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Intel is forced, through the might of the United States government, to make Alpha chips for its customer Compaq for perpetuity. Well, not quite perpetuity, but in chip terms, 10 years is equivalent to 1,000 years of software. When the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) took its mighty finger and wagged it severely at Intel a few years back for stifling competition in the US microprocessor market, it decreed that other companies should also make Alpha processors so that never, ever again would the giant stomp all over its competition. Compaq (which now has the Digital mantle) told us the other day for sure that IBM would fab out the Alpha, ending a whole year's discussion on the matter. It also told us that a fourth non-Intel firm would fab Alphas. That fourth non-Intel firm is AMD, we now learn. According to a source which has Jerry Sanders' ear: "AMD is dreaming of a day when a box rolls off its lines and the last thing you decide is whether you want it to be an Alpha or an Athlon. "They're already using Alpha's bus architecture (responsible for a fair portion of their performance lead over Intel's x86) and the only real sticking point in the deal now is memory: A 128 Mb memory module for an Alpha runs at $1,500. "Compaq is soon to give up the margin on these, and/or allow lower quality DIMMs (non-CL1, non-parity, non-EEC) into their boxes. AMD is looking to sweeten the pot by "at least $100 million" to make it worth Compaq's time. Robert Palmer, who older readers of The Reg will remember was DEC's CEO and described as he of the walk in wardrobe, is an executive on AMD's board. ®

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