AST moves up with Manhattan

WHILE preaching the virtues of computer ''downsizing'', the American personal computer manufacturer, AST Research, has ''upsized'' its product line with the launch of its first multi-processor systems.

The company, which was founded in 1980 making fairly simple PC add-on card products before progressing to system level in 1987, has progressively moved to more and more powerful products.

The so-called Manhattan SMP takes AST further up the performance ladder, being aimed squarely at the market segment currently occupied by proprietary minicomputer architectures, or at competing super-server products like those from Compaq Computer.

''In Asia, we are really looking at these as a minicomputer replacement product,'' said AST Research's Asia/Pacific managing director, Mr Philip Wong. ''We really are moving up from the PC to minicomputer-sized systems.'' The first Manhattan SMP products will house up to six Intel 80486 DX processors, with a starting price of about US$27,000. The systems will run various operating platforms.

AST launched the Manhattan in the US late last year, but held back its Asia launch as it re-designed distribution channels to target what was an entirely new market sector for the company, Mr Wong said.

''We really had to spend a lot of time getting our dealers ready for this - doing all the training and getting stocked up with spare parts inventories.'' Manhattan will be available in volume in Hongkong in June.