Unix International and Unix System Laboratories Announce Multiprocessing Features Through Early Access Program

SUMMIT, N.J., May 29, 1991 -- PRNewswire -- UNIX International, Inc. (UI) and UNIX System Laboratories, Inc. (USL), today said that an initial release of standard multiprocessing features of the UNIX(R) System V Release 4 operating system is now available to the computer industry through UI's "Early Access" program.

The "Early Access" program gives UI members an opportunity to get their products to the market in less time by allowing them access to the ongoing development version of the operating system. This allows members to shorten the time lag between the actual release of the enhanced operating system and their products, giving end users earlier availability of new technology.

The key feature of the new release is support for fully symmetric multiprocessing, that is, the use of multiple microprocessors in one computer system to speed up computation and communications. The product will be available in final form from USL later this year as UNIX System V Release 4 Multi-Processor (SV R4 MP). Based largely on technology contributed by NCR Corporation, the release is being developed by USL and a consortium of companies whose members include Intel, NCR Corporation, Oki Electric Industry Co., Ltd., Ing C. Olivetti & C.S.p.A. and Unisys. The early access version will run on systems based on the Intel 386TM and Intel 486TM microprocessors. Motorola and Unisys are porting the release to the Motorola 88000 microprocessor.

SVR4 MP is USL's first step toward providing the comprehensive support for multiprocessing systems called for in UI's UNIX System V Roadmap, a public document that describes what the computer industry wants to see in the UNIX System V over the next one-to-five years.

"Design goals for SVR4 MP include greater throughput, faster response time and a higher number of transactions per second than any existing small-to-medium scale multiprocessing implementation of UNIX System V. The companies working on SVR4 MP are doing an outstanding job of meeting those goals," said Mike De Fazio, executive vice president, UNIX System V Software, at USL. "Availability of a standard multiprocessing version of Release 4 will give software developers and end users a high-performance, standards compliant platform for entry level and mid-range multiprocessing applications."

The UI UNIX System V Roadmap calls for a phased approach to multiprocessing, beginning with support in 1991 for standard symmetric multiprocessing systems with up to 10 microprocessors and extending into support for larger-scale, secure multiprocessing systems and a new generation of applications designed to run in parallel processing environments.

"The UNIX International Early Access Program gives our members the opportunity to bring their products to end users with far less of a time lag through coordination of their product development with USL's release of early versions of standard multiprocessing software. This is a true benefit over having to postpone product development until general release of the standard multiprocessing software that USL is providing," said Peter Cunningham, president and CEO of UNIX International.

"The UI/USL partnership is once again demonstrating its full potential. Not only has USL met all of the requirements and time schedules that UI put forth in our UI UNIX System V Roadmap, but through this early access program our members will be able to take the price/ performance advantages of this release to the marketplace and give those advantages to their customers at a time when the use of productive cost saving software is most important," Cunningham said.

Both NCR Corporation and Unisys have already announced multiprocessor systems based on the Intel 486 microprocessor that will run SVR4 MP.

William J. Eisenman, vice president, Multi-user Products Division, at NCR Corporation said, "SVR4 MP provides a solid base so that vendors can devote their resources toward adding value at a higher level in areas such as high availability and multimedia, as demonstrated in our recent release of mainframe class MP systems."

Jerry Petersen, vice president of marketing, UNIX Systems Group, at Unisys said, "The adoption of SVR4 MP increases the level of standards conformance, while introducing multi-demensional scalability. This will attract even more solutions to the UNIX System."

Like its SVR4 parent, the multiprocessing release conforms to all significant open system industry standards, including X/Open's Portability Guide Issue 3, IEEE POSIX, and the System V Interface Definition. In keeping with USL's emphasis on protecting end user and software developer investments, applications written for UNIX System V Release 3.2 and UNIX System V Release 4 will run without change on SVR4 MP and applications written for SVR4 MP will be compatible with future SVR4 multiprocessing enhancements.

One of the key features of the fully multithreaded SVR4 MP release is its support of fully symmetric multiprocessing, including symmetric I/O, which means that any processor in a computer system has equal access to all components of the system. The alternative, in which calls to different components of a system must be sent through a single master processor or to specifically assigned processors, can cause performance to drop as processors sit idle, waiting for other operations to conclude.

Other features of the release include: -- Complete compatibility with the SVR4 Application Binary Interface so applications already written for UNIX System V Release 4 run unchanged on SVR4 MP. -- Complete compatibility with SVR4 device drivers -- code that controls printers or fax boards or hard disks or network protocol handlers -- so that drivers written to SVR4's DDI/DKI (Device Driver Interface/Device Kernel Interface standard) continue to work on SVR4 MP. -- Support of EISA and AT computer bus designs for Intel 386 and Intel 486 microprocessor systems in the "Early Access" version, with planned support for the VME and MCA buses later. -- Complete isolation of hardware dependent code, making it easier to move SVR4 MP to different chip architectures; that gives hardware and software vendors flexibility to offer customers the same solutions running on mixed-architecture product lines.

-- Scalability without performance loss for up to 10 processors, giving users flexibility to begin with small systems and add processors with predictable performance gains as demand increases.

-- A processor binding mechanism that allows users to assign certain priority processes or computing tasks to specific processors, while letting the operating system dynamically balance the rest of the load across the other processors in the system.

-- An MP kernel debugger that lets programmers examine and modify the kernel in real time helps reduce the time it takes to move the operating system to new hardware platforms.

CONTACT: Steve Payne of UNIX International, 201-263-8400; or Dick Muldoon of USL, 908-522-6274; or Mark Metzger or Jack Jackson of Miller Communications, 617-536-0470 for UNIX

Copyright (c) 1991, PR Newswire