Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×
HP Digital

Alpha's Going Going Gone 303

WildCode writes "Get your Alphas now cause HP is releasing the last of the Alphas (the final one expected to be released in 2004), and there will be no more." I was already under the mistaken impression that Alpha was dead, so this story is rather bittersweet for me. Still, as far as architectures go, Alpha will probably be among my favorites. It was once vastly ahead of its time, if not severely cost-prohibitive.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Alpha's Going Going Gone

Comments Filter:
  • How about Carly Fiorina with devil horns?

    (But not sexy devil horns like the BSD chick [madchat.org]. Carly is an evil bitch, not a hot booth babe.)

  • ...Its significance changes in the light of newer 64-bit platforms (athlon64, Itanium (sic), PPC G5). Of course, in its time, it was quite something, but that time may have passed--64-bit almost certainly will be mainstream, and will be commoditised in a few years.
    • What was the best about Alpha in its time comparing to SPARC, RS6K, HPPA and SGI of the same price? Had it the fastest speed between CPU and RAM? Had it the fastest system bus? Had the fastest float operations? Integer ones? How about TPC? Please advise. If it is dying then we should remember good technological lessons about it, not only bad management decisions.
      • I haven't looked at Alpha specs in ages, but what impressed me most about it when it first came out was the nice simple clean, you might even call it elegant, design. In particular, I remember the instruction set being a breath of fresh air, logical and simple, and that spoke to me of a good basic design, one that would age well. They started with the proverbial clean sheet and made good choices.

        But it's been way too long since I looked at one, I don't know how the current designs stack up.
        • In particular, I remember the instruction set being a breath of fresh air, logical and simple, and that spoke to me of a good basic design, one that would age well.

          Yeah, I remember the same thing. Unfortunately, it didn't age well. Don't know if that should tell us something... Maybe that marketshare is more important than technical benefits? May all future good designs rest in peace!

        • Re:Some old niceties (Score:3, Informative)

          by Bert64 ( 520050 )
          Indeed, Alpha, unlike all the other 64bit processors mentioned, was designed from the ground up as a 64bit cpu, rather than a 32bit cpu with 64bit extensions added in. Itanic was supposed to be designed like this too, but they screwed it up somewhat.. All the other 64bit architectures have to retain some compatibility with older 32bit architectures. Alpha maintained compatibility via software emulation, and did so very well simply because of the huge performance difference between the last of the VAX and th
      • by GreatDrok ( 684119 ) on Saturday October 18, 2003 @11:27AM (#7248334) Journal
        I have liked alphas since I first laid hands on one back in 1993 when it was running OSF.

        I have a few of them kicking around my house, a couple of EV6s and an EV4 that still does sterling service.

        Alphas were always fast, both integer and floating point, however it was the FP performance that really made them popular for scientific applications. Once the EV6s arrived the integer performance increased considerably over the previous EV5s with the addition of four integer pipelines (EV5s had two each for integer and FP) and also register renaming and instruction reordering. Alphas have 32 64 bit integer registers and 32 floating point registers, but an additional 32 showed up in the EV6 which allows the processor to do a lot more work per clock cycle along with the extra pipelines and out of order execution. The other great thing that EV6 introduced (well, actually the 21164PC chip introduced it but it wasn't as useful as the 264 EV6) was MVI. This is the equivalent of the Intel SSE/MMX instructions but the MVI instructions had direct access to memory as they were 64 bits wide just like any other instruction on the chip. This meant it was trivial to load up a 64 bit word and then do parallel work on the data such as sum or max.

        Instructions also executed very quickly, typical of a RISC chip, and the processors had very large caches for their day (2MB being typical but server chips had much more than that). Even access to main memory was very quick, the EV6 bus was also used on the Athlon for this reason.

        So, you essentially had in Alpha a processor that has able to crunch integer and FP data very quickly, had a fat bus to memory with a cache large enough to be useful and lots of general purpose registers, extended parallel instructions that worked easily with the existing instruction set, one which looks like an high level language it is that easy to use. They also had very high clock speeds for their day and used those cycles very efficiently, Alphas were running over 500Mhz when Intel was putting out sub 200Mhz 32 bit chips that struggled to do more than a no-op in the time that an Alpha could do a fourier transform!

