Compaq gives up Alpha for Itanium

Intel Australia and New Zealand head David Bolt is resisting the opportunity to gloat as Compaq announces it will abandon its 64-bit Alpha processor in favour of Intel's Itanium.

Intel Australia and New Zealand head David Bolt is resisting the opportunity to gloat as Compaq announces it will abandon its 64-bit Alpha processor in favour of Intel’s Itanium. Compaq and Intel announced the dramatic shift in high-end server architecture today. The transition will be complete by 2004. Bolt says rather than score points from Compaq’s move, Intel is “enthusiastic” about it. “It’s commonsense for both companies,” says Bolt, speaking in Auckland. Compaq has engineers who can usefully switch their efforts to Itanium development, he says. The move signals the “coalescing” of the industry around certain architectures, says Bolt. Compaq currently offers high-end servers based on Intel, Alpha and MIPS processor architectures. Compaq boss Michael Capellas says the plan is to standardise on Itanium. "We are definitely looking at a common server architecture down the road," Capellas says. Before the transfer is completed in 2004, Compaq will release its upcoming next-generation Alpha processor known as EV7, while designing and building NonStop Himalaya servers that use MIPS chips, Capellas says. "There will be two more performance increases within that time," he says. Under the nonexclusive, multi-year agreement, Compaq will transfer Alpha tools and engineering resources to Intel, along with granting licences to Compaq's Alpha microprocessor technology and compilers, Capellas says. "This is great for efficiency. It allows everyone to do what they do best, and it allows us to simplify our product line." Itanium has been commercially available for about a month, Intel claiming to have shipped 7000 systems.

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