Digital shareholders will vote this Thursday on whether to merge the company with Compaq but it appears to be a foregone conclusion, after Compaq CEO Eckhard Pfeiffer's promise in May to make Digital Unix a priority.
Digital Unix users worried about what the merger will mean to their technology investments needn't worry, says Trent Brennan, Unix product manager for Digital Australia. "On May 5 we had a Digital executive summit meeting in New York at which [Digital CEO] Bob Palmer said we are in the position to make Digital Unix the leading Unix on the Alpha and the IA64 [Merced] platform. At the same meeting, Pfeiffer said Digital Unix was vital to Compaq's future."
Brennan says Digital aims to make Unix one of the top three Unix flavours by year 2000.
Brennan believes there will be a consolidation of the Unix market this year, with the market reducing to offerings from Digital, Hewlett-Packard, Sun and possibly IBM.
"All Unix vendors need to move to a 64-bit platform to remain competitive and we are very mature with 64-bit technology. For others, they have the choice of investing millions of dollars or partnering. Also, customers like choice but they don't like so much choice."
The jockeying has already started, with Digital, Tandem and Sequent coalescing into an alliance around Digital Unix and Fujitsu and Amdahl throwing extra backing behind Sun Solaris on Intel.
Compaq subsidiary Tandem has announced it will adopt Digital Unix for its telecommunications customers and other market segments. Tandem joins Sequent in jumping on board with Digital to develop a version of Digital Unix for Intel's planned 64-bit Merced, or IA64, processor.
Meanwhile, Intel's announcement that the shipping date of Merced has slipped to 2000 has widened the window of opportunity for the 64-bit Alpha.
Stephen Caldwell, Digital Australia product manager for Alpha servers, says the launch of the Alpha EV6 CPU in October will see a doubling of raw CPU performance and five times the performance for application processing over the current EV5.
The first version of EV6 will have a clock speed of 600MHz (the same as the EV5) but will double raw performance with an integer performance of 40 spec and floating point performance of 60. Caldwell says all existing Alpha 4100 and Alpha Server 8000 machines are capable of upgrading to the EV6.