Major players in the PC industry are to work together to set a standard for clustering to avoid squabbles as the technology moves nearer.
The companies that have agreed to sit round a table and start talking include Microsoft, IBM, Compaq, Hewlett Packard, Digital, SCO and Novell.
They will work on a committee called the Hot Plug PCI Workgroup, which will be part of the PCI Special Interest Group.
IBM is on record as saying that operating systems and applications will have to be re-written unless there is agreement on a clustering standard.
As clustering is expected to take off in 1998, that would lead to an impossibly short time scale to make any changes, said Tikiri Wanduragala, server product manager for EMEA at IBM in Europe.
But the initial meeting of the putative standards committee is unlikely to make much headway on solving these problems.
The vendors will meet to discuss hot-pluggable cards - also known as hot-swappable PCI cards. This component is key to the clustering technology that all the major vendors want to introduce next year.
Although there is still debate in the industry about whether clustering will win the battle against SMP systems, every major manufacturer is being forced to take an interest in clustering technology.
There had been fears that Microsoft and Digital would corner the clustering market by imposing a standard that others would be forced to follow, but that no longer appears to be the case.
According to a US report, Compaq executive John Thompson, the chairman of the committee, hopes agreement will be reached on this component by the end of the year.
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