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:–
|One 8-bit Z80
|Nine 32-bit T800s
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
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.