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BYTE / NSTL Lab Report, December 1994

10 Drive Bays And Slots Galore...

This $3999 system doesn't have exceptional overall Unix performance results, but it had high intermark and above average X Window System scores, due in part to its fast graphics subsystem. The XiP90 MTower SP utilizes a mini-tower design that houses seven expansion slots (four 16-bit and three PCI local bus), as well as 10 drive bays (six 3 1/2 inch and four 5 1/4 inch). On the downside, the XiP90 MTower SP may frustrate some users because its drive bays and SIMM banks block several expansion slots. These
blocked slots cannot be used for full-length adapters but are fine for daughterboards.

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XiP90 MTower

Price As Tested

Case Type



Ease Of Use



Total Bays

Drive Controller

SP $3999 O 65.15 57.00 4.59

8/128 6/4 IDE

The Dual-Processor Pentium

he latest incarnation of Intel's Pentium processor does more than simply run faster than the older 60- and 66-MHz versions. In fact, along with the availability of Windows NT 3.5 the latest Pentium should make dual-processor architectures a cost- effective option in the desktop workstation market. The P54C Pentium runs faster, comes in a smaller package, operates at 33.V. and adds special support for dual processor designs. High- end multi-processor systems implement a dedicated cache for each processor, but sharing a single-processor cache between two processors enables a simpler, less expensive dual processorarchitecture. The system requires only one SRAM (static RAM) cache and a single cache controller. However, additional logic is also needed to arbitrate access to the shared bus and ensure cache coherency.
The Xi Computer
XiP90 NTower DP
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trans.gif (43 bytes)trans.gif (43 bytes)XiP90 NTower DP- Dual processors with heat sinks
he P54C Pentium has built-in hardware features to support cache coherency and bus arbitration. Vendors can now implement a dual-processor archi- tecture without worrying about designing additional logic to arbitrate a shared cache.
Xi Computer's XiP90 NTower DP came to us with an extra processor installed (above-left). Other units came with open slots for dual-processor upgrades. As the XiP90 proves, you can now buy a surprisingly low cost dual processor system. Or you can buy an upgradeable model and pop in the second processor if your needs demand it. Of course, your software application must support dual processing, Our standard low level and application level benchmarks do not exercise a second processor, so any performance enhancement effected by a dual-processor design will not show up. This brings us to the second development that should boost the market acceptance of dual-processor systems: Windows NT. NT was built from the ground up to support multiple processors. The NT kernel will spawn threads to each available processor. It simply allocates a dedicated processor to the next-highest priority thread. New multi-threaded NT applications, such as Picture Publisher, do not have to do anything special to take advantage of a dual processor. You run different threads for complex operations (e.g.. applying a special-effects filter), and NT will do the rest.