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Intel

Compaq Transfers Alpha to Intel 241

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the and-then-there-was-one dept.
yaba was one of many who noted that Intel is apparently buying alpha from compaq. They also plan to move to their servers to Itanium. There will be at least one more generation of the Alpha chips, but you can imagine how much that'll matter. I still like alpha chips. Behold! Consolidation!Update: 06/25 02:19 PM by H :Check out my recent story about this as well.
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Compaq Transfers Alpha to Intel

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Or how structured programming defeated the goto people. Or the 2600 defeated the Intellivision. Or VHS defeating Betamax. It's all about marketing and how many units you can sell that ultimately defines the winner. RISC is still a SPECIALIZED need. Do a few things, but do them faster. Then instructions are added over time to do [cool trendy thing] and we eventually end up with Pentiums with MMX technology. Transmeta is trying to beat both sides with programmagle CPUs, and is not defeating either side cuz they cost too much. When I can get GHz AMDs for $99, how is some high end CPU gonna compete with that, no matter how great it is?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    This is a crazy article. Alpha-processor owns Alpha. Compaq only uses Alpha at this point. Alpha-Processor is owned by Compaq and Samsung. Alpha Processor is not being sold. Check out http://www.alpha-processor.com/ for more info. The Alpha will live on, just without Compaq supporting it.
  • I guess any filesystem where there aren't nine primitive bits that define all security is considered 'messy' by some folks.

    The Unix Hymn:

    'Tis a gift to be simple,
    tis a gift to be free.
    Tis a gift to dwell in 1973.'

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Yes, of course, they should replace all their IA-32 offerings with an Alpha

    Wouldn't that be a bad idea? Oh, wait a second! You're being sarcastic? Man oh man, and for a minute there I thought there was a chance that you weren't an asshole!
  • by Anonymous Coward
    It's called SMT -- Simultaneous Multi Threading.

    Hop on over to the excellent Paul DeMone articles here [realworldtech.com] and check out the 3 that start with "Alpha EV8"...

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I wonder how this will affect AMD's use of the Alpha's EV6 front side bus. Think: AMD can't use Intel's GTL+ bus because Intel owns the patent and they can't use the EV6 bus because... erm... Intel owns the patent.
  • Is this good for the Alpha? Intel is a notable company, which is a good inovater for hardware and all, but this worries me a little.

    This is starting to parralell the constant buy/sell-off of the Amiga. (Yeah, I know, the hardwares themselves is apples and oranges, but...)
  • Whether Intel is "keeping pace with AMD" depends of course on whether you want SMP or not. As far as I know, there is currently one chipset out that supports SMP for AMD chips, and it's rather subpar - performance with two CPUs is generally about 20% to 30% faster than performance with one CPU. When you do SMP with P4s, on the other hand, performance with two CPUs is generally about 80% faster than performance with one.
  • by emil (695) on Monday June 25, 2001 @05:23AM (#129837) Homepage

    I had hoped that Compaq would aggressively market Alpha with the DEC acquisition, and would offer us a choice in the IA32-IA64 migration.

    I had hoped for fast and reasonably-priced Alpha systems. These never materialized. You never even gave the architecture a chance - the marketing was nonexistent.

    I've had a reasonable level of respect for Compaq equipment, but now I hear that Compaq wants to reposition itself as a services company.

    Shame on you, Compaq. You are the second largest computer company in the world, but it looks to the public that you are lackeys, easily threatened and controlled by Intel and Microsoft. You could have made the market a better place, but all that you've done is make everything worse.

    I guess that it's all in Sun's hands now.

  • by Stormie (708) on Monday June 25, 2001 @05:18AM (#129838) Homepage

    At the most, the IA-64 may benefit from some of the superior parts of the Alpha (and maybe standard IA-32 CPUs) like the FPU, but for the most part, the Alpha may suffer from NIH syndrome.

    At least Compaq say they will port VMS to the Itanium. So while the superior CPU may die out, at least the superior OS will soldier on.

    Hang on.. ported to the Itanic? That's a fate worse than death!!

  • Wasn't it Sun's support that asked customers to sign an NDA about a bad hardware bug?

    -Paul Komarek
  • Was the original name. It is decended from the BBC computer, which had a 6502, but when the designers started thinking about replacing it, they didn't like the way the 680x0 and the 80x86 handled interupts, among other things, so they decided to do their own design, I think Acorn was the name of the company, or the computer. I also seem to think they were interperted, so you could swich cpu arch with no real problems.

    Dear me, the things you remember from being a Newton user.
  • You mean the overgrown undergraduate's senior project known as GCC (many upper level undergrads write C compilers as an academic extercize) isn't gonna be able to tackle this one? Abstract asyncronous volunteers won't be able to port efficiently to the new complex architectures??

    For one thing, I know of no undergraduate who writes a full C compiler as an excercise. Some toy compilers for nice subsets of C, perhaps.

    And GCC is portable like hell while at the same time still optimizing the code pretty well.

    For the second thing (*surprise*), GCC has been ported to the Itanium a long time ago, and has compiled, among other things, the Linux kernel for Itanium. Compaq gave me access to one of their test systems, and while I was not that impressed with the speed of the 667 MHz Itanium, everything seemed to work quite reasonably.

  • Wonder if the Alpha 833 is going to be available at dollar stores because of this.
  • Please contact me via email. I would gladly take the machine off your hands for the price of shipping. It would have a good home, right next to the Alpha, also running OpenVMS (thank god for the hobbyist program).

    P.S. I am serious.


    Rev. Dr. Xenophon Fenderson, the Carbon(d)ated, KSC, DEATH, SubGenius, mhm21x16
  • It translated Intel code to native Alpha code and ran it. The first translation was improved every time the Intel program was run and eventually it was running like a native Alpha application. Very nice.

    Hmm... I wonder if this could be considered "Prior Art" against the Transmeta code morphing patents. It sure sounds very similar.

  • by jd (1658) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <kapimi>> on Monday June 25, 2001 @05:24AM (#129845) Homepage Journal
    The Alpha and the Intel designs were about the only two serious competitors out there, for the domestic market.

    • The StrongARM has been very badly promoted, although it's a great design.
    • The Transputer has never -seen- promotion, although it is probaby one of the most powerful, flexible processor architectures ever developed.
    • The Sparc is dead, except for the European Space Agency's clone.
    • The UltraSparc costs more than the European Space Agency is worth.
    • Transmeta's Crusoe is nice, but without any non-Intel modules, it's essentially an Intel clone. Also, design problems are rumoured, and it's really only a chip for laptop/handheld systems.
    • Motorola essentially quit making processors some time back.
    • IIT made some great vector co-processors for the Intel, but seem to have gone extinct. And even if they hadn't, only Fractint ever made use of the extra instructions.

