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Alpha pricing could cut Intel's throat

Pricing details show Compaq can hurt Intel if it wants

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Information shown to The Register reveals that the Alpha partnership has more aggressive pricing plans for the 64-bit chip than first realised. Last week we wrote that 21164A 533MHz Alpha CPUs cost $250 in quantity but an informed source has revealed that the price is nearer to $180 when ordered in volume. (Stories: Dell using Alpha chips in servers and Intel's Merced undercut by Compaq's Alpha) And Alpha pricing details for the rest of this quarter show that pricing will be highly aggressive. The source, who declined to be named, said that currently motherboards are a lot more expensive than the CPUs themselves, partly because of the high amount of cache on board but also because a typically large run of an Alpha motherboard is no more than 5,000 or so. Details of Samsung's pricing for Alphas in this quarter are as follows, we can reveal. The 21164A CPU costs $250 for the 533MHz part, $684 for the 600MHz part, $1,080 for the 633MHz part, and $1,800 for the 667MHz part. The LX2 motherboard currently costs $680, the LX4 $1,000, the UX2 board $600 and a UX4 $750. A SMB 264DP2-500 21264 with a 500MHz motheboard and a 2Mb daughtercard will cost $5,350, while a SMB 264DC2-500 21264 with 500MHz daughtercard only with 2Mb cache costs $2,643. Our source said that the low water mark for the LX2 and 533MHz processor happened last year between April to June, when Samsung and DEC OEM had a price war. He claimed that DEC was dumping stock because of the upcoming merger with Compaq and the impending death of the Digital Semi group. Then, prices were as low as $700 for 100 piece orders. The 800MHz processors are, however, likely to fall to below $250 when the .25 micron processor ramps up later this year, although the source said that price was by no means certain because the suppliers "charge what the market will bear". However, Alpha OEMs are continuing to build reasonably priced systems, compared with the Wintel opposition, he claimed, with a typical UX2 system with 256Mb, onboard UCSCSI, 10/100 Ethernet, an 8Mb Matrox G200, a 4.5Gb SCSI disk, CD ROM and the rest having an end user price of $2,350. Now the question remains whether Compaq will put its muscle behind Alpha systems, possibly running Linux, which offer more price/performance than Wintel systems. ®

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