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Samsung greases the Alpha skids

Which is just as well...

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Compaq doesn't exactly indulge in willy-waving at the annual Microprocessor Forum. Last year, this scribe hunted high and low for the Alpha team, tracked them down in their hotel room at the Fairmont, and discovered they had one of the showstoppers in their SMT, "SMP on a chip" plans.

This year Q appeared to be equally invisible to the marauding press corps, and it was left to Samsung's design lead Sung Bae Park to provide the red meat. But read on, for very interesting it is too.

Samsung's Alpha 21264E promises a real world speed-bump of 30pc, said Park. The 21264E moves the Level 2 cache onto the chip. It'll be a 1.25Ghz part with a 64k cache with that 8Mb 14-way L2 cache, built on .18 micron process. SOI takes future versions beyond 1.5Ghz, and the in three years, Alphas will incorporate copper and run off .13 micron processes.

Compaq and Samsung have been pretty conservative about getting into the silly megahertz games, and with good reason. But on terms of bandwidth alone, the Alpha engineers ought to earn some bragging rights. Park said that the internal bandwidth should exceed 13Gbytes at 1.25Ghz frequencies. It also has a sophisticated, seven stage cache coherency protocols, deploying three L2 cache controllers and has 128Mb of L3 cache available. But remember that with Alpha, all memory talks to all other memory. And it works.

Q's golf course-calibre execs in their wisdom seem to have mandated that the company doesn't brag about its technology - a "flaw" often laid at DEC's door. But from where we sit, the Alpha and Galaxy engineers are not only keep Compaq at the top of the game, but contribute more than anyone else to keeping that lucrative DEC customer base loyal. Isn't it time they took some credit? ®

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