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IBM, Samsung square up for Compaq Alpha contract

And Samsung's getting into the Athlon mobo biz, too

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Samsung and IBM Microelectronics have emerged as the front-runners -- nay, the only runners -- in the bid to supply The Big Q with the next version of the Alpha CPU. Alpha is currently at version EV6, as supplied to Compaq by Samsung. The Korean giant reckons it can get EV7 sampling by next July and into volume production by Q3 2000. If Samsung's bid is based on speed of delivery, IBM's centres on the incorporation of the company's own copper interconnect technology -- and possibly Silicon-on-Insulator (SOI), too -- into the EV7, according to a Big Blue spokesman cited by Electronics Buyer's News. Samsung's rejoinder is that it plans to use copper and SOI too, and integrate L2 cache and memory controller onto the die, and by 2001 get the chip out using a 0.13 micron process. According to Samsung, the Alpha market will be worth some $100 million by the end of the year, rising to $140 million next year. Big money by our standards, yes, but hardly colossal in the CPU business' terms. Samsung also told EBN that it plans to break into the Alpha EV6 mobo and chipset market with a single-CPU chipset codenamed Caspian in Q3 (sampling in March) and Tasman, a four to eight-way server chipset, sometime in 2001. The clever part is that Samsung will use Caspian to get into the x86 market, by supporting AMD's Athlon, which uses the same bus as the Alpha EV6, in the same chipset. Curiously, given Samsung's desire to drive the Rambus market, Caspian will not support that memory technology, only PC133 and DDR SDRAM. ®

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