Compaq commits to Alpha

Compaq Computer is throwing its weight behind the Alpha processor it acquired with its purchase of Digital - and throwing out the MIPS processor in its high-end Tandem computers in the bargain. Compaq's 'core strategy to strengthen its presence in large-scale enterprise computing,' is built around refreshing Tandem's Himalaya line with Alpha microprocessors, Compaq internal documents indicate.

Compaq Computer is throwing its weight behind the Alpha processor it acquired with its purchase of Digital Equipment this year - and throwing out the MIPS processor in its high-end Tandem computers in the bargain.

Compaq's "core strategy to strengthen its presence in large-scale enterprise computing," is built around refreshing Tandem's Himalaya line with Alpha microprocessors, Compaq internal documents indicate.

The company will provide current Himalaya S-series users with a field-installable processor upgrade to the Alpha EV7, available in the first half of 1999, said Pauline Nist, Compaq senior vice president. With subsequent releases of the 64-bit RISC processor, Tandem customers will be required to migrate to new Tandem machines.

The company's plans are in line with its public statements about Alpha to date.

"The delay in Merced shipments has opened a window of opportunity for Alpha," Margaret-Ann Bolton, director of Alpha Server product marketing for Compaq, said recently. "Over time, Compaq will drive the Alpha architecture as an industry standard."

Indeed, Compaq documents state that the Alpha/Himalaya platform will serve as a development "foundry" as the company strives to ease standards-based computing into the high end of the enterprise. Last week, Compaq announced that Tandem's Non-Stop clustering technologies, which include the ServerNet communications protocol, would be licensed to Microsoft and ultimately incorporated into Windows NT.

"I see that in this whole Alpha space, Compaq will use its volume position and partnership with Microsoft to make Alpha the de facto 64-bit standard," Nist said.

Nist herself has witnessed the life, near-death, and resurrection of the Alpha processor from the beginning. Before joining Compaq/Tandem she was a manager at Digital, where Alpha was developed.

"Digital had similar goals (to Compaq's) for Alpha that Digital was incapable of delivering on because it had a much more limited leverage with Microsoft," Nist said.

Compaq Computer Corp., in Houston, can be reached at http://www.compaq.com/.

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