IBM Unveils Windows NT Desktops

Trying to broaden the appeal of its workstations to the lower-end markets, IBM on Wednesday announced an aggressively priced series of Windows NT-based desktops that feature the company's copper chip technology.

With pricing starting at around $US1,400, the Intellistation E Pro and Z Pro systems feature Pentium III chips ranging in speeds as fast as 1GHz. They are designed to appeal to Web page developers, architects, video editors, and other users involved in graphics-intensive applications.

Company officials note the new systems are the first to incorporate the company's Fire GL2 graphics adapter card, which is based on IBM's copper-based chips. They claim the card is significantly faster than a card using traditional chips, and it costs 75 per cent less.

Some analysts believe the new systems' price performance will likely grab the attention of new workstation users looking for price points.

"With the E Pro line, it looks like IBM has the chance to expand its presence among more price-conscious customers in some of the creative markets like multimedia authoring and video editing," said Kara Yokley, workstation research analyst at International Data Corp (US).

IBM officials said the new systems are certified to work with 209 individual certified software solutions ranging from Web design to digital content creation.

"With these systems, we think we can offer a much wider variety of products. And starting at $US1,400, we think we have a range of workstations that can appeal to all customers ranging from individual graphics designers to industrial engineers working at large firms," said Wayne Flaggs, vice president of sales and marketing for Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM's Intellistation line.

With the new systems, users can receive IBM's usual telephone and/or Web-based technical support for the products, or they can contact the company's Intellistation Ask Engineering response team. That team offers personalized, online support of the hundreds of Intellistation-supported applications.

The systems are available either as rack-mountable mini-towers, which feature seven bays and five PCI slots, or as a desktop, which has four bays and three PCI slots.

The E Pro systems can have as much as a 1GHz Pentium III Pentium processor, with a 133MHz front-side bus; at least 64MB of memory expandable to 256MB; 15GB hard drives; and an Ultra 160 SCSI adapter. The system also can house a Matrox Millennium G450 AGP graphics board with 16MB of dedicated memory, and is preloaded with Windows 2000.

The Z Pro systems can handle as many as two 1GHz Pentium III Xeon chips, 128MB of memory expandable to 256MB, an Ultra 160 SCSI adapter, the Matrox G450 AGP with 16MB of memory capable of supporting dual monitors, and Windows 2000.

The units sport a sleeker design largely based on users' wish lists, with their more modular components and tools-free access.

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