        Unlike Itanic, the Alpha was designed to make compilers easy to write, Compaq released the DEC compiler to work under Linux and it was amazing to see the boost in speed that came about when that was used. The fact that the EV6 was so smart meant that the compiler didn't need to be all that clever to make code that Alpha could run very quickly. It was pretty simple to avoid cache misses and other performance sapping problems.

        Compared with other processors of their day such as SPARC the Alpha was at least twice as quick if not more. It is only as Compaq took over and took their foot of the pedal and speed ramps dried up that other architectures caught up but it took some time. If they had continued to keep pace with die shrinks and clock speed increases Alpha would have been embarrassing its competitors even today, in fact it still is if you witness the fact that HP won't release benchmarks for EV7 until Itanium can beat it.

        So, yes, Alpha was great and I haven't even touched upon EV7 as I never got my hands on one and I'm not likely to now. Damn HP. Damn them to hell!

        From what I have heard it is quite likely that Alpha EV8 technology will live on as the next gen Itanium, effectively something like the current Pentium where the Itanium instruction set will be wrapped around and Alpha style core with translation to make it seem like an Itanium. Yuk.

        As I said, Damn HP.
        • by fitten ( 521191 ) on Saturday October 18, 2003 @12:38PM (#7248617)
          The fact that the EV6 was so smart meant that the compiler didn't need to be all that clever to make code that Alpha could run very quickly.

          I guess "smart" is a relative term I guess how you apply it. If you say the designers were smart in making the chip very simple (dumb) which made compilers easy to write because there weren't that many ways to do a particular thing well, then I'd agree with this statement.

          The thing about the Alphas were they really were RISC. The 21064 has *horrible* performance with strings and byte oriented operations because byte level addressing was not present in the instruction set. String manipulation and the like were synthesized in the libraries by using shifts, masks, and such. Not a very *smart* CPU... quite dumb actually (not that this is a bad thing... it made it simple). The story was that the designers were a little too purist with the first Alpha and "underestimated" the amount of byte level operation/addressing that was used or something or just wanted to really make the Alpha a number cruncher. At this level of the architecture, there was no out of order execution or the like. A pipeline stall caused *everything* to stop until the memory request was handled.

          Very shortly after the 21064, byte level addressing and manipulation was put into the Alpha line. Of course, this was really nice and improved a lot of those type operations. Also, out of order execution was put in at a later point. That was the really nice Alpha.

          As far as living on... there are many CPUs today that have at least a part of their lineage with the Alpha. Either their FSB (Athlon), their philosphy (high clock speeds), or direct decendents (StrongARM).

          Another bit of history: at the time the Alpha was released, HP had another CPU that they liked a lot. It was the PA8000 family. The PA followed the "wide" philosophy of processor speed - it had lots of execution units, out of order execution, and all the other stuff that we see a lot of today. The problem was that all of that extra circuitry made it *extremely* difficult to ramp up the clock speed. People referred to this camp of design as the "Brainiacs" because they did a lot per clock cycle and the clock speed was fairly low because of the complexity of the chip. The Alpha camp was called the "Speed freaks" in that they believed high clock speed was first, then later design in the complexity. Anyway, the PA8000 and the Alpha started out about the same speed but HP just couldn't keep up with the clock speed ramp up of the Alpha.

          So... I guess back to the original topic... the Alpha was easy to write compilers for early on because of the simplicity of the instruction set (the chip is "dumb"). Later, when the Alpha crew added the byte operations/addressing it simplified some library writing. Later, out of order execution and such were added which didn't really impact the complexity of the instruction set as much as just made the compiler better. The OOE is where the "smarts" came in.
          • or direct decendents (StrongARM).

            Excellent and very informative post, however, that bit is wrong, the SA110 had nothing to do with AXP. Completely different processor, from instruction set to design goals.

            at the time the Alpha was released, HP had another CPU that they liked a lot. It was the PA8000 family

            At the time Alpha was released HP did not have the PA8000 family, that came out in 1996, Alpha was released in 1992 IIRC. HP at that time were using 32bit PA7000s [wikipedia.org], it seems. Further: "had another" -
            • Compaq who had acquired DEC in 1999

              After counting back through the years, I think it was actually late '98. But the merging process didnt really kick in until '99 - and even so, many DEC sites never had any compaq equivalent to merge with, DEC being vastly bigger than Compaq. Indeed, the merger changed Compaq far more than it did DEC. :)
        • I have a few of them kicking around my house, a couple of EV6s and an EV4 that still does sterling service.