    Result: Intel can now make ever-more pathetic CPUs on the grounds that there is NOBODY to compete with it. It has a de-facto monopoly. Everyone else is specialized into tiny niches, dead in the water, or just dead.

  • Very much agree with you... That's why Sun have always done well, because they have always shown utmost commitment to their arch and OS - and the *nix market appreciates that.

    (i don't like solaris though)

    However, both SGI and HP have committed themselves to dropping their historical home-grown CPU's and moving to IA64. So cross them off your list. So that leaves Sun and IBM. (The latter with the most god-awful OS that purports to be Unix ever. Dear God let IBM hurry up with their Linux plans.
  • by Colin Smith (2679) on Monday June 25, 2001 @05:32AM (#129847)
    Until they've finished pissing about with their high end products.

    When you're buying large servers you want a 5-10 year upgrade lifeline in front of you.

    Good news for Sun, SGI, IBM, HP.

  • Hehe, farmers would be in a better position if there were 200M more mouths to feed.

    • higher demand
    • government wouldn't have to pay them to let crops die
    • no distribution problem here in the States
    • probably other things I'm missing

    $0.02
    -l

  • Yes, but Intel doesn't license the Socket 8/Slot 1/(What's that new socket called?). That as I understand is why AMD went with the Alpha bus in the first place. Despite the technical advantages, the marketplace had to adapt to the new bus, and manufacturers had to create boards and chipsets to use it.

    If it didn't have technical advantages, it would have been a serious problem for AMD. I assume the boards are currently more expensive because of supply and demand...

    If Intel locks down the new bus, they'll have pulled the rug out from AMD. I doubt the existing agreements between AMD and Alpha/Compaq include a perpetual offer to license the bus at a reasonable cost.

    Will the EV6 bus be the Socket 7 all over again? Stretched to an absurdly long life until a new technology is introduced to the market? Are there any technologies left?

  • by Dr. Evil (3501) on Monday June 25, 2001 @05:58AM (#129851)

    Does this mean that Intel has the patent on the EV6 bus AMD is using?

  • Compaq bought DEC for one reason and one reason only: the service organization. DEC already had a worldwide organization of service engineers on staff, and a well-oiled machine to keep it all working. In order to tackle the enterprise market, Compaq needed that, and it was easier to buy DEC than to create it themselves.

    What they really didn't want was DEC's technology. Those of you who were paying attention at the time might recall that Compaq initially told their Tru64 UNIX customers that they were going to force-migrate them all to Windows NT. This sounded good for a while, until the customers shouted back, "Screw you, we're going to Sun!" That made them back off.

    Perhaps Compaq has now decided that it's time to finally let go of Alpha -- a technology that they feel is "baggage" when their bread and butter is Wintel. Itanium is clearly their desired destination. The only reason they give credit to Linux is because right now it's the only operating system that actually runs on Itanium.

    It's a shame, I like Compaq's hardware -- I've always found it to be very well-built (albeit proprietary in places where it shouldn't be) -- but their dedication to the Wintel monoculture is quite unattractive.
    --
  • Well, VLIW/EPIC is actually very similar to RISC. The major difference is that a RISC CPU normally does branch prediction, code reordering, etc. (in real time) while VLIW/EPIC relies on a compiler to do it off-line (i.e. not it real time). Thus, theoretically, the ia64 architecture would not suffer pipeline stalls at all, but it does make compilers a whole lot more complicated. Also, relying on a compiler to do what CPU normally does in hardware, (theoretically) makes the CPU less complicated. Well, we'll see how it plays out. So far it's been a rough ride for ia64. It's what 3 years late now? And the Merced err... "Itanium" is just a testing CPU, due to be replaced by McKinly.
    ___
  • Intel can't afford to withhold the EV6 from AMD, even if they own patents. The Alpha has such a small market share that Intel's Herfindahl market concentration index isn't going to move more than a few points as a result of the acquisition. Thus the acquisition itself does not meet the DOJ or FTC criteria for monopolistic behaviour.

    However, using EV6 to cripple AMD would be clearly anticompetitive and, even though the FTC and DOJ would not act (*cough* President Bu$h), AMD could bring antitrust charges in federal court. They would be very likely to win an injunction allowing them to continue using EV6, and eventually a judgement against Intel.
  • the reason sun hardware is so expensive is cuz people are willing to pay that much (though, who knows why that is).

    Because their support is so damn good.
  • by Jeffrey Baker (6191) on Monday June 25, 2001 @06:11AM (#129856)
    I personally tried to acquire three different ES40 achines fom Compaq, but Compaq were completely incapable of selling them to me. You can't buy them direct if you are smaller than a national government, and you can't find a damn reseller because nobody resells them. Even some of the links on Compaq's Alpha Resellers web page are dead. Reseller links to nowhere, thanks a lot Compaq.

    At least DEC, infamous for their inability to market anything to anyone, used to send me a paper catalog, and I could call a 1-800 number and order whatever I wanted. I bought a UDB and a PWS that way.

  • by "Zow" (6449) on Monday June 25, 2001 @06:33AM (#129857) Homepage

    Some of these have also been noted by other respondants, but let me see if I can summarize:

    • Motorola Power PC: With the next generation of faster G4 processors comming out and Apple's continuing commitment to the architecture, I wouldn't write this one off yet.
    • IBM Power PC: I haven't exactly figured out what diferentiates IBM's and Motorola's PPC chips, but it seems like IBM's are targeted more towards embeded applications where they'll probably remain a big player for some time.
    • IBM Power: It seems with the IBM - Motorola split on the PPC, IBM returned to the power architecture for their big boxes. The latest offering is the Power III, which gives the Alpha and Itanium a serious run for their money. Keep in mind that this processor is at the heart of the world's fastest computer [top500.org], so I think it's providing some stiff compition for Intel. (Disclaimer: I may have some bias given that ASCI White is just a few blocks away from me right now.)
    • MIPS: I think I heard that SGI is migrating all their MIPS machines to Itanium, so this one's probably dead.
    • PA-RISC - HP worked jointly with Intel on Itanium with the intention of it replacing PA-RISC, so I think it safe to declare this one out of the running.
    • AMD's x86-64 architecture - I honestly don't know much about this architecture, but from my understanding it's a derivitive of the Intel x86 architecture with extentions for 64 bit memory addressing. Whether or not you want to consider it an Intel design is up to you, but Intel certainly isn't going to endorse them and I think they'll provide some stiff competition for Itanium (particularly if they run existing x86-32 code flawlessly).

