AST is playing catch up on market leader Compaq with a new family of servers launched last week. Known as the Premium range, it comprises three models, the Premium KS, Premium GS and the Premium HS, and caters for all users from small workgroups to the high end. The products will compete with Compaq's ProLiant range. The top-of-the-range Premium KS is targetted at power users with large database server applications. Shipping with two 200MHz Pentium Pro processors, it can be upgraded to four. Also included as standard is a Mylex RAID Ultra disk controller and Intel's EtherExpress Pro Server Adaptor. With the HS, AST is among the first manufacturers to offer Intel's 120-compliant Ethernet subsystem as standard. The HS ships with two Intel i960r RD I/O processors - one for the Ethernet controller and smart PCI slots, and one for the SCSI RAID controller. The other members of the Premium family include the Premium GS, designed for small workgroups, first time server sites, remote branch offices and addtional server sites. Its features include dual Intel Pentium II processors, UltraWide SCSI disk subsystems and integrated 10/100Mb Ethernet. AST also announced a build-to-order facility aimed at corporate buyers. The new service allows companies to specify exact requirements to the reseller who relays these to AST. The server is then built and configured at AST's plant before shipment back to the reseller. "Normally, servers are shipped in basic form to the reseller who adds components at the buyer's request," explained Steve Crawley, product manager at AST. "But the more a machine is opened up, the greater the risk of faults developing. Build to order means the machine gets to the customer in mint condition." Prices for the Premium KS start at #8,229, the HS costs #5,724, and the lower end Premium GS starts at #2,129. AST claims a market share of just under 2%. Compaq's market share is 43.7%, according to Dataquest. AST: 0990 611 611.
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