          Ah, the joys of 92.5% [silversmithing.com] uptime.
      • Try this - back in 1994 ie in the days when PCs could just about do fast 2D graphcis in VGA without passing out the firm I worked for rented an 64 bit alpha box.
        That was the 1st machine I'd EVER seen full screen mpeg run on, and by full screen I'm talking full colour 2048 x 1152 , not shitty 16 colour VGA. *THAT* was how good alpha was.
      • Alpha's actually were cheaper than the competing Workstations chips. The Alpha 21164 workstations cost a few thousand, just above high-end PC workstations and /below/ the likes of SGI's and Sun's workstations. DEC did try to commoditise the AXP, eg the 21064 based DEC Multia wasnt too expensive and aimed at the corporate desktop market.

        Further, you cant really compare Alpha to SPARC, it was 32 bit! Even Sun's UltraSPARC workstations did not support userland 64bit support until Solaris 8. SGI did not have 6
    • While Alpha may be dead, many of its technologies, such as Hypertransport, will live on.

      Dead computer projects are like organ donors, in that pieces of them will live on.
  • by fuchsiawonder ( 574579 ) on Saturday October 18, 2003 @10:21AM (#7248097)
    I'm sorry, I just can't put my support behind a server that doesn't have stupid rhyming commericials for it.

    Are Alphas "utterly buyable, give 'em a tryable"?

    I think not.
  • dead? (Score:3, Funny)

    by acidrain69 ( 632468 ) on Saturday October 18, 2003 @10:29AM (#7248126) Journal
    I dunno, the server on my floor seems to be chugging away nicely with Debian.
  • They've been producing CPUs and doing development of these processors for maybe 5 years now. What's happening with that?
    • HAHAHAHAHA!

      Samsung tried. It was called Alpha Processor Inc, then API NetWorks. I won't go into why it failed.

      I worked at API and got laid-off 2+ years ago.

      Alpha is over. Unless you are an existing customer who needs to keep their VMS and Tru64 systems going until the VMS/Itanic port is done (already booting) or until you're ready to move to HP/UX from Tru64, Alpha is dead.

      My next system will be an AMD64.
    • I had also heard that perhaps China was doing someting with an Alpha clone.

      I thought there was someting based on Alpha at OpenCores. But I went to look and didn't see anything.

      So then I went over to the CPU Howto [fokus.gmd.de] and following a link [uregina.ca]at the bottom I learned that there is a real problem with the Alpha in that compared to some of the designs we're seeing today it was power hungry. It was scaleable, but not really suitable to a power conscious consumer market.

      • I can agree with that. The DEC Server 5000 (comparable to an AS4100) has 2 power supplies, each is 450 watts. Monsters. Each one is 2-3 times the size of an ATX PSU. These beasties power a 7 drive SCSI bay (6 7200rpm drives and a tape drive) + CDRom, 2 CPU cards with 2 533mhz EV56 chips. It's loud too. Two giant fans cool the internals, plus whatever is in the PSU's. I'm sure it does a number on my power bill. That and the fact I can't run a lot of x86 only stuff under linux is slowly pushing me to replace
  • You just can't beat the economics of many cheap x86 boxes running some free OS. I think all the major players will eventually learn this, if they haven't already. And Google is the argument that you can just beat people down with. One of the most highly resilient, scalable, intensive solutions around today.
    • Are you referring to the Opteron? or the Itanium? They aren't that cheap, and they just came out.

      There are some instances where 64-bit processors are absolutely necessary. The alpha was used in those instances.
    • " You just can't beat the economics of many cheap x86 boxes running some free OS."

      I don't think this applies much to the demise of the alphas. One place alphas are popular is in scientific computing, and many of these tasks can't be split this way. If I have some code doing ugly computations on 50 MB data sets, I can't split this over a bunch of cheap boxes. The "many cheap x86 boxes" works when you have a server on which 100 people are trying to do small things simultaneously, but when you have one pe

  • by overbyj ( 696078 )
    that the Alpha is being put out to pasture. This is one amazing chip and it was at one time lightyears ahead of anything Intel put out. I honestly believe that HP is making a mistake here by ditching this chip. Sure R&D costs of chip design and production are enormous but HP is hitching their wagon to the Itanic? At least use AMD and their good processors, especially the encouraging new 64 bit chip. The Itanium is about to truly become the laughstock of the microprocessor world.

