The term "fast" does not adequately describe the Evolution Dual6 system from Advanced Logic Research (ALR)-- "blazingly fast" is a more apt description. Sporting dual Pentium Pro processors running at 200 MHz, the Evolution Dual6 is the fastest Intel-based general-purpose workstation to come through the Windows NT Magazine Lab. In fact, the Evolution Dual6 can even compete with many low-end (but higher-priced) RISC workstations.

The Evolution Dual6 owes much of its performance advantage to the Pentium Pro processor. This Intel processor is the first designed for 32-bit operating systems and applications, and it brings out the best in Windows NT. Because the Evolution Dual6 is a multiprocessor Pentium Pro system, it extends the power of multiple Pentium Pro processors into the Windows NT symmetrical multiprocessing (SMP) environment. To its credit, ALR is one of few vendors that currently offer a multiprocessor Pentium Pro system.

The design of this ALR system lets you configure and purchase the system to address your current needs and then expand it as your needs change. The Evolution Dual6 features two Zero-Insertion Force (ZIF) processor sockets, so you can buy one processor now and add another later. The system board has an adjustable bus speed that you can set to either 60 or 66.66 MHz, giving you a choice of 150-, 180-, or 200-MHz Pentium Pro processors. For a dual-processor configuration, both processors must be running at the same clock speed. The system cache is embedded in the processor chip, and each processor has 16KB Level 1 cache and 256KB Level 2 cache. The Evolution Dual6's main memory includes eight SIMM sockets that can support anything from 8MB to 512MB of RAM.

The Evolution Dual6 system board has one parallel port, two serial ports, a PS/2-style mouse port, a keyboard port, and two Enhanced IDE controllers. Three ISA slots, three PCI slots, and one shared ISA/PCI slot accommodate further expansion. The system board also has a hardware management microcontroller. This microcontroller gets information from other monitoring devices in the system and reports the results to ALR's Hardware InfoManager software. You can monitor the temperature inside the chassis and of each CPU, cooling fan speeds, and system voltage levels.

The Evolution Dual6's chassis is also noteworthy. Its interior is conveniently laid out, with all drive bays, memory banks, CPUs, and expansion slots easily accessible. The chassis supports six total drive bays: Three are half-height, external 5.25" bays, and three are third-height 3.50" bays (one external and two internal). A 3.50" floppy drive usually occupies the external 3.50" bay. One internal 3.50" bay is at the rear of the chassis and is accessible through a rear-panel access door that you can open without removing the chassis cover. The Evolution Dual6 chassis also features a keyboard inhibitor switch that you can press to prevent people from tampering with your system. A sliding cover on the front of the chassis can slide up to cover the drives and the keyboard inhibitor switch. Locking this cover into place can prevent most attempts to interfere with the system.

A warranty backs the Evolution Dual6, covering the chassis, keyboard, CPU(s), system board, and power supply for five years, the monitor for one year, and all other peripherals for three years. Labor is included for the first three years. For a $10 registration fee, you can obtain one year of onsite service.

Our test system came with 32MB of RAM, a 1GB IDE drive, and an IDE 4X CD-ROM. For the display, the Evolution Dual6 usually comes with a Diamond Stealth 64 PCI card, with 2MB standard. However, our system came with a 4MB video card and a sharp 17" monitor, manufactured by MAG Technologies. The system documentation is comprehensive and well organized. Our only disappointment with this system was its IDE hard drive and CD-ROM--a workstation of this caliber deserves a faster SCSI-based drive and CD-ROM. Of course, you can easily remedy this flaw by adding SCSI devices.

The ALR Evolution Dual6 system's BAPCo SYSmark scores and results from Windows NT Magazine's other benchmarks (see the sidebar, "Buy the Numbers," on page 69) show that the Pentium Pro processor raises the bar on the level of performance you can expect from Intel-based workstations--without a disproportionate rise in the price tag. Clearly, the Evolution Dual6 is an example of an Intel system that can take you places only RISC systems could take you before.

Contact Info
Advanced Logic Research 800-444-4257 or 714-458-0863
Price (as configured): $9382 including monitor, $7382 with 1 processor