CLSI, the turnkey vendor with most installed systems has a large base of DEC installations. However, late last year it announced a change in hardware with new systems to be offered only on Sequent or Altos hardware. Support continues to be provided for its installed base of DEC PDP/ll products, but is guaranteed beyond three years only for those libraries which upgrade their PDP/11 processors with 32 bit UNIX B boards.
The change in hardware focus accompanied CLSI's move from a proprietary operating system to the UNIX operating system. As indicated in the preceding piece, DEC hardware also offers support for UNIX, but CLSI believes that the price/performance characteristics offered by the Sequent and Altos products are better suited to its markets.
The Sequent hardware is produced by a small ($38.5 million in sales) company in Portland, Oregon, founded five years ago by former Intel staffers seeking to apply the architecture of multiple microprocessors to computing requirements customarily handled by minicomputers. The company sees itself as "doing with microcomputers what Tandem did with minicomputers." Sequent systems utilize parallel processing with multiple instructions operating on multiple data sets. The systems balance processing tasks among their interconnected microprocessors, all of which are equal with no master-slave architecture to dampen throughput.
The Altos 2000, the hardware selected for supporting smaller CLSI systems, is a 32-bit UNIX-based machine. Both Altos and Sequent are based on Intel's 80386 microprocessor. In March, CLSI announced the successful installation of its first Sequent system, an upgrade of the LIBS 100 system at the Gainesville Public Library in Florida.