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Compaq has introduced a server geared to ecommerce, telecoms and supercomputing environments which it reckons is the industry's most powerful mid-range bit of tin.

The AlphaServer ES45 system includes up to four 1GHz 64-bit Alpha processors, and is available with the Tru64 UNIX with TruCluster Servers, OpenVMS or Linux operating systems.

ES45 systems come with up to four 1 GHz Alpha processors and 32 GB of memory and offer 8 GB per-second bandwidth and 1.85 GB per-second of I/O bandwidth.

Compaq quotes figures from the SPECint_rate2000 integer benchmark, which show that a quad-processor ES45 performs 50 to 75 per cent faster than competitors such as Sun and IBM, and more than twice as fast in the SPECfp_rate2000 floating point performance benchmark. But does this beat the pants off IBM's eight-way p660 Model 6M1, which Big Blue claimed last month was the most powerful mid-range server? We'll leave it to for you to decide.

Compaq has also announced the AlphaServer SC45 system, a scalable, single-image supercomputer model based on the ES45, and the availability of certified configurations based on Tru64 UNIX-based AlphaServer ES45 systems and Oracle9i Real Application Clusters.

To provide evidence that Compaq was keeping its customers on board, despite its agreement to merge with Hewlett-Packard - to say nothing of its decision to offload Alpha development to Intel - Q wheeled out some supercomputer customers to say that all is well.

The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, for example, uses 760 ES45 systems with more than 3,000 Alpha processors integrated into an SC45 system (in the world's largest non-military supercomputer); it is pleased with the system's increased bandwidth and memory access speed. Which is nice.

Compaq has always being strong in technical computing but never achieved the market acceptance to make the most of the technical excellence of its products. Compaq's deal with Intel means that in two years Alpha will be sent to swim with the fishes, and the debate has moved on to what components on Alpha will be re-animated within the Itanic architecture.

The AlphaServer ES45 is already shipping with models starting at $58,000. AlphaServer SC45 systems with a base system of 16 Alpha processors and 16 GB of memory is also available now with prices starting at $899,000. Oracle9i Real Application Clusters will be available from November. ®

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