Compaq puts tentative toe into Alpha water – ouch it's Intel

Monet for nothing and your chips for free

A report from a US newsletter has outlined the shape of Compaq’s XP1000 workstations, shortly to be announced there. But sources close to Compaq UK said the company is still vacillating over when, and how, it will unleash the Alpha based systems on the home market. (Is there an If?) A report in the latest issue of Shannon knows Compaq gives chapter and verse on the platform. According to newsletter editor Terry Shannon, the 500MHz boxes – formerly codenamed Monet -- which use the EV6 bus, an Alpha 21264 chip and a low price to boot, are already filtering their way through the distribution channel. But here in the UK, the speed of their movement in the channel could be measured in microns rather than miles per hour. Sources close to Compaq told us last week that prices are likely to compete with workstations using Intel’s Xeon technology, putting more pressure on the chip giant to lower prices on its (rather expensive) top end parts. Shannon said yesterday that the boxes will come with a 4Mb of external level three cache, two 64-bit PCI slots, and one PCI/ISA 32-bit combo slot. There is a total of six storage bays, plus onboard Ultra SCSI, SoundBlaster support, 10/100 Fast Ethernet and the other bits and bobs people expect these days. The newsletter claims that the workstations, which have blazing throughput speeds, will come in the usual Personal Workstation package. Readers of The Register will remember from our many stories last year that Eckhard Pfeiffer, Compaq’s CEO, apparently faces a dilemma on whether to push Alpha hard or not. While the Gartner Group thinks the Alpha platform is only a short term measure, Pfeiffer is not so sure. He has many contacts from Texas which he is still cultivating...and then there’s AMD and Samsung too... There are other, channel dilemmas. Although Compaq UK told us last year that the overlap between Compaq workstation distributors and Digital workstation distributors are slight, we have reason to know differently. The coming weeks are likely to herald a battle royal on the channel front. But then, it were ever thus... ® Register EckFact .22 micron. Eckhard Pfeiffer continually worries about the return on investment -- ROI for short. Go here to see what he might say if he talked to us these days...

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