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Compaq details Wildfire attack on Sun

Three OS to run on one Alpha box

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An all-out battle between Sun and Compaq at the high end is set for later this year, with Sequent also likely to attract some of the flak from Alpha's Puma technology. Richard George, Alpha server product manager at Compaq UK, confirmed Wildfire was set to arrive towards the end of this year. (See stories: High end Alpha spreads like Wildfire and Alpha chip to clock 1.4GHz in copper) He said: "We'll produce Wildfire towards the end of the year in a 16-box configuration using EV67. It will scale to in excess of 120 CPUs using our Puma architecture. "In performance and price terms, it will knock the [Sun] Ultra 10000 out of the picture. This box is inexpensive." He said: "The order book is already filling up very nicely." George said that Wildfire will include several types of partioning. "Sun promotes its cluster-in-a-box technology but you put all your eggs in one basket," he said. "The system will let you cluster boxes, theoretically up to 1,000." He said Compaq was aiming to knock Sun off its high-end spot with Wildfire. "We're going after the Internet market and the data warehousing market," he said. "The latency between two quads over the switch is two nanoseconds, and as you add additional quad boxes, the rate never gets slower than 10 nanoseconds," he added. Meanwhile, sources close to Sequent suggested that its figures for connecting quad systems seemed to be in the order of 10 nanoseconds between two quads and 100 nanoseconds as additional quads are bolted on. George said Compaq could now run three operating systems -- Unix, NT and VMS -- on the same box simultaneously, which will also attack Sun's market share. "We've demonstrated this and now we've got to productise it," he said. That technology is about 18 months to two years away. At press time, Sun had made no contact. All of this suggests that Intel's Merced and McKinley projects may be a long away from competing with any of these products. ®

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