    As for some of your other comments:

    • With the new higher speed UltraSparc III processors that Sun is putting in their new Blade machines, Sun has once again reached a reasonable price/performance point, so I wouldn't discount them too much yet. I completely don't understand your comment about the ESA not being able to afford it. Furthermore, Sun is very anti-Intel: I've heard the only place in Sun that they're allowed to have Intel boxes is is the Solaris x86 development group, so Sun will likely be the last major workstation/server vendor to make the switch to hop on the Intel bandwagon.
    • Motorola most certainly still makes processors. Besides the afore mentioned PPC, the 68k architecture is still around since it's great for embedded applications and handheld computers, such as the Palm (which last I heard used the Dragonball processor - a variation of the 68040, I think).

    In summary, I think your conclusion that the Intel based design is the only serious contender out there is a bit overstated.

    -"Zow"

  • Right...but for my purposes (UNIX based realtime music synthesis and DSP) the Alpha running Linux would have kicked some serious ass.

  • Your choice of product names gives away just how out of touch you are with current technology offerings in the way of OpenVMS and Tru64 Unix's TruCluster Software.

    Tru64 Unix (as it's now known) offers VMS style clustering on UNIX. No other vendor can currently compete in this arena. Sun's Serengeti doesn't match up, and Linux isn't there yet either. The GFS (Global Filesystem) is a significant step in the right direction, but that's only one piece in the puzzle. By the time they get parity with what TruClusters offer today, TruCluster will have moved on even further. Today, TruCluster can boast a common view of the mount table across cluster members (for any filesystem type that can sit on top of CFS). In the works, for example, are similar enhancement to the process table. I don't think that kind of functionality is even on the Linux development radar yet.

    Macka
  • you'll probably get a few more years out of your
    new boxes. Compaq have sizable military contracts that depend on VMS. And they have been doing an awful lot of development for the platform lately.

    K.
    -
  • Intel does x86, Itanium and ARM - and soon Alpha.

    AMD, Cyrix and Transmeta do x86 compatibility and play catchup with Intel's x86 development.

    Sun (Sparc), HP (HP) and IBM (PowerPC) do their own server & workstation chips as usual - on a very low level (counting CPUs here), as usual.

    According to my CPU statistics Intel is the singular heavyweight with respect to CPU development here?! So Intel aquiring one of his (very) few competitors is a Bad Thing(tm) with respect to a healthy architecture diversity.
  • A current theory regarding Compaq's so-called marketing efforts for the Alpha platform was that it was headed up by the same people who ran Digital's crack marketing team.

    ``Do you know how many times I was "marketed" to? Like... maybe twice. I worked on a total of 10 alpha systems.''

    Twice?! I could only dream of hearing from Compaq marketing that many times. I've been working with Alphas since, oh, around '94-'95. I have never received a call from anyone in Compaq's marketing group that wasn't a return call to one initiated by either myself or a co-worker. Salespeople who don't know how to sell. Unfortunately, that seems to have been one of the things that Compaq received when they bought Digital. Aside from some printed materials, I have found out about new offerings in Alphaservers either from the www or from local resellers. Mostly the latter, since almost immediately after Compaq's purchase of Digital, their web sites became intensely graphical and slow to the point of being unusable, links that point to nothing, pages that don't really tell you anything, etc. You become aware that there's something wrong when you cannot view pages on the official Alphaserver, and especially the Tru64, web site using a workstation running Tru64 and the browser that ships on the installation CDs. It's so nice having to use the Intel/NT box on your desk to research Alpha/Tru64 purchases. Compaq's marketing efforts are pathetic for anything that isn't Intel-based.

    Even though Tru64 has been rumored to have already been ported to the Itanium processor, the comments around the office were NOT ``Well, that's a relief!'' but, rather, ``Why wouldn't we just run Linux?'' Why, indeed!


    --

  • please clairify, Compaq Corperate level hardware is well-built and nice to work with. The consumer and SoHo grade stuff is the crappiest hardware to ever come out of a box.

    There is nothing to like about their consumer grade stuff.. (Example the pesario laptops are pure crap, while the armada is amazing. (it's like they weren't even built by the same company)

    As for the servers, I chose the ML530 over the HP and Dell servers because of the reliability and quality of the proliant 800 and 3000 I have here.. Now I really wonder what I will reccomend to management in 3 years when we retire the 800 and 3000.. It might not be compaq if they continue to follow these lines.
  • "promoted and marketed" hahaha

    I own a couple of alphas.. I'm a "registered" developer... I worked on them at a previous company.

    Do you know how many times I was "marketed" to? Like... maybe twice. I worked on a total of 10 alpha systems.

    Compaq has done absolutly NOTHING. NADA. Heck, their marketing sites "alphapowered" was always broken. The only freaking thing they ever got right was the processor itself. You couldn't even buy an alpha online from their site.

    Oh well, maybe they'll be a great discount on hardware.

    Pan
  • Alpha has this same instruction set (Since the EV4/5 even). It does repetitive loops over numerous registers to achieve massive multiplication/division sets (useful for MPEG encoding)

    It's called Alpha MVI.

    Pan
  • "Abstract asyncronous volunteers won't be able to port efficiently to the new complex architectures??"

    You mean like Cygnus Solutions? They're a bunch loosers anyway.

    Volunteers makes it sound degrading, too. I guess the United Way are all a bunch of loosers. So's the Red Cross and Catholic Charities. All Loosers

    Pan

  • NT is at least as poor a bet as VMS. You will have no problem supporting your current Alpha-based VMS systems for many years to come, and since Microsoft is officially on a 2-4 year upgade cycle (and changing their license terms to force you into the upgrades, see many previous /. articles) it won't cost you any more than the NT treadmill.

    I know of at least two VAX/VMS systems still in heavy daily use running VMS 5 (yes, they both survived Y2K without patches or problems despite the doomsayers). How many NT 3.51 systems (which is not really a fair comparison anyway since VMS 6 predates NT 3.51) are still in use? How many of them go five years without rebooting?

    Start converting to linux now; take your time, and all things will converge nicely for you in five years or less. Don't bother with NT, it's just another proprietary rat-hole.
    --Charlie

    PS:
    I admin VMS, linux, and NT, incidentally (among others) for a living.
    --CTB
  • There've been a fair number of old VAX (P-VAX and C-VAX) as well as early Alpha systems showing up at the DuPont Surplus Asset sales lately.

    For those that don't know, DuPont (Uncle Dupie to Delaware residents) is a 200 year old zaibatsu operating mostly out of Wilmington, DE, USA. The DuPont family, that started it, is both famous and infamous for their benevolent works, war profiteering, and involvement with GM and Standard Oil. The company (as opposed to the family) is famous for inefficiency and pollution.

    DuPont suffers from severe beaurocratitis and consequently has been dismembering itself and selling off the pieces for the last half-dozen years. You can get old Alphas for $100 when they have them, currently there is an HSC and a VAX 8500 processor sitting around... plus some specialized equipment for torturing small animals (no, sadly I am not kidding).

