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Tandem-Digital tango reveals Compaq as puppetmaster

64-bit cross compatibility the idea

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A year ago From The Register No. 72, 7 April 1998 A deal between Tandem and Digital over 64-bit Unix could give clues to the eventual shape of Compaq’s strategy after the US government grants its approval. Tandem is to adopt Digital Unix as its OS for its telecommunications and other market segments. Both Digital and Tandem will now cooperate on a joint cluster technology, with the aim of producing an industry standard solution for the Merced and Alpha architectures. The deal will mean that Tandem will be able to use over 5,000 64-bit DEC Unix applications. Both companies will cross license their existing technologies, although this is merely an academic exercise if Compaq’s takeover of Digital becomes final. Dan Kusnetzky, a director at IDC, was wheeled in to say that the deal will reassure corporate customers that Digital Unix will be a competitor on the Merced platform. According to executives at the company, the move will mean 100 per cent binary code compatibility which will mean that Alpha apps will run on Merced using a single re-compile. Digital claimed that the move meant it was still entirely committed to the Alpha platform, as well as Merced, indicating that behind the scenes, Compaq is pulling strings to make sure that Alpha, as a processor, will continue into the future. The ultimate goal of Compaq is to help corporate customers believe that Unix and Windows NT will work together. But this could prove far trickier than the partners might have us believe, and will depend on whether the design of Merced is kludgy or klean. ®

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