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Wildfire scales like hell as AMD, CPQ shares stand equal

They're big boxes aimed at HP, IBM and Sun. Can the DEC chip cut it?

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Roadmap A strange coincidence happened at the close of Wall Street on Friday. Both AMD's and Compaq's share prices stood at 18 11/16. While practically all technology stocks fell somewhat during the course of last week, AMD is on uppers (no, not its uppers), while Compaq is on downers. When the bell tolls for the close of trading tomorrow night, the Big Q is expected to report rather poor results. Meanwhile, analysts are telling investors to buy AMD stock. Despite Q's travails through 1999, the company is, however, pushing on with its Big Box plans and we have now had a glimpse of the future AlphaServer roadmap using its much vaunted WildFire product line. Already somewhat delayed, Q is close to pushing these boxes into existence and, on paper at least, the spex are impressive. We reported a week or two back on Q's rather impressive EV8 technology, and Wildfire will scale from the EV7 architecture to that .125 micron when the ex-DEC silicon begins to sing. Q is positioning its Wildfire servers as a modular architecture based on quad building blocks. The 730MHz parts, delivering 1.4Gflops, will use four memory arrays of 16Gb, and have a total of 28 PCI slots. Its so-called global switch has eight ports, and manages to preserve its SMP programming model combining up to eight of these quad building blocks. Q will claim some impressive performance figures. We've seen figures of a 400 per cent performance improvement from GS140 to 32-way Wildfire, which may rise to 500 per cent under some circumstances. Up to 32 CPUs can be included in one three bay cabinet and you will be able to string other EV7 boxes into the loop for heavy duty symmetric multiprocessing. Up to 1,000 Alphas can be clustered together. How about software? Our information is that the Wildfire platform is binary compatible with Tru64 Unix and Open VMS so there is no recompilation required. It also includes so called "Lights Out" operations, which will allow a system autostart if there is a failure, as well as remote system console facilities. Q is also promising to cut the price of storage and support by between 50 per cent and 90 per cent, and an ability to replicate OSes across the cluster using only one installation. The competitive target for this roadmap is, of course, those usual suspects Sun, IBM and HP. When Q's results are delivered by its new CEO Michael Capellas at close of play tomorrow, it will be interesting to see if he has anything to say about how well the sales team has done against its opposition. ®

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