31st > January > 1999 Archive

The Register breaking news

Alpha pricing could cut Intel's throat

Information shown to The Register reveals that the Alpha partnership has more aggressive pricing plans for the 64-bit chip than first realised. Last week we wrote that 21164A 533MHz Alpha CPUs cost $250 in quantity but an informed source has revealed that the price is nearer to $180 when ordered in volume. (Stories: Dell using Alpha chips in servers and Intel's Merced undercut by Compaq's Alpha) And Alpha pricing details for the rest of this quarter show that pricing will be highly aggressive. The source, who declined to be named, said that currently motherboards are a lot more expensive than the CPUs themselves, partly because of the high amount of cache on board but also because a typically large run of an Alpha motherboard is no more than 5,000 or so. Details of Samsung's pricing for Alphas in this quarter are as follows, we can reveal. The 21164A CPU costs $250 for the 533MHz part, $684 for the 600MHz part, $1,080 for the 633MHz part, and $1,800 for the 667MHz part. The LX2 motherboard currently costs $680, the LX4 $1,000, the UX2 board $600 and a UX4 $750. A SMB 264DP2-500 21264 with a 500MHz motheboard and a 2Mb daughtercard will cost $5,350, while a SMB 264DC2-500 21264 with 500MHz daughtercard only with 2Mb cache costs $2,643. Our source said that the low water mark for the LX2 and 533MHz processor happened last year between April to June, when Samsung and DEC OEM had a price war. He claimed that DEC was dumping stock because of the upcoming merger with Compaq and the impending death of the Digital Semi group. Then, prices were as low as $700 for 100 piece orders. The 800MHz processors are, however, likely to fall to below $250 when the .25 micron processor ramps up later this year, although the source said that price was by no means certain because the suppliers "charge what the market will bear". However, Alpha OEMs are continuing to build reasonably priced systems, compared with the Wintel opposition, he claimed, with a typical UX2 system with 256Mb, onboard UCSCSI, 10/100 Ethernet, an 8Mb Matrox G200, a 4.5Gb SCSI disk, CD ROM and the rest having an end user price of $2,350. Now the question remains whether Compaq will put its muscle behind Alpha systems, possibly running Linux, which offer more price/performance than Wintel systems. ®
Mike Magee, 31 Jan 1999
The Register breaking news

Compaq to unveil Tru64 Unix plans tomorrow

Tomorrow, The Register will tip up at Digital's old offices at 190 High Holborn to hear about Compaq's solutions for the enterprise. But even though we have seen the NDA slides already, it won't be a futile exercise as we're already well-briefed and so can ask some informed questions. (NB We don't sign NDAs here) As exclusively revealed in Terry Shannon's insider newsletter Shannon knows Compaq and also revealed on the Web in The Register a month since, D/UX will be renamed Tru64 Unix. Compaq will announce its strategic objectives for Unix in the enterprises, including products, its solutions and how it will market them. It will also announce its TruCluster software V1.6, how it is uniting Windows NT and Unix, and ways in which it will seek to keep the Tandem strategy on track. Tru64 Unix, according to Compaq, will be aimed at both the Alpha and IA64 platforms, while the Tandem Integrity series for Telecom S Series will use Integrity XC -- ProLiant based ENS platforms. It will announce a partnership with SCO for the SMB market, consisting of OpenServer and Unixware. Compaq will claim it has nearly 6,000 optimised 64-bit apps running on Tru64 Unix now, while ISVs have ported 1,000 more over the last year. Part of its plans to grow market share will be to provide interoperability with Unix and Windows NT, with the former aimed at production systems, NT aimed at desktops, and its own Unix/NT solution at the cloudy bit -- application servers -- in the middle. Compaq will claim it is increasing its investment in the Unix part of its business by providing worldwide support and integration services using a base of 3,000 Unix engineers. It will wheel out several corporate customers to back up its claims that Alpha Server based systems are the way to go in the future. An executive from a German company will claim that Alpha is the best R/3 platform in the market because of its combination of a 64-bit CPU and 64-bit OS. It will say D/UX -- sorry Tru64 on Alpha -- provides a proper 64-bit environment. But Compaq will hedge its bets over whether Alpha or Merced is the better architecture, by saying it will provide a single source compatible Unix across both Alpha and Merced systems. Tandem will include Alpha and Tru64 Unix into its NonStop Integrity line, which will include both so-called NonStop clusters and TruCluster software as the means of integration. Version 5.x of Tru64, available next year, will provide application partitioning, high end Alpha symmetric multiprocessing (SMP), and integrated TruCluster and NonStop clustering. Version 5.0 of Tru64, available this year, will provide 10Tb of storage, 286Gb support, multipath I/O, and 4B UID/GID. To market its roadmap, Compaq will announce something it calls AirCover, including a channel franchise ESP programme, Alpha/Unix drivers, solution competence centres, and a worldwide Unix "Ambassador" programme, together with global account teams. On the Tandem side, it will announce two "Integrity Servers" -- the Integrity S Series providing a claimed 99.9999 per cent availability and ProLiant clusters in its Integrity XC series which only seem to provide 99.999 per cent. What is the significance of that extra .9, we wonder? Does it mean the Integrity XC will disappear? Compaq says it is committed to the Integrity XC so that means maybe it won't. But Compaq is avoiding the thorny issue of Alpha vs Merced tomorrow. Intel has stated it will have production samples available for OEMs in June, and ship the product on target for June next year. If Eckhard Pfeiffer, Compaq's CEO, actually bites the bullet and gives the Alpha platform his overwhelming support, what will Intel do? And, given the significance of the Compaq-Tandem-DEC announcements above, what on earth would Compaq need Intel's Merced for? ® Related Stories Alpha pricing could cut Intel's throat Alpha Linux plans emerge SCO ducks as Compaq lets fly Compaq to go product mad within three weeks When all the D/UX are 32 bit we'll have the new name Microsoft and Compaq agree on NT/DUX integration Compaq boots 64-bit NT on Alpha server
Mike Magee, 31 Jan 1999
The Register breaking news

