Vendors give K6 a thumbs-up

ATLANTA - Last week's Spring Comdex show featured vendor support for Advanced Micro Devices Inc.'s K6 chip a projection of Windows NT 5.0 availability from Microsoft Corp. chairman Bill Gates and a slew of new notebooks from Toshiba America Information Systems Inc.

At Comdex Digital Equipment Corp. and Everex Systems Inc. were among vendors previewing PCs employing AMD's K6. The chip which began shipping in April offers performance comparable with Intel Corp.'s high-end Pentium chips at a lower price. PC vendors report they can price K6 machines hundreds of dollars less than Pentium machines.

Digital announced it is employing K6 processors in its Venturis FX-2 desktop PCs a 200 MHz version of which was demonstrated at Comdex. The company said a Venturis FX-2 with a 166 MHz K6 chip offers similar performance to its FX-2 system running a 200 MHz Pentium with MMX technology chip but costs $210 less. Digital said retail pricing for the 166 MHz K6 machine is $1 249.

Jim Gargan director of strategic alliances at Digital said the Venturis FX-2 equipped with K6 will appeal to customers who "want to get the most processor for the IT dollar." He added that the product also will attract buyers who need to support mixed operating systems environments because the K6 runs Microsoft's Windows 95 and Windows NT equally well.

Philip R. Kennett general manager of PC federal sales at Digital said the K6-based Venturis will be proposed for inclusion on the General Services Administration schedule and other federal contracts. The product will be shipping in volume by the end of June.

"We believe it fits a price/performance niche where we will receive a favorable response " Kennett said.Everex meanwhile displayed its Tempo K Series which is designed to run 166 MHz or 200 MHz K6 chips and showed a notebook running a 200 MHz K6 chip. The notebook is a variation on Everex's StepNote NT notebook which was announced last week. Everex is planning to propose the K6 notebook as an addition to the Navy's New Technology for Office and Portable Systems held by Cordant Inc.

K6 provides "incredible performance " said Ned Nevels a vice president at Everex. He said the chip produces much lower voltage than a Pentium II and is currently better-suited for use in notebooks where high-voltage chips reduce battery life.

Nevels said he believes the federal market which has traditionally purchased Intel-powered machines needs to be educated about the K6. Digital is planning to offer a seminar on its K6-equipped product.

The new K6 adherents will join Dunn Computer Corp. and NEC Computer Systems Division which already offer K6 products on the GSA schedule.

NT 5.0 Beta Due This FallFederal agencies that have embraced Microsoft's Windows NT have a new version to factor into their plans. Gates said during the keynote presentation that the beta release of Windows NT 5.0 is slated for fall while a final release will take place during the first half of 1998.

Windows NT has been making major inroads against Unix in the federal market with Defense Department officials reporting that NT will likely emerge as the military's dominant operating system on servers and desktops [FCW May 12]. Gates noted that NT "is our most important product in terms of the strategic impact" it is having in the market. He predicted that a "substantial portion" of business desktops will run NT within the next few years.

And vendors are taking NT to increasingly smaller devices. Everex which follows such vendors as Digital in offering NT on a notebook is positioning its StepNote NT as a desktop replacement. The product has been proposed for inclusion on Cordant's NTOPS contract and the Army's Portable-2 pact held by Government Technology Services Inc. noted Wayne Brown operations manager of government systems at Exerex.

Toshiba's New NotebooksToshiba made a series of notebook announcements at Com-dex including the introduction of what it termed a "mini-notebook."

The company's Libretto 50CT is a 1.85-pound package similar in size to a handheld computer but offers features typical of traditional notebooks. It runs Windows 95 rather than the handheld-oriented Windows CE. The notebook also includes a 75 MHz Pentium chip an 810M hard drive and a TFT color screen at a suggested list price of $1 999.

Other notebook debuts included the Portege 300 CT a 3.8-pound device that runs a 133 MHz Pentium processor with the MMX technology chip the Satellite 200CDS a 133 MHz Pentium machine priced less than $2 000 the Satellite Pro 440 Series and Satellite Pro 460CDT which offer Pentium with MMX technology and the Tecra 520CDT and 530CDT which run a 166 MHz Pentium with MMX technology chips and will be desktop replacements.

Toshiba will offer the notebooks through the GSA schedule.

Jan O'HARA federal sales manager at Toshiba said she expects the majority of the new models to hit the schedule by July 15.

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