Compaq Wildfire to debut February 2000

Platform will eventually scale to 512 CPUs

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Reliable sources close to Compaq's plans have said that the company's Wildfire clustering and server technology will be introduced in February of next year. The introduction of the system has been delayed for quite a while, but in recent weeks, Compaq has shown demonstrations of the high end platform both at the Telecoms show in Geneva and more recently at its US Decus event. The source, who declined to be identified by name, claimed that the benchmarks her company had compiled showed that the box offered a serious challenge to its competitors, including Sun Microsystems, in both price and performance. She added that there was no danger whatever of Compaq ceding victory to Intel, in the chip war, and pointed out that an agreement brokered by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ensured that Alpha processors would be made by the chip giant for 10 years. The source added that she was surprised Intel got so much publicity for its up-and-coming IA-64 (Merced-Itanic) platform, given that the first systems to be released, in June next year, would not offer anything like the performance of the Alpha processor and would not even be able to compete on price. Large corporations would buy Merced machines but only as an evaluation platform initially, she said. There would be no volume sales of Merced for most of next year. She said that most Compaq customers were now satisfied with the company's decision to drop support for Windows NT for the Alpha processor. While she agreed that in some respects it was a shame, it was likely that NT would take some time before it could scale to the 24-way, 48-way, 96-way and eventually 512-way CPU WildFire systems Compaq is developing. Sun, she claimed, was already very late with the development of its UltraSparc processor and we were unlikely to see new systems from the company until the end of next year. The source also suggested that cooperation between itself and AMD on Slot B technology was still on track, and that IBM would, indeed, fab Alphas using copper interconnect technology at some time in the future. ®

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