Willamette not teacher's pet

You've got to watch those pesky guys at Intel, y'know. The Pentium III with Screaming Cindy instructions now arrives earlier than anticipated, requiring all independent software vendors to re-write for it from "the ground up", and meanwhile a "new" IA-32 architecture is promised with the introduction of Willamette. (ye storie: Intel brings PIII launch forward) But when will Willamette appear? One rumour is along the lines that Intel will bring it forward from its end of Q4 in a bid to spanner AMD's K7, while another rumour says it is delayed. We know one thing for sure. It is a "new implementation" of the IA-32 architecture. Does the world need one of these? Does that mean it is the P7, long ago promised by Intel? Or the P8, or maybe even the P9? Here, in my little cave in Knaresborough, Yorkshire, my crystal ball is a tad cloudy after all these years being dead, but I see in the future not just Willamette, but cheap Alphas and the shared motherboards that they will have with AMD's K7 muddying Intel's waters. We suspect even as we gaze that AMD has a list of processors that it is showing a number of vendors about the level of production it will have by year end. First silicon is already rolling off Dresden's Fab 30, and we know that Dell is already OEMing Alpha filers for its customers. By year-end, AMD will have copper whopper .18 micron technology well under its belt and a string of OEMs to boot, according to the tea-leaves. Eck Pfeiffer and his mob will be pushing very fast Alpha machines as fast as they can sell'em, and who will want Willamette when it arrives, given that K7 copper whoppers will be dirt cheap by then. And what of MIPS and PA-RISC? How does old Hewlett Packard feel about developments in Chiplandia? Why would SGI, for instance, want to adopt a Willamette solution? These questions are tricky even for old Mother Shipton to answer but even though Merced may be on time, methinks that no-one might want it at its very high price, especially since 64-bit NT also works on the Alpha platform. And so, finally, we come to the slur that Intel put on me and my cave last week. Being somewhat petrified myself, as I was born in 1488, I have to refute the suggestion that the artefacts hanging outside my cave are fakes. If they're phony, I'm phony. And as I predicted the invention of motor cars, the telegraph and the end of the world in 1999, what right has johnny come lately Intel to put me down? ®
Mother Shipton, 31 Jan 1999
The Register breaking news

Intel brings Pentium III launch forward

Updated Updated Tweedledum and Tweedledee Agreed to have a battle; For Tweedledum said Tweedledee Had spoiled his nice new rattle. Just then flew down a monstrous crow, As black as a tar-barrel; Which frightened both the heroes so, They quite forgot their quarrel. Illustration by John Tenniel from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. If …
Mike Magee, 31 Jan 1999
The Register breaking news

Intel causes furore over Slot One re-box

Hardware sites around the world are reporting that Intel has reboxed its OEM Slot One packages and are now re-selling them as retail products. Many see that as Intel pulling a fast one. According to CPU Central, Slot One 300As, with the part name SL2WM are now being sold via retail outlets. The box and documentation, claims the site, look similar to retail package SL32A but do not have the same core. Intel's own site is showing the information at this page. One angry consumer who wrote to The Register said: "This is totally outrageous since the OEM version cost almost half of the Retail one. What's even more unbelievable is that they didn't even bother to attach the heatsink/fan to the CPU, they just threw it into the box. "They did not mention anything on their front page and I only found out from two hardware sites and a few posts on the newsgroups. I just ordered two Retail versions on the 29th, which supposedly was the day they updated their webpage to reflect the change. "I of course did not know at the moment and I doubt the resellers did either. They are definitely going back if they turn out to be the OEM ones." As it's Sunday, Intel was not available for comment. We'll do a follow-up tomorrow. ® Related Stories Faster Celerons released faster Intel and whole world confused over Celeron Slot One direction Cyrix claims Intel dumping Slot One Celerons
Mike Magee, 31 Jan 1999