Moccasin steps out at PC Expo
By David Morgenstern (firstname.lastname@example.org)
New York -- PC Expo attendees were offered proof today that the forthcoming
PowerPC Platform is not all
smoke and mirrors. In a booth here co-sponsored by the PowerPC partners,
Apple, IBM Corp. and Motorola
Inc., a prototype hardware system booted both the Mac OS and Windows NT.
Based on an IBM prototype, code-named Moccasin, the system ran a 133-MHz
PowerPC 604 processor. It used
an Intel-standard PC keyboard and two-button mouse. Hitting the machine's
On button presented users with a
choice of operating systems as well as other configuration options, such as
adding another OS.
The demonstration ran an unreleased version of System 7.5.3, code-named
Bloom County, that's been altered to
work on PowerPC Platform, or PPCP, machines. Showing that Apple's
system-level programmers are too busy
to bother with the party line for naming conventions, the OS-in-progress
included a CHRP System Enabler 1.0.
(CHRP is the acronym for Common Hardware Reference Platform, the previous
moniker for PPCP.)
The Moccasin box took about one minute and 15 seconds to boot; slightly
less than needed for Windows NT. The demonstration
featured the prototype machine running several Mac applications, including
Claris FileMaker Pro and Adobe Photoshop.
After seeing the demo, one faculty member with Cornell University of New
York, looked forward to running both the Mac OS and
Solaris on the same computer, "We want to leverage our hardware purchases,"
said the educator, who preferred to remain
anonymous. Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Solaris for PowerPC OS, though
announced, was not shown on the prototype machine.
IBM showed Long Trail, its first-generation PPCP licensing design. The
final version of the motherboard will be available in late
August, the company said. Both IBM and Motorola said the PPCP version of
the Mac OS is expected to ship at the same time as
the hardware -- by the end of 1996 or early in the first quarter of 1997.
According to David Ryan, Essex Junction, Vt.-based product line marketing
manager with IBM Microelectronics Division, Long
Trail will let developers pick between the processor daughtercard design
used with many PCI Power Macs and the pin-grid array
processor packaging used for many PC clones. The PowerPC 603e and 604e
processors will offer the same pin array, but higher
performance models will tend toward the daughtercard architecture, Ryan said.
The Long Trail board be built around the ATX layout used in many desktop PC
systems. It will also support low-cost extended
data-out (EDO) memory on DIMMs as well as high-end DIMMs with synchronous
In addition, Long Trail will use several chips from VLSI Technology Inc. of
San Jose, Calif. Unveiled at the show were Golden
Gate II, a pair of PCI-to-processor interface chips; the Tollgate ISA-to
PCI-bridge chip; and Pier39, a Mac-to-PCI bridge chip. The
board will also use VLSI's off-the-shelf VL82C976 GraphiCore graphics chip.
The PPCP system shown offered both PC and Mac I/O, unlike previous
prototype boards that had the Mac I/O on a separate add-in
card. Ryan said that clone vendors expected most users to run the Mac OS,
so it was more cost effective to put ADB and Fast
SCSI-2 ports on the motherboard.
According to Mark Ireland, hardware products program manager with IBM
Microelectronics, most clone vendors will differentiate
systems "south of the border," or with variations of Mac and PC I/O. For
example, manufacturers could add chips to the
motherboard in order to support Universal Serial Bus or FireWire peripherals.
Although Mac-oriented PPCP systems will require an ISA-to-PCI bridge chip
to connect an internal Enhanced-IDE hard drive,
PC-style ROM, and keyboard and mouse, developers building Mac-only systems
will not need to provide an actual ISA slot,
Ireland said. ISA and PCI cards will be offered for Windows NT systems, but
there is a larger installed base of ISA cards, he said.
According to Ryan, PPCP systems will cost less to produce than current
Intel-standard PC clones. He said, in addition, that PC
clone developers are interested in the continued brand loyalty of Mac
users, the growing size of the Mac market and the advanced
level of Mac technology.
"We're having to do some education on the Mac market," Ryan said. "People
out in the PC world are surprised at the technology
and the advanced state of the platform."
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