Kendall Square gets boost from ArmyA $5 million order from...

TECHNOLOGY & COMMUNICATION

April 26, 1993|By Steve Auerweck | Steve Auerweck,Staff Writer

Kendall Square gets boost from Army

A $5 million order from the Army Research Laboratory in Aberdeen helped to put Kendall Square Research Corp. in the black in its first quarter.

Kendall Square, based in Waltham, Mass., makes "massively parallel" supercomputers. It can harness up to 1,088 processors to tackle stubborn problems.

In Aberdeen, the system will handle scientific computing for Army, Navy and Air Force researchers across the country. Typical applications: designing ships and planes or developing new kinds of armor and weapons, says laboratory spokeswoman Denice Brown.

The Army has ordered 256 processors, but won't put them all together at the outset. Susan Parrish of Kendall Square explained that "our machines are like Legos; you can start with a small one and then add processors." The lab is beginning with three machines -- 128, 64 and 64 processors -- for development. Later, they'll be put together.

A 256-processor machine could handle more than 8,000 megabytes of main memory, with a peak processing speed of 10.25 billion operations a second.

Kendall Square Research, founded in 1986, only began actively marketing about a year ago. It had $11.5 million in sales in the quarter that ended March 27, and net income of $250,000, compared to a $4.5 million loss in the quarter a year ago.

Its largest office outside Massachusetts is in Greenbelt.

Hopkins tests software by Visual Cybernetics

The Johns Hopkins Hospital is testing software from Visual Cybernetics Corp. that could replace chemical tests for cancer cells.

The New York City company's products use a combination of imaging, data base and expert systems to identify details in cells. Company Vice President Mujahid Bashir said, "Many others provide very rudimentary image analysis. This is very specific to cancer detection."

The company said last week that its Cyto-Imaging system is exceeding expectations in the first phase of tests; Hopkins will issue a written report when the testing is done, about a month from now.

New material invented for use in disk drives

Corning Inc. has invented a glass-ceramic composite that will reduce the cost of making hard disk drives while increasing their capacity.

Seagate Technology has a multimillion-dollar deal to buy the new material, dubbed MemCor, from Corning, and plans to begin volume production of drives with it by the fall.

Until now, the platters in hard disk drives have usually been made of aluminum, reinforced with a layer of nickel for strength. A film of magnetic coating on top of the "stack" actually holds the data.

The problem with that is the precision needed to record 3,000 tracks per inch across the surface of the disk. Because any flaw can ruin the disk, it must be polished and tested at each step in the manufacturing process.

Corning's new material does not need an extra strengthening layer, and it tolerates shocks better than aluminum, making it ideal for portable computers. As a bonus, its texture is more uniform, which will let Seagate pack in more data per inch.

Industry price-cutting likely to continue

Price-cutting that rattled the personal computer industry last year will continue, as companies pare production costs to take advantage of a growing number of computer buyers, says Compaq Computer Corp. Chief Executive Eckhard Pfeiffer.

"The time to relax, if ever, is certainly not now," he said after last week's annual meeting.

Mr. Pfeiffer took over at Compaq 18 months ago, after the ouster of Rod Canion, chief executive and co-founder. He cut costs, laying off more than 2,000 workers, and initiated a price war in the industry last June.

So far, the strategy has worked. Compaq recently reported that first-quarter earnings surged 126 percent from a year ago to $102 million.

Technology forum at UM set for May 14

The Baltimore Washington Information Systems Educators, a nonprofit group of computer trainers and managers, will hold a daylong technology forum at the University of Maryland at College Park on May 14.

The forum at the Center for Adult Education will cover topics including client-server architecture, object-oriented methodology, graphical user interfaces, and local area networks.

The event costs $45, which includes lunch. For information, call (410) 998-6028.

Apple reportedly works on Mac-like PC

Is it possible to have your cake and eat it too?

Apple Computer Inc. may be collaborating with Novell Inc. on software that could give Intel-based PCs the Macintosh look, according to news reports. Industry sources were quoted as saying that Novell is creating clones of Microsoft Corp.'s DOS and Windows. Apple would provide software that mimicked the screen display and functions of the Macintosh. The PCs would be Mac-like, but would not actually run Macintosh software.

The companies had no comment.

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