HP unveils the last, big Alpha box

Era ending

Cat 5 cable

The time has come for friends of DEC and Compaq to give a final tip of the cap to the AlphaServer.

The 64-processor AlphaServer GS1280 introduced by HP on Monday is the last new Alpha box ever to arrive. The system, running on EV7 processors, doubles the size of the previous 32-processor GS1280. The server will be upgraded with the EV79 processors in 2004, but the box itself has met a rather deflated end.

After a good run as one the fastest 64bit processors around, Alpha was actually first "phased out" by Michael Capellas. The then Compaq chief committed Alphacide, reasoning that the cost of designing a processor was not worth the relatively low volumes of the Alpha systems. In its placed, Compaq decided to go with Intel's Itanium chip and said that much of the Alpha goodness would live on in the Itanic. True to its word, Compaq shipped its IP and engineers off to Intel.

Quite comically, Itanium has stepped in to replace Alpha as yet another slow selling 64bit chip. In fact, the Itanic is the slowest selling 64bit chip around with but 3,000 server sales during its best quarter - ever. Intel has a man named Mr. Tanglewood busy working to fix this problem.

While HP is asking Alpha customers to board the Itanic over time, it's also providing some near term benefits to the DEC/Compaq faithful.

Along with the new server, HP has released the Tru64 Unix 5.1B-s and OpenVMS 7.3-2 operating systems. The latest versions of the OSes are tuned for the 64-processor box and have some I/O, memory interconnect and partitioning improvements. OpenVMS will live on as a choice for Itanium, but the good bits of Tru64 are being gutted and tossed into HP-UX.

HP also released the one-processor AlphaServer DS15 system for customers who don't need a hulking SMP. ®

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