Scor­pio News


May 1989 – Volume 3. Final Issue.

Page 28 of 43

existing Z80 based activities. In fact, the arrival of the Hitachi 64180 will ensure the continued production of our Z80 compatible systems for many years to come.

I left Nascom exactly 8 years after founding the company and am about to celebrate my ninth anniversary at Gemini – only this time I’m staying!

Gemini is one of the longest established companies in the micro business and this relative longevity enables us to now contemplate pursuing a programme of rapid expansion from a sound base.

In 1987 we began to work in close co-operation with Glasgow University with a view to developing and marketing a range of boards and systems based around the INMOS Transputer. This arrangement has now evolved into an exclusive agreement which will allow us to develop a wide range of Transputer-based products.

It is interesting to compare the Nascom 1 CPU board, designed in 1977, with the WorkStation card developed at Gemini 11 years later, which will become the main CPU unit for our new range of desktop Supercomputers:–

Processor(s):One 8-bit Z80Nine 32-bit T800s
CPU Speed:2 MHz25 MHz
On-Board DRAM:2 KBytes64 MBytes

The above table shows quite clearly how far the industry has evolved in such a short time. The first transistor was developed in the Bell labs in 1946. Thirty years later in 1976 Zilog designed the Z80 consisting of 8,500 transistors. Ten years after that, INMOS manufactured the first prototype T800, a VLSI device which has more than 300,000 transistors in a single chip! In 1977 2 MHz clock speeds were state-of-the-art, whereas today, 25 MHz is becoming somewhat pedestrian. I remember the hassle we had trying to contain the system software within a 2708 1K EPROM and how generous we thought we were by including 32 1K DRAMs then, as opposed to the 64 1M x 8 devices on the GM8102!

Gemini transputer-based systems use building blocks of 8 transputers per card, and these can be built up into very large systems – we have just submitted a proposal for a machine with 384 T800 transputers and 1.636 Gigabytes of DRAM!

We also supply cards on IBM AT formats for more modest applications where people are trying to enhance the speed of their application by supplementing the host CPU with one or more Transputers.

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