on the Army Workstation-I procurement, said Mike Nalls, the Ultima 1/E+ product marketing manager for Axil, Santa Clara, Calif. "What we found was [the Army] had quite a few unique requirements for various kinds of simulation [applications]," such as battlefield simulation, data capture and manipulation, and geographic information systems, Nalls said. These users are "looking for ways to speed up their applications," he said.

With the Ultima 1/E+, Axil continues to do a good job of differentiating its systems from Sun's while offering a lower price, said Andy Feit, director of advanced desktop computing at market research firm Dataquest. "You can get the 200 MHz uniprocessor for essentially the same price you can get the 167 MHz from Sun," Feit said. "It's nice to have a little bit of a difference."

In fact, Axil is most competitive in government solicitations and similar arenas where price plays a big role. On government requests for proposals, "if you can deliver the same functionality at a lower price, you win," Feit said.

According to IDC Government Market Services, which recently completed a survey of the federal workstation and server markets, Axil does not yet have a large installed base in the federal market. However, over the last year, the company has picked up a number of large indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity vehicles, in addition to its own General Services Administration Schedule A contract. The new vehicles include the Defense Intelligence Agency's Integration for Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (IC4I) pact, through BTG Inc. and SRA International Inc., and the Justice Consolidated Office Network and the Army's Outside Cable Rehabilitation II contracts, both through GTE Corp.

Axil plans to add the Ultima I/E+ to IC4I, JCON and other contracts, the company said. In addition, Telos Corp.will soon carry the Ultima I/E+ and other Axil products on its GSA schedule. "If they have managed to get some IDIQ contracts, they can make some in-roads," said Jan Morgan, a research analyst at IDC GMS, Falls Church, Va.

64-Bit Architecture

Axil's Ultima 1/E+ provides a 64-bit UltraSPARC architecture and up to 512M of memory.

Pricing for the 167 MHz system begins at $21,265 for the workstation configuration and $20,025 for the server. Pricing for the 200 MHz system begins at $22,290 for the workstation and $21,050 for the server. The Ultima 1/E+ is the first of a series of new Axil products that will compete with Sun's 64-bit UltraSPARC-based computers.

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