Tru64 tweaks come with intro of 1GHz Alpha

Launch eclipsed by first Itanic box from Compaq

server room

Compaq has begun shipping a 1GHz version of its Alpha EV68 processor in its GS series of AlphaServers.

The widely-anticipated introduction to the market of 1GHz copper-whoppers from Big Q is accompanied by enhancements to Tru64 Unix that allow the operating system that allow users the ability to mix 64-bit CPU speeds within a single system.

Improved workload management and support for online add-and-replacement of processors has also been added. Compaq also said that its low-end AlphaServer DS Series systems would now be available with an 833 MHz, 64-bit Alpha part.

If you forget that Compaq's deal with Intel means that Alpha will be sent to swim with the fishes in two years time, it all looks like good stuff for Compaq's technical computing customers, of which there are many including the people who cracked the human genome on Alpha boxes.

In the more mainstream enterprise space, Compaq announced a lower cost for a certified configuration that delivers an AlphaServer ES40 Tru64 Unix cluster running Oracle9i Real Applications Clusters (RAC).

Again this is attractive but for all the talk of investment protection from Compaq, we have to point out that Big Q is asking customers to buy into a technology that the firm itself is abandoning in order to jump aboard the good ship Itanic.

The Alpha enhancements seem like the microprocessor equivalent of adding an extension to the Millennium Dome, and this sentiment - and not the blazingly fast performance of the processor (TPC-C benchmarks of 230,533 transactions per minute) - is likely to be what really counts in the market.

We're sure this is a point IBM sales reps, who we understand are in the process of trying to pinch supercomputing business from Compaq, will doubtless be making.

For the record the 1GHz Alpha chip, which is made using a 0.18-micron copper manufacturing process, is now available for eight-way AlphaServer GS80, 16-way GS160 and 32-way GS320 machines. GS80 systems start at $95,000, while an entry level GS160 will set you back $255,000 and AlphaServer GS320 systems start at $565,000. AlphaServer DS Series systems with the 833 MHz Alpha processor start at $15,400.

Of far greater significance to Compaq in the future is its announcement of its first server based on Intel's Itanium processor, the ProLiant DL590/64. Of course these are just for development but a line from the press release that the servers "will also be a critical platform for accelerating the porting of Compaq Tru64 UNIX, OpenVMS and NonStop Kernel environments to Itanium", shows you which way the wind is blowing. ®

External Links

Compaq blazes trail with first 64-Bit ProLiant server
Compaq ships AlphaServer systems with industry's first 64-Bit, 1 GHz processor

Related stories:
Orphans of Compaq's Alphacide bolt for the exit
Compaq Itanic strategy replacing 'Porsche with a Yugo' say users
Don Capellas justifies Compaq Alphacide
Farewell then, Alpha - Hello, Compaq the Box Shifter
Alpha chip powers Celera genome burst

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