    Happy trashing.

    --Charlie
  • Most commercial unix variants can use ACLs if you want them. Linux has ACL patches.

    Linux evolves over time in response to the needs of its users. WNT evolves over time in response to what Microsoft tells WNT users they want...
  • Alpha has a very good software x86 emulation - I'd reckon that Intel wants the rights to that - not to mention possible patents controlling the Alpha system bus that the AMD Athlon uses...
  • Microsoft competes well in the desktop market, but they aren't a serious contender in the high-end server market. Do they even have a 32-bit operating system?

    Intel competes well in the desktop market, but they aren't a serious contender in the high-end server market. Do they even have a 32-bit processor?

    The IBM PC architecture competes well in the desktop market....

    These are all statements that could have been made in the past (and probably were). They've all been superseded. I would suggest that success in the desktop market permits economies of scale that can be used to overtake the server market. On a side note, I would suggest that success in the desktop market hinges on selling to business customers. Thus Dell is eating both Compaq's and Gateway's lunches.
  • Good luck finding out what AVR stands for - all you'll see is "nothing, it's just a name."

    Atmel's AVR series was developed by some Europeans (Finland?) and I think A V and R are the designer's initials.

  • This is the end of Alpha. If you don't believe that, you've missed Processor Economics 101. Intel will not sink BILLIONS into an also-ran CPU. Nope, out come the software emulators and quickly, perhaps very quickly, Alpha is over.

    Next SPARC will die. It has to because the economics for it just are not there. Sun is creeping further and further behind in the bang/$ curve and they simply don't have the money required to go to the next level.

    The raw facts are it costs nearly unbelievable amounts of money to roll out a CPU in today's market. (Xylinx gets bigger devices and things might change, BTW.) Compaq nor Sun have the pockets needed to roll out the basic technology that runs the industry.

    Technological wizardary not withstanding, Alpha and Sparc are doomed.

    -- Multics

    P.S. CISC, RISC, WISK, who cares? Economics and business relationships control what is adopted and by who. I wish it were not so, but wishing doens't make it so. It is silly even to discuss it, since these two CPUs are dead from purely economic reasons.

  • Back before Compaq purchased DEC, Intel and DEC were in a lawsuit over Intel keeping a bunch of Alpha technical specs (including details about there technology to run 32-bit code) to help Intel (and HP) with their IA-64 work. Intel responded to DEC's lawsuit by threatening to withhold Intel processors from DEC and issuing a counter lawsuit. This put DEC up the creek without a paddle since they made the bulk of their money from Intel based systems. DEC responded by crying, "monopolist!" If I remember correctly, at one point it looked like the government was really going to get involved. It only got settled when Compaq swallowed DEC up. The lawsuits were dropped or settled out of court and the government's investigation of Intel quietly died. I don't even know if Intel even got a slap on the wrist.

    So Compaq purchased DEC, sold StrongArm to Intel, sold AltaVist to CMGI, and is discontinuing Alpha and selling some of its IP to Intel. Why did they buy DEC again? It seems a lot of effort and money for DEC's services division.
  • On the other hand, there are rumors of rack-mount Mac servers running OS X Server (stop snickering!) about to hit the market, so the PowerPC could improve its market share.

    Who's snickering? It's BSD, right? I'd buy them.
    ------

  • At the most, the IA-64 may benefit from some of the superior parts of the Alpha (and maybe standard IA-32 CPUs) like the FPU, but for the most part, the Alpha may suffer from NIH syndrome.

    Sad, since it's superior to just about ALL other CPUs out there.
  • Actually, IA-64 is neither. It is based on something called VLIW (very long instruction word) which packs multiple, simple, independant instructions into one big instruction. Thus instruction can have its parts executed in parallel, which means that the CPU doesn't have to do instruction reordering.
  • "Modern" CISC is essentially RISC. If you take a look at the architectures of ALL modern x86 CPUs, they are internally RISC, but decode x86 instructions. On Intel, these x86 instructions decode onto multiple "micro-ops" and on the P4, it is these micro-ops that are stored in L1 instruction cache. On the AMD K7, these instructions are called ROPs (RISC-like operations). On both these CPUs, the simple x86 instructions are translated directly into ROPs or micro-ops, while the more complicated ones are translated into multiple ROPs or micro-ops. On both the CPUs, the execution units only execute the micro-ops, not the x86 instructions themselves.
  • Hey, don't the lastest benchmarks show the Itanium kicking Alpha's ass in floating point?
  • Not really. Before the P6, all x86 chips had execution units that worked directly with x86 instructions. Now, the instruction units on the P4 don't even know what an x86 instruction is, all they handle are P4 micro-ops.
  • what about the fact that ia-64 SUCKS? compaq publishes papers about how superior alpha is, then turns right around and standardizes on ia-64! i thought it was sad when compaq bought dec and when sgi dropped mips, but this is by far the worst. intel has now bought out the superior competetion and will force another of their idiotic architectures on the world. once again, marketing and momentum win over superior design and preformance.

    i think it'll be interesting to see if customers attempt to sue compaq, since they've been claiming a 20-25 year life span for alpha.
  • ultrasparc III is a dud. it's performance is lacking, to say the least. i have never heard of any drive containing sun firmware and i don't know why one would. just cuz it's branded as a sun drive (like quantums have been branded as apple and dec drives), doesn't mean sun wrote it's firmware. the reason sun hardware is so expensive is cuz people are willing to pay that much (though, who knows why that is).
  • MIPS: I think I heard that SGI is migrating all their MIPS machines to Itanium, so this one's probably dead.

    MIPS seems to be dying quite quickly in the server space but it is growing extremely quickly in the embedded space. NEC and PMC-Sierra are two of the big ones. in fact, PMC-Sierra just announced the RM9000x2 [pmc-sierra.com] which has dual 1GHz 64-bit MIPS cores, an 8-bit 500Mhz Hypertransport connection and a 200Mhz DDR SDRAM controller. it's going to be targeted to telecom equipment, but still that's a pretty damned impressive processor.

    at any rate, the MIPS processor is far from dead.

    - j

  • Is exactly what I said when I read the headline. I was hoping that interest in the 64 bit arena would be kindled by the Itanium and competition there would drive prices down. Right now an Itanium chip can run you 4 grand. Not a system, the chip. The most expensive alpha chip I ever priced was $1500.

    Damn. Well... there are still options but I've always been kind of partial to the Alpha. Oh well.

  • What I'm more curious about is how is this going to affect AMD! Amd either licensed or bought the rights for alphas bus architecture and uses it in all of it's new processors. What if Intel suddenly decided not to renew their license, etc..
  • This sucks ass. I have really wanted to get a nice Alpha system, but haven't had the money yet. Now it looks like a cheap system will never materialize...

