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Compaq, API announce Alpha cash-plunge

A tale of two chippies -- IA-64 and Alpha

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Alternative 64-bit chip supplier Compaq will announce further investments worth $500 million in its Alpha technology today, The Register has learned.

Some weeks ago, we revealed that The Big Q is to plunge something like $100 million in advertising into the 64-bit Alpha technology early next year. The total amount of investment will be around half a billion US dollars.

Under the terms of the announcement, Alpha Processor Inc (API), will get the rights to use Compaq's Alpha technology in new markets. Samsung and Compaq both have shares in API. The API executives will talk about the copper interconnect technology to be used in future Alpha lines, as well as Samsung's greater role making the microprocessors. Compaq is likely to announce further details of the 1GHz Alpha processor it has in the wings.

According to Compaq analyst Terry Shannon, Compaq will fight shy of telling the world about the deal it has with IBM to produce copper-interconnect Alphas, which we revealed last February. Shannon also thinks that Compaq will hold the line on its existing operating system strategy for the Alpha processor, despite the fact that the companies will devote some of the $500 million to pushing Linux for Alpha.

Geoff Talbot, CFO of API, said at a conference call that his company had acquired a licence to make derivative Alpha CPUs for current and future markets including Internet infrastructure products, network appliances and even low-end systems. Bill Heil, senior Alpha director at Compaq, said that the agreement showed his company's committment to what he described as the leading microprocessor strategy on three operating systems: OpenVMS, Linux and Tru64. It was moving towards binary compatibility. He said: "We have fully funded R&D for EV8 and other Alpha technologies through to EV9 and EV10."

Jesse Lipcon, VP of the Alpha programme, told The Register that Compaq expected to maintain its position as the major shipper of x.86 servers, even after the Merced-Itanium processor shipped. He said: "Compaq will have the best IA-64 based system in the marketplace." Alpha, however, will be positioned as the processor for high end enterprise systems, with IA-64 coming somewhere below that.

Last week, rival HP claimed that Compaq's strategy on both Intel IA-64 and Alpha technology was in disarray. But, as we reported here some time ago, its Wildfire technology will now be released in February. HP claimed Tru64 Unix only held one per cent market share worldwide. As exclusively revealed here in September, Compaq ditched NT for Alpha, and one week later dropped plans to port Win64 to the Alpha microprocessor, despite Microsoft opposition to the plans. ®

See also

HP claims it will trash competitors on IA-64
IBM, Samsung square up for Compaq Alpha contract
compaQ to spend $100 million marketing Alphas
Compaq Wildfire to debut February

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