Server and Workstation Cluster Initiative To Define High-Speed Communication Interfaces

HOUSTON, SANTA CLARA, Calif., and REDMOND, Wash., April 16, 1997 — Compaq Computer Corp., Intel Corp., Microsoft Corp. and other industry leaders today announced an initiative to define high-speed communication interfaces for clusters of servers and workstations. Called the Virtual Interface (VI) Architecture specification, the initiative will enable a new class of scalable cluster products offering high performance, low total cost of ownership and broad applicability. More than 40 companies will participate in the process to complete the draft technical specification before its public release later this year.

A cluster is a group of computers and storage devices that function as a single system. Businesses use clusters in place of individual computers for higher availability and enterprise-class scalability. It is possible to use standard local area network (LAN) and wide area network (WAN) technology to connect the machines in a cluster. However, large clusters and high-performance applications require lower latency, higher bandwidth and additional features not offered by standard LAN and WAN technology. A system area network (SAN) is a specialized network optimized for the reliability and performance requirements of clusters.

The VI Architecture specification provides standard hardware and software interfaces for cluster communications. This will spur innovation in SAN technology and make the LAN, WAN and SAN differences transparent to the applications. The VI Architecture specification will support reliable, high-performance SANs, helping clusters achieve their full potential as cost-efficient platforms for large-scale, mission-critical applications.

“Information technology industry leaders continue to lower the cost of information processing on all fronts while enabling advanced customer solutions by bringing value-added technology to the mass market,” said Britt Mayo, director of information technology at Pennzoil Company. “Their efforts to drive the creation of an industry standard for the VI Architecture will make multisystem solutions widely available at new levels of price/performance.”

The VI Architecture specification will be media, processor and operating system independent. The software interface will support a variety of efficient programming models to simplify development and ensure performance. The hardware interface will be compatible with standard networks such as ATM, Ethernet and Fiber Channel as well as specialized SAN products available from a variety of vendors.

Companies that want to participate in the VI Architecture specification process should send an e-mail request for details to mailto:[email protected] Companies today announcing their participation in the VI Architecture specification process include Adaptec, Inc., Compaq Computer Corp., Data General Corp., Digital Equipment Corp., Dolphin Interconnect Solutions Inc., Finistar Corp., GigaNet, Groupe Bull, Hewlett-Packard Co., Hitachi Ltd., Informix Software Inc., Intel Corp., International Business Machines Corp., LSI Logic, Marathon Technologies Corp., Microsoft Corp., MPI Software Technology Inc., Myricom Inc., Myrias Computer Technologies Inc., NEC Corp., Network Integrity, Novell Inc., Olivetti Personal Computers, QLogic Corp., SAP, Samsung Electronics Company Ltd.,The Santa Cruz Operation Inc., Sequent Computer Systems Inc., Siemens Nixdorf Informationssysteme AG, Siemens Pyramid Information Systems Inc., Silicon Graphics Inc.,

Stratus Computer Inc., Tandem Computers Inc., Toshiba Corp., University California Space Sciences Laboratory, Unisys Corp., Veritas Software and VLSI Technology Inc.

Company Backgrounds

Compaq Computer Corp., a Fortune 100 company, is the fifth largest computer company in the world and the largest global supplier of personal computers, delivering useful innovation through products that connect people with people, and people with information. Customer support and information about Compaq and its products can be found ( ) or by calling (800) OK-COMPAQ. Product information and reseller locations can be obtained by calling (800) 345-1518.

Intel, the world’s largest chip maker, is also a leading manufacturer of personal computer, networking and communications products. Information about Intel is available from Intel’s site on the World Wide Web at ( .

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (NASDAQ “MSFT” ) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

Microsoft is either a registered trademark or a trademark of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

Other product and company names herein may be trademarks of their respective owners.

Note to editors : If you are interested in viewing additional information on Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft Web page at on Microsoft’s corporate information pages.

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