    What's more, I've been working on an Alpha emulator recently, and if the architecture is going to go down the drain, then perhaps the only good implementations left will be emulations....

    Say, doesn't Cray use Alphas in its T3E machines or something? I would think that that is a pretty big market...
    -----
  • OpenVMS will be ported to Itanium (along with Tru64 and NSK).
  • Compaq is, according to the article, also commiting to the release of one more generation of Alpha processors. But, I think you can assume that will be the last. They will be porting their OS technology to Itanium.

    I think you are basically right. As far as I can tell from the press releases, this is what's happening: (1) Compaq is cancelling development on EV8 and successors, (2) Compaq will complete EV7, (3) Intel will get all Alpha technology (CAD tools, chip designs, etc.), (4) Intel will offer Alpha engineers positions presumable on IA-64 development, (5) Compaq will completely migrate away from Alpha to Itanium.

    The last one gives it away: if Compaq is not a customer of Alpha, who is? So, yes, Alpha is officially dead (with EV7). Intel's interest in Alpha is not in Alpha itself, but in the design technology.
  • I stand corrected about Alpha engineers jumping to AMD, but my guess is that Intel is still using this acquisition as a protective measure.

    Glad to hear you didn't jump to Intel. :-)

  • Intel isn't particularly interested in the Alpha. They're interested in co-opting the Alpha engineers and taking some of the Alpha technology for future Intel development.

    Alpha engineers have been jumping ship to AMD, and Intel knows how valuable engineers are (remember, they poached Motorola engineers [wired.com]) to the competition.

    So who is the competition? Intel already took much of Motorola's brain trust, and Motorola keeps screwing up. IBM continues to do well with PowerPC, but that's a niche market and Intel probably figures they'll take down IBM's PowerPC later.

    No, the competition here is certainly AMD. With AMD's stated goal of moving into the enterprise market starting to bear fruit, Intel has got to be a bit scared. As they say, "only the paranoid survive."

  • Yes, that was my point exactly: today's underdog can get a pass only as long as it stays an underdog. While AMD is small and weak, it needs building up, so that Intel is forced (very much against their will) to give us more and better for less and less money. Once AMD gets big, they have to be pressured by some new underdog (maybe Intel).

    We see that in the operating system field: IBM, the old monopolist, is keeping some pressure on Microsoft, the once-upon-a-time underdog, by funding development in and lending respectability to Linux.

    I'll say again what I said in my orignal post: Worrying about monopoly and the evils thereof isn't a once-and-for-all sort of thing, and we can't divide the world into the evil and the good. Intel and MS are antitrust threats because they are NOT the underdogs, and thus can smother competition with FUD and dollars. AMD and Sun can't, yet, so we don't worry about them. Yet. [Emphasis added to the "yet"s.]

  • I love how when a big company like Intel/Microsoft/Sun/ make a move to potentially give themselves a better product or enhance an existing product, it's a violation of anti-trust or they're going to blow up the world! We hackers/programmers/lovers of free speech need to unite and destroy! Yet when an underdog/open source/free software company pulls something like this it's viewed as a triumph for the community and we all should rejoice!

    There is a reason for the double standard: AMD really _is_ different than Intel. It isn't because they're nice guys, it's because they are the underdog. Their continued success, and their very existence, is in doubt from year to year. If AMD were to buy the Alpha, that would give them some additional technology resources and another product line which is solidly positioned at the high end of the pc market where they are weakest. AMD+Alpha would be a better competitor to Intel, and we would all benefit as Intel scrambled to raise quality and production and lower costs.

    Intel is already stiff, possibly insurmountable, competition to AMD. Intel+Alpha lets Intel assimilate any valuable elements of the Alpha which can overcome the NIH syndrome, and strengthens their lead in the high end, high margin pc market where AMD really needs to catch up.

    Intel+Alpha = less competition in the future, AMD+Alpha = more competition in the future. This isn't because of any moral superiority of AMD, but because AMD isn't yet big enough to screw us as effectively as Intel. If AMD "wins the war" and displaces Intel, they will of course try to do the same sort of damage that Microsoft did when they "won the war" against IBM. But remember, if you're old enough, that IBM was an evil empire too, before MS cut them down to size.

    Worrying about monopoly and the evils thereof isn't a once-and-for-all sort of thing, and we can't divide the world into the evil and the good. Intel and MS are antitrust threats because they are NOT the underdogs, and thus can smother competition with FUD and dollars. AMD and Sun can't, yet, so we don't worry about them. Yet.

  • The majority of apps out there do not need the memory that a 64 bit address space can get them. I dont know of many web servers that have more than a gig of ram in them, do you?
    You can buy 1 gig DIMMs today. That means that in ~3 years (late 2004), a single high-end DIMM will use all of a 32-bit CPU's address bits. That's a brick-wall limit for the 32-bit architectures, a limit that cannot be broken no matter how much money you have to spend.

    IMHO, it's not a theoretical limit. There are plenty of database servers today that would cheerfully use 8 gigs. Likewise for scientific and engineering programs. Late 2003 will see this market really open up, and whoever can ship >32-bit boxen will be able to collect $100s per system in pure profit. Whoever doesn't pursue 64-bit will see themselves locked out of a lucrative market. The big chip makers see this brick wall, and that's why everybody is developing 64-bit CPUs.

  • (I still like the fact that I can put a console server on the serial port and do anything to the server, including os installs, from anywhere in the world.)
    Just as a point of order, on Dell you can plug in a Dell Remote Administration Card and get the same effect. Compaq has a similar dealie for it's Intel servers. I'm sure other high end Intel server solutions have similar options.
  • He didn't say that they make the best FPU core in the world. Can I run down to Future Shop and snag an Alpha station, a copy of Windows and Office so I can read word docs? No? Doesn't sound like so good a chip to me. Sure, it can do everything faster, cheaper, and while playing a symphonic orchestra, but if I can't get my hands on it, and use it for whatever I use computers for on a daily basis, it sure as hell doesn't qualify as 'the best.'
  • This is spectacular. We just completed a year-long project migrating 15 years of in house applications to OpenVMS Alpha.

    The only reason we actually went ahead is the BINARY COMPATIBILITY! IA-64 won't be compatible! So in a few years when our computing demands once again exceed our systems we'll have to reproduce the entire migration.

    Are there any details as to who will be continuing to support the current Alpha line, retired VAX line, and OpenVMS?

    I have to admit Compaq has not been the greatest benefactor to DEC's legacy, however, for the users of digital's software and hardware massive uncertainty again surrounds us.

    I should have just given in when the administrators wanted NT.

