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Wildfire takes aim at Intel, Sun, IBM, HP's server pants

Meanwhile, FTC lets Compaq off AMD fabbing hook

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Mike Capellas and his merry band of Compaq executives (sans Enrico Pesatori) will roll out their GS series tomorrow afternoon, but in the meantime, details have emerged about what we can expect at the Wildfire jamboree.

In the latest issue of his newsletter, Shannon knows Compaq, editor and publisher Terry Shannon, who has specialised in the DEC and Compaq markets for many a year now, has previewed the announcement.

Shannon believes that the introduction of the codename formerly known as Wildfire will give not only Unix players HP, IBM and Sun a considerable kicking, but also poses questions about Intel's IA-64 architecture, in particular the Itanium platform, which arrives sometime between 1 June and 31 December (we're going for nearer the latter than the former).

According to Shannon, Compaq has paid because of its delay in delivering Alpha, with sales of its GS60 and GS140 Turbolaser platforms plunging. Meanwhile, he says, Sun and IBM have made hay with their UE10K StarFire and RS/6000 S80 "Condor" systems.

That is likely to change, he says. The Wildfire boxes come in three types - the GS80, the GS160 and the GS320 -- respectively one- to eight-way, one- to 16-way and one to 32 CPU server systems with an upgrade path. The offerings will target HP's V2600, IBM's S80, and Sun's UE10000 machines. Markets for these boxes are e-commerce, telecomms, finance, biz intelligence and high performance technical markets.

Although we won't get prices for Wildfire system until tomorrow (The Register will be attending the London simultaneous announcement), SKC thinks that a minimally configured entry level GS80 is likely to be less than $100,000. Minimally configures GS160s and GS320s will cost around $250,000 and $600,000 respectively, he thinks.

There are now 100 Wildfire systems up and running and there will soon be 200, Shannon says, amounting to revenues for Compaq during 2000 of around $1 billion. Sun will shiver because the performance of these machines are likely to be compelling to corporate customers, he thinks, and have an upgrade path. Sun's Serengeti, not yet released, is more than likely to be a complete box switch.

Meanwhile, Shannon also takes an in-depth look at the Alpha versus Itanium systems creeping out in the second half of this year. In passing, he also notes that the FTC, earlier this month, have dropped a requirement that Compaq license the Alpha chip to a third party. He says that decision, by a five to one vote, means AMD "or another licensee" will not now have to fab the Alpha. IBM and Intel are already doing so.

Alpha based systems have made considerable inroads into the high performance technical computing performance market over the last three months, Shannon points out, even without its Wildfire tin, and he cites a long list of customers including the French Atomic Energy Commission, Celera Genomics, the NOAA's Forecast Systems Laboratory in Boulders, the Technical University in Denmark, the Helsinki University of Technology, and the University of Western Ontario.

There will be complete coverage of the Wildfire announcement tomorrow afternoon in The Register, as it happens. ®

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