File compression programs are fine (see Double Your Pleasure in this issue), but they suffer from slow speed and non-transparent (opaque?) operation. A new board for PC-clones will solve that problem by providing hardware data compression that can reduce file size an average of three times. InfoChip, a startup company in Santa Clara, California, hopes to have the first version of its board ready this spring. The $199 Expanz card intercepts all reads and writes and performs real-time compression and decompression. Since the board is faster than the storage devices, no slowdown will be noticed. Instead, disk accesses will be an average of three times as fast because an average of three times less data will be moving back and forth.
Expanz works with all forms of storage devices, but defaults to leaving files on removable media (such as floppy disks and removable cartridges) uncompressed because many people use them for file transfer to other machines that might not be equipped with an Expanz board. A final plus is that the compression routines are totally reliable, which allows the board to compress binary application files that cannot tolerate the loss of even one bit.
A total of 65 companies, including IBM, are considering using Expanz technology on the motherboards of future computers. No mention of Apple or a third-party Macintosh manufacturer was made, although it seems unlikely that the technology is limited to the PC. Such technology will not stop the lust for larger hard disks, but it should temporarily slow down the race for yet larger hard disks.
InfoChip Systems -- 408/727-0514
InfoWorld -- 30-Apr-90, Vol. 12, #18, pg. 1, 23
PC WEEK -- 30-Apr-90, Vol. 7, #17, pg. 13