  • I wonder if this could be considered "Prior Art" against the Transmeta code morphing patents.

    Dynamic recompilation has been used for a long time (see also Connectix Virtual PC, Speed Doubler, and Virtual Game Station). Transmeta's claimed innovation (I consider myself quite skilled for an IANAL at figuring out what patents say) is branch prediction using commit/rollback semantics (remember your SQL?) for the CPU registers. The prior art is something similar that was implemented in the Zilog Z80 processor (not the game boy's Sharp z80clone).

  • Exactly. The fact was, you could purchase a Socket A motherboard and Thunderbird processor for a few hundred dollars. An Alpha mohterboard/CPU combo with a 25% slower clock rate (which is roughly 50% faster) would cost about $1,000. Add to that the need for more expensive RAM and your total system cost is going to be over 100% more. For large businesses, this wasn't always a problem, but it was for smaller users and home users. Add the loss of NT, and most consultants stopped recommending Alpha systems, since they either wanted to stick with NT on Intel or Solaris. Tru-64 was fabulous, but just didn't have the widespread support to hold up the architecture. Oh well, maybe this means there will be some closeouts on Alpha boxes soon.
  • And just when you thought Alphas we're the best 64bits platform to go to if you we're anti-intel and looking for real performance....

    First, Digital selling it to compaq,
    then compaq who NEVER promoted alphas and canned windows 2000 pro developpement with microsoft at around build 2128 if I remember correctly, and then transfering it to intel??? Nice way to slowly die.

    I remember how much the compaq representative didn't want to compare the Alpha workstations to the intel processors when he came to do a demo, he claimed it was the fastest processor, this and that, all good, but NEVER DARED to compare it to an intel for the 3d rendering performance.

    They held a big bomb but never used it... they could have been one major competitor in the 64 bits arena and high-performance workstation, but they never DARED to touch intel's domination since they were selling intel boxes too. I can't beleive they've pulled a "gateway" (i.e. gateway with amiga) on the Alpha... this is so frustrating...
  • >Give me a break, Compaq fronted the Alpha architecture for a good three years

    I'll give you a break, and the whole god damn car when you'll be right, I don't know under which rock you lived in the last 3 years, or if your startpage was on compaq's alpha web site, but other than that, show me all their "marketting efforts" in a tangible way, because I must be blind: I didn't see any.

  • I'd seriously think about quitting and moving to AMD. Both for ethical reasons and personnal reasons. Unless there's a closed contract like "work for us for 3 years full", I don't see why anyone would work there anymore (unless he's got the big $$ and a high level, and even then...)
  • Give me a break, Compaq fronted the Alpha architecture for a good three years, even when it was obvious that it was more or less dead. How many of their Alpha systems did you buy during that time? Thats what I thought.
  • Compaq promoted and marketed Alpha systems for three years, even though it was essentially dead when they took it over from DEC. They did their due dilligence for a stillborn platform.
  • Go to Toms Hardware and look at the chip benchmarks.

    They never benchmark the AMD with the same speed intel. For example, the AMD 1.2GHz is usually benchmarked against the 1.6GHz Intel. Just because the chip is marketted at a speed doesn't mean its equivalent to its competitors speed.

    --
    "That's one small step for man..."
  • by FortKnox (169099) on Monday June 25, 2001 @05:20AM (#129973) Homepage Journal
    Is this a desperate attempt to stay in competition with AMD? To speak bluntly, Intel hasn't released a stable chip since the P3. They keep releasing really fast chips just to keep the pace with AMD. But with the recalls of the P4, I think the chip buying community is ready to put their faith in AMD.

    I think the brightest move for Intel would be to dump the P4, and just update the technologies on the alpha... The alpha isn't anywhere near the end of its cycle...

    --
    "That's one small step for man..."
  • by Fat Rat Bastard (170520) on Monday June 25, 2001 @05:23AM (#129974) Homepage
    From what the CNet article said it looks like Chipzilla is interested more in the Alpha engineering department than they are the actual Alpha technology. Rumor is, in the Inquirer story, that a lot of the Alpha folks really don't want to work for Intel (with AMD being the benifactor of a lot of ex Alpha engineers). Unless there's something going on that I'm too dumb to see this simply looks like Intel buying IA-64 market share from Compaq.

    If you don't have anything nice to say, say it often.

  • by denshi (173594) <toddg@math.utexas.edu> on Monday June 25, 2001 @07:03AM (#129978) Homepage Journal
    I'm watching AMD on this one -- they have a bunch of the original Alpha designers working for them now, so they have the skillz. Aside from them, there are a host of other competition, as you so clearly stated. Some you missed are Hitachi, which ran the Dreamcast and has a growing share of the embedded market; and ARM, which is still kicking out new cores (and working on 64-bit now).

    There's an interesting story behind HP end-of-lifeing PA-RISC and SGI eol'ing IRIX; I posted it last night on the previous Alpha story, but maybe it deserves restating:

    HP teamed with Intel b/c the CEO-for-hire they had at the time (Rick Belluzio) tried to get the company to drop PA-RISC and HP-UX and move everything to Intel and WinNT (because that's the future!). I wonder in which class in biz school do they tell you to just drop 2 decades of engineering focus and end-of-life all your products at once. The predictable occured: all their server customers went to Sun, who was busy sucking up every internet customer around. Their 'high-end NT workstations' were massively undercut by, well, every PC clone maker in the world. Moral: value your uniqueness. The board managed to fire him in time to reverse some of the damage, but HP was been burned during the fastest growth period for Unix servers in years (possibly ever). They didn't need to before, but now they really need to honor those contracts with Intel.

    As an aside, this same CEO-for-hire did the same manuver at SGI (end-of-life MIPS & IRIX, sell WinTel), with the same consequences. He's now working at Microsoft. It's a facinating biz study -- every commercial Unix vendor who partnered with MS & Intel was badly damaged (DEC was destroyed). Sun, who fought MS tooth and nail, thrived. Perhaps it's naive to follow behind WinTel...

  • by Alien54 (180860) on Monday June 25, 2001 @05:22AM (#129981) Journal
    They will be having a webcast about this; with on-demand replay available for 30 days. starting June 25 at 12:30 p.m. EDT

    here's the link

    http://webevents.broadcast.com/compaq/PressAnnounc ement [broadcast.com]

    For those of us who are into hearing sales geeks talk.

    [Note the space typo in the link is a slash problem/bug. I can see it spelled correctly in the comment box.]

