March 11, 1997 6:15 PM ET
HP's new Pentium II-based Vectra PCs to stress easy upgrades, greater expansion
By Lisa DiCarlo

  Hewlett-Packard Co. wants to put the Pentium Pro/Windows NT desktop combination into the hands of a broader range of corporate users next quarter.

The Palo Alto, Calif., company will release a line of Pentium II-based Vectra PCs, code-named Mocha, that have been completely redesigned for easy upgrades, increased expansion and serviceability, according to sources close to HP.

Mocha, which will be available in a desktop and a minitower chassis, features a new motherboard package and CPU backplane, the sources said.

The system has been designed to let users add up to six expansion cards in minitower systems--more than are currently possible given Pentium II space constraints, the sources said.

Mocha also has fewer internal and external screws for easier access and incorporates a shelf approach--rather than rails--for adding components such as CD-ROM or hard drives.

The use of standard-size shelves lets users add a wider range of peripherals that easily slide into the system.

"They're building a high-volume, compact product with a high level of expandability,'' said a source familiar with HP's plans.

Although pricing information wasn't available, sources said the product, part of HP's Value line, will appeal to a much broader range of corporate users who have not yet moved to Pentium Pro and Windows NT on the desktop.

Although the initiative is new for HP, other PC companies also have adopted a modular approach to motherboard system design, including Dell Computer Corp. and Compaq Computer Corp.

HP will migrate the new design to other Vectra products as the Pentium II becomes pervasive, sources said.

HP's Pentium II technology demonstration at CeBIT 97 this week in Hannover, Germany, will be housed in an existing Vectra chassis, with the Mocha product coming when Intel Corp. announces Pentium II later in the second quarter, sources said.

Intel on Wednesday will give its first public demonstration of the chip, formerly known as Klamath, officials said. About 15 PC makers will be on hand during the week with Pentium II-based systems, although no one will disclose benchmark, configuration or pricing information.

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