Digital Equipment, which sealed an alliance with Microsoft last year, has rounded out its family of desktop workstations with the addition of Windows NT Personal Workstations (PWs) based on Intel Pentium chip sets that can be fully upgraded to Digital's powerful 64-bit Alpha processor. The PWs are available with Pentium Pro 180 and single or double 200-MHz processors, supported by 32 MB to 256 MB of EDO memory and five PCI slots. They come with Windows NT version 3.51 of 4.0 factory installed. 'Windows NT is a major trend in the industry so we saw the need to create a new NT group within the Digital Workstation family,' said Annie Chan, Digital's workstation manager for Asia Pacific. The PWs have been designed for customers in the graphic-intensive industries, including electrical and manufacturing CAD/CAM, animation, finance, geographic information systems and software engineering. Most workstations supplied by Digital were networked but on graphics applications they were operated individually to maximise processing power, Ms Chan said. A typical end-user order could be as low as one or two machines, with value-added re-sellers or systems integrators ordering a range of between 20 and 50 and distributors ordering as many as 100 machines at a time. The new PWs offer a big range of 3D graphics including Digital's PowerStorm OpenGL adapters, integrated 16-bit audio and integrated Ethernet. They can handle workstation applications from leading vendors including Softimage, AutoDesk, Bentley and ViewLogic. The PW 200i, based on a single 200-MHz Pentium Pro chip, is ideal for big video and 3D applications and is priced from US$5,372 fully configured. Base systems without a hard drive or graphics adapter are available from US$3,697 for the 180-MHz model to US$4,751 for the dual Pentium 200i (2). The new Intel-based PWs can be easily upgraded to Alpha processors but are restricted to operating in the Windows NT environment, unlike the high-end of Digital's workstation range. All the machines in the high-end AlphaStation 255 and 500 ranges, based on Digital's Alpha processors running at 266 MHz, 333 MHz or 400 MHz, can be used in either Windows NT, UNIX or Open VMS operating systems, with the change of software platform achieved through an appropriate CD-ROM. 'A customer still using UNIX today can choose the processor he wants and upgrade later by CD top Windows NT. None of the competitors have the flexibility to do this,' Ms Chan said. The 255 AlphaStation range, based on the 233-MHz and 300-MHz Alpha chips, is designed for mechanical and electrical design, graphics information systems, financial modelling and desktop publishing. Digital describes its AlphaStation 500 machines, ranging from 266 MHz to 400 MHz, as 'a family of high performance, mid-range graphics workstations'. The 500 series is aimed at complex, leading-edge technical engineering and scientific applications, including MCAD and ECAD (Mechanical and Electrical Computer Aided Design), Geographical Information Systems and Science and Energy Applications. The machinery and heavy equipment industries are big users of Digital workstations. South Korea is Digital's biggest workstation market in Asia and Japan is the largest in the Asia-Pacific region. Digital sees great potential for sales in Asean countries compared to more saturated markets like Australia which feature intense competition. Ms Chan said most workstations sold in China were used in the engineering and scientific sectors. Development of the Windows NT-based PW was a direct result of the co-operative deal signed by Digital and Microsoft, she said. Since the deal was announced, the two companies developed a closer understanding of each other's architecture.