    Check out the Vinny the Vampire [eplugz.com] comic strip

  • Look at the definition of RISC [dictionary.com]. First thought to look it up in the jargon lexicon [tuxedo.org] but to my surprise RISC/CISC weren't included.
    But then, I probably have been trolled?
  • Slashdot's reputation!? Slashdot's rep is that of a bunch of college students commenting outside their experience and expertise, and it's not very far wrong. It's fun and a good read and I've learned some things around here, but it's a lot like hanging out in the Quad at Enormous State University and eavesdropping on 15 different conversations. If we had a keg we'd call it a party.
  • from the article:

    "The bottom line is: we are creating great customer value,"

    I hate it when they say that. It'll probably mean we can all dive into our pockets again.


  • Intel is a notable company, which is a good inovater[sic]

    notable for stealing many of DEC's technologies and getting busted. [wired.com]

    innovator [By 1995 Palmer (Former CEO of Digital Equipment Corp) was noticing reviews of Intel's new Pentium Pro line that found it strikingly--even suspiciously--improved over its Pentium forebears. Intel itself provided the most damning hints that it had leaned on its competitors for the upgrade. "There's nothing left to copy," said chief operating officer Craig Barrett in an incendiary Wall Street Journal article in August 1996. "We're a big banana now," noted CEO Andrew Grove. "We can't rely on others to do our research and development for us."]

    --
    All your .sig are belong to us!

  • That's because Intel is still trying to figure out how to make a 64-bit processor. :)
  • by rabtech (223758) on Monday June 25, 2001 @06:42AM (#129998) Homepage
    It doesn't matter; if Intel bought the patents for EV6 then they also bought the liabilites that came with them, including prior contracts with AMD. Intel can't just cut them off without entering into a serious breech of contract, which would give AMD plenty of ammo to clean their clocks in the court system.

    AMD has nothing to fear from this situation, at least immediately. Some of the engineers may want to keep working at a place where their input is actually valued instead of silenced by uppermanagement (think RAMBUSgate). So AMD might actually find itself some top-class engineers looking for work on its doorstep soon.

    Now as for the long term, i guess it all depends on exactly what Intel bought and how much of an edge (if any) this would give them.
    -- russ
  • by fooguy (237418) on Monday June 25, 2001 @06:51AM (#130007) Homepage
    The problem with rage is that it makes it hard to focus and say what you're really feeling.

    Intel has made a fortune selling garbage. The x86 architecture is just that - garbage. CISC is dead, and has been for a long time. They couldn't make a decent SMP setup until they stole technology from a International Meta Systems [zdnet.co.uk] (P6). The flaw in CISC is the inclusion of superinstructions - why add hardware to perform a partial arctangent when memory is cheap? Wait! I have an idea...let's add 57 new ones and call them MMX. Wait! How about 72 news ones called KNI/Streaming SIMD.

    Could I do it better? No. But Alpha was truely, without a question in my mind, the finestest CPU ever engineered. It's a pleasure to work on, it's fast, it scales well, and it does out of order execution, which gives it a leg up on the Ultra Sparc.

    This has caused a pretty big uproar on comp.os.vms as well. As you may or may not know, OpenVMS, which at one time was THE operating system to run (if you weren't blue) only runs on the VAX and Alpha. Well, Compaq quit making the VAX in September 2000, so this is it. While Compaq claims OpenVMS will be ported to IA-64, it's hardly comparable. There are VAXen in production that haven't been rebooted in a decade. Software in place that hasn't changed in years...and this is how it's going to end? Compaq gives away Alpha technology so they can focus on the iPaq?

    These are the issues raised in comp.os.vms:

    Will *every* Compaq product which is sold for Alpha VMS today ( or last week ) be ported to IA64? Will they all be available by January 2004? Do they have commitments from Oracle to meet that schedule ( Oracle appear to be "excited" about Tru64 on IA64 but didn't mention if they cared VMS would be available there )? Will all existing LP licenses be transferrable to IA64 at no cost ( to systems of comparable size)? [anyone who went through a VAX to Alpha transition will understand this question]

    Will Compaq provide assistance to 3rd party vendors to move their products to IA64? Will IA64 ports be a straight "recompile and link" or will some programs require substantial changes ( eg device drivers and privileged code )?

    My point was that it seems to get limited respect within Compaq. I've been told ( sorry I can't remember the source ) that it was a last minute decision to port it to Alpha and that it wasn't in the original game plan. My concern is the same thing could happen in the Alpha-IA64 transition.

    FMS is another product I worry about. I understand it also wasn't going to be ported, until they realized that All-in-1 needed it. FMS was not recoded for Alpha it was just VESTed. Will it be possible to re-VEST it to run on IA64? Will it be done?


    And the quote that sums the whole thing up, from Bill Gunshannon:

    Of course, this means congratulations are in order for it's grandfather. The PDP-11 architecture has now not only outlasted the VAX, but also the Alpha.

    foo?
  • If you ROT-13 the word "intel" you get "vagry" . . . .

    From dictionary.com [dictionary.com]:

    vagary n : a sudden desire; "he bought it on impulse" [syn: caprice, impulse, whim]

  • Intel only owned the parts of Alpha that it already owned because Intel was already using Alpha technology in its chips efore it owned any of it.

    Remember when Intel and DEC settled DEC's infringement suit when Intel bought the Alpha lines [techlawjournal.com]? How is that a settlement? Clearly DEC wasn't terribly interested in maintaining the technological independence of the Alpha design.

    That same agreement multi-sourced Alpha at Samsung, AMD, and IBM. So there was and is no danger of Intel's monopolizing Alpha.

    Compaq then bought all of DEC, and ended up owning whatever was left over.

    (Naturally, that sounds like an inefficiency. Compaq can't handle inefficiency. Intel is organized to mediate inefficiency and even find ways to profit from it. They build a fab for one chip partly on the premise that once that chip is done in the market they can use the fab line for less-mainstream products; they've done this for 30 years; some lines are designed knowing that their primary product--this year's desktop chip, for example--will never be enough to pay the mortgage; it's a gutsy and thoroughly pro move).

    --Blair
  • The problem with rage is that it makes it hard to focus and say what you're really feeling. Intel has made a fortune selling garbage.

    The problem with rage is that it makes it hard to focus and discern the truth about the world while saying instead what you're feeling.

    You call it garbage. I call it economical.

    Yes, Intel sells cheap, under-wrought chips (it isn't for lack of trying). But if it weren't for those, you wouldn't have a computer.

    Without Intel, you'd be at the whim of Motorola, who would be only too glad absent competition to triple the price in the name of "quality".

    A couple of other anti-snobby analogies:

    If it weren't for companies like McDonald's, millions of people would be malnourished, having no time and too little money to feed themselves in the few minutes they have between their two jobs.

    If it weren't for companies like Ford, Packard would be the dominant auto manufacturer, and the only people with cars would be the ones who could afford the American Rolls Royce. Which there would be far fewer of, without our automotive culture (think "private plane").

