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Big Q (Compaq) terribly coy about Alpha Wildfire

Fixed costs gone, roadmaps roll ahead

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How interesting Compaq can get about its relationship with Intel, and how ever more interesting it is that the Alpha seems getting in the way, or finding itself the subject of, practically any conversation. We've written so much about Wildfire over the last eighteen months, helped out by Terry Shannon at Shannon knows Compaq, that we were pleasantly surprised to hear the official launch hadn't happened yet. Here we must invoke Michael Johnston, general manager of Compaq's server platform business in the UK, who said: "Wildfire is almost there -- it's exciting technology". Johnston was clear about the future of Alpha, as far as The Big Q was concerned. "The fixed cost of Alpha is just R&D (research and development)," he said. "Between us and Samsung we've put half a billion into this business. It's not something that's going away". The roadmap will head into 2010 at least, he said, because of the commitment Compaq has to moving the Alpha to the Himalaya platform. And Samsung, through joint venture API, will indeed cut out some of the elements of the current Alpha microprocessor and produce a games platform very soon now, said Johnston. Will Compaq introduce an Alpha OEM platform again, like Digital used to do in the good old days? Johnston was nonplussed by this -- suggesting that people could source their Alphas through Samsung -- but said he'd look into it. He also confirmed IBM will fab Alpha microprocessors, and said a fourth company was set to fab out the chips too. Now who could that be? Motorola? AMD? ® * All the Q execs were nonplussed by an ad we passed round from today's Financial Times which seemed to suggest that Compaq was powering the Vatican. Sources said the ads were booked from Munich, in deepest Catholic Germany....

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