    Intel's chips cost more than AMD's, but Wintel computers cost far less than Apple's. They provide popular functionality and acceptable reliability. They don't dress up in pretentions to perfection. They're right in the personal computing market's wheelhouse. Bottom line. Ballgame.

    --Blair

    P.S. VMS hasn't been "the" anything since UNIX came along. That was decades ago. Get over it.
  • No, it wouldn't be sweet.

    There would be 200 million horses in the U.S.

    200 million extra mouths to feed.

    200 million unrepentant street-crappers. All the pollution, 1/200th the power.

    No ability to spread the population to the suburbs.

    No interstate transport system.

    But we'd still have television. That was invented buy a kid out plowing a field one day in the early '20s. Behind a mule.

    --Blair

    P.S. to the luddite who modded me down: :-P
  • What, did all the clueful people die when Slashdot got sold?

    > lead people to accept lower and lower quality in the name of convenience

    At least you understand that such things exist, even if you don't understand that this is exactly how the economy works. Consumers say "I don't need an elegant instruction set/300 horsepower with burled maple panelling/foie gras. I want cheap access to basic functionality/basic transportation/salt and fat and protein." And buy Wintel/Ford/McDonald's.

    > McNuggets may be fine for the kids occasionally, would you serve it at a board meeting?

    Note I didn't mention any board members by name who work two jobs. Board members don't have to settle for Intel PCs or Ford Escorts. They're not the bulk of the economy. If we were all board members, this would be moot. But that ain't how it works. Understand that, and you'll either become a communist or you'll reject your theory and search for the reasons it does work even though it's not egalitarian. In a couple of decades, you might even get it.

    --Blair
  • Is the Itanium a co-development deal with HP? So cross them off your list.

    On the other hand, there are rumors of rack-mount Mac servers running OS X Server (stop snickering!) about to hit the market, so the PowerPC could improve its market share.

    "What are we going to do tonight, Bill?"

  • And the problem there (IIRC) is that compiler design is very tricky, since the compiler has loads of instructions to choose from and has to get it right every time. It is supposed to be very difficult, if not impossible, to write an optimizing compiler for this architecture. It's been I while since I read about this, so they might have cracked it, but it still sounds like a real obstacle.

    "What are we going to do tonight, Bill?"
  • by Turq (319326) on Monday June 25, 2001 @06:35AM (#130032) Homepage
    Alpha isn't going to die so easily. Keep in mind that Compaq does -not- own all of the Alpha technology. Alpha Processor Inc (www.api.com) holds quite a bit of the liscensing; and while Compaq is involved in API, so are big names like Samsung. Do you thing Samsung and other such partners are going to lose the Alpha CPU just so Compaq and Intel can play kissy-face?
  • the comment about the ESA was, i thought pretty obviously, a joke. at least i found it funny. but then again, i'm an engineer, and we have a lab full of ultra 1's, 2's, 5's and 10's, each of which cost us about as much as a low end camry.
  • by GreyPoopon (411036) <gpoopon&gmail,com> on Monday June 25, 2001 @05:19AM (#130036)
    Actually, this sounds more like the beginning of the end for Alpha. Compaq isn't really transferring Alpha to Intel:

    Under the multi-year technology agreement, Compaq is transferring significant Alpha tools and engineering resources to Intel, as well as granting licenses to Compaq's Alpha microprocessor technology and compilers.

    Based on the above, it looks like they are providing some resources and tools, and licensing the current technology. What this means (IMHO) is that they are partnering with Intel to work towards next-generation processors (Itanium and beyond), and are helping provide Intel with additional resources to improve their 64-bit line. Compaq is, according to the article, also commiting to the release of one more generation of Alpha processors. But, I think you can assume that will be the last. They will be porting their OS technology to Itanium. The plus side to this is that you may see some of the more interesting bits of Alpha technology show up down the line in some of the Intel processors.

    I wonder how all of this will impact AMD....

    GreyPoopon
    --

  • i remember in early 1980's that the breakthrough we were all talking about was that RISC moved management of the processor pipeline from hardware into the compiler. the compiler would be expected to schedule instructions to keep the hardware as busy as possible.

    so the original pholosophy of RISC was to move _all_ complexity into the compiler, and simply allow the hardware to run light like the wind.

    i think first gen RISC's followed that to a 'T', but the philosophy was compromised in the super-scaler generation, because of comercial desire to retain machine code compatibility with the original generation. therefore the superscaler RISCs actually branched from the RISC track, and started providing scheduling in hardware again, for the super-scaler execution order.

    i think VLIW came from a combining of the original RISC philosophy with the CISC micro-programming philosophy of providing as much as much parallelism as possible on the micro-instruction level. so: allow the compiler to gen code for the micro machine. it's a very RISC kind of idea, but with a more hardware oriented outlook.

  • i'm also interested in the idea of 'technology transfer' here, and also in the idea of 'ALPHA is not at the end of it's cycle' from a later message below.

    in 1995 DEC prototyped a multithreaded version of ALPHA in their own lab (softare simulation only, AFAIK) - now it's been all in the news that INTEL is planning a multithreaded versions of the big processors. that may be where ground is fertile for technology transfer!

    BTW, multithreading is a natural outgrowth of super-scaler design: as long as you have multiple compute units around, and it's impossible to keep them all busy from one thread anyway, why not schedule more that one thread through them? as long as you have a large array of registers to be renamed when the instructions complete for one thread, why not extend the renaming for multiple threads?

    i'm way big on that!

  • Give me a break, Compaq fronted the Alpha architecture for a good three years, even when it was obvious that it was more or less dead. How many of their Alpha systems did you buy during that time? Thats what I thought.

    No we won't give you a break, cause you're flat out wrong. Silently burying and fronting are different verbs. A few months after the aquisition, I went to compaq's site to grab some specs on their alpha servers, and it was almost impossible to find. Even when I got to the right place, the pages were littered with promotions for PC storage and desktop systems. It's obvious that they intended to bury the Alpha without much ado.

    I know they've still done excellent engineering, coming up with a very powerful NUMA architecture, but that has happened in spite of Compaq's official line, not because of "fronting"

    Compaq bought DEC for their value as solution provider; their hoards of NT consultants. They never knew what to do with the Alpha.(Or rather, they knew what to do with it, and now they're doing it)

  • No. RISC is a philosophy. It is Reduced Instruction Set COMPLEXITY. You reduce the complexity of a given instruction, even if it means adding more instructions over all. Hense the terms Load/Store vs MOV. The only thing RISCy about x86 is adding L2 cache and FPU to the core, and that's only due to advances in fab technology. "Modern" CISC has nothing else in common with RISC.

"Why should we subsidize intellectual curiosity?" -Ronald Reagan

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