    If HP (and before Compaq
    • by joto ( 134244 ) on Saturday October 18, 2003 @11:40AM (#7248391)
      This is one amazing chip and it was at one time lightyears ahead of anything Intel put out. I honestly believe that HP is making a mistake here by ditching this chip. Sure R&D costs of chip design and production are enormous but HP is hitching their wagon to the Itanic?

      The Alpha was formerly Compaq and even before that a Digital invention. HP has their PA-RISC architecture, of which Itanium was planned from the start to replace (one of the design requirements for Itanium was that a software translator for binary PA-RISC code was made possible).

      Furthermore, as far as I know, the Alpha is still produced by Intel, not by HP/Compaq/Digital, as Compaq sold their alpha plants, personell and all associated IP to Intel (and thus avoided a lawsuit, as well as ensuring the Alphas future for a few years). There were also plans for a Itanium version of Tru64 (formerly Digital Unix), but I am unsure as to whether it was ever commercialized.

      All in all. It seems like a pretty sound business decision to me. This is what "they" have planned all along, for many years, whether "they" are Digital, Compaq, HP, or Intel.

    • The "Intel Inside" TV ads, and other media blasts about Intal has convinced those who make the purchasing decisions that there is only one CPU worth anything. The CxO's have been seduced by the ads (sublimal suggestions?). The fact that Intel does NOT have the best chip architecture does not matter. Intel can supply 64-bit CPUs to HP cheaper than HP can make the Aplha and that marks the last days of the Alpha. Why make something no one wants at a cost higher than you can buy a similar product? It's good bu
    • Why would you be surprised that HP is throwing their weight behind it? Also, Alpha technology has been trickling into Intel processors for years.

      Yes, the biggest things Intel has going for it is fab capacity, economies of scale, and the natural trend toward commodization. Of course, that is a tough hand to beat. Intel is also famous for superior management and some of the best quality control processes in the world. Companies like AMD aspire to have quality control like Intel.
  • When Alpha died (Score:5, Insightful)

    by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Saturday October 18, 2003 @10:59AM (#7248234) Journal
    I was already under the mistaken impression that Alpha was dead

    No, it wasn't a mistaken impression at all... Alpha died about 1997, when Compaq bought DEC, and squandered the assets of a great company. Sure, they were still turning out machines, but the Alpha was as good as dead from that point on. I figured maybe HP would know what Compaq didn't, and resurect the Alpha, but they are beholden to Intel, so that didn't happen.

    Believe it or not, even though it's been dead for the past 6 years, it could still be resurected...

    For one, Intel has bought the rights the the Alpha, so they could use some of the same ideas in their Itanium and Pentium chips. The miserable failure of the Itanium is quite encouraging, because that could mean the only way they can get a leg-up on AMD64, would be to start making Alphas... It's wishful thinking on my part, but Intel would have much to gain.

    Long-live the Alpha.
    • Compaq acquired DEC late 98. However it was /DEC/ which squandered Alpha - the squandering of excellent DEC engineering by management was a long-standing DEC problem. (its precisely why Compaq were able to take over DEC in the first place).
  • Now HP can afford to buy some more private jets for their execs to fly around in.

    70,000,000 USD for 2 GS5's. Shows what they REALLY care about.
  • This is a good opportunity for me to try to get rid of my old alpha XL 266'es. Free to good home to anyone in the southeastern Mass area who wants to come pick them up.

    I had two of them running, the third was basically spare parts. Two booted Redhat 6.0 (might have been 6.2) and were running PostgreSQL quite happily. Specs? um... beyond the fact that they are 266 MHz Alphas, I have basically no idea on memory or hard drive space.

    If you're interested, email me at ghuntress at com cast dot net and
  • Suppose I wanted to buy a single-processor Alpha 67 or 7 or 79 motherboard or box. Can anybody post what would be the lowest price? HP makes it pretty hard to look up. TIA.
    • Suppose I wanted to buy a single-processor Alpha 67 or 7 or 79 motherboard or box. Can anybody post what would be the lowest price? HP makes it pretty hard to look up. TIA

      I don't think HP has any channels by which an individual can purchase a single Alpha system. They are mostly interested in large bids by corporations or other entities, and they conduct these through contacts with a sales team.

      This is one shortcoming DEC had also that really limited the ability of the Alpha to even approach mainstre

    • >
      I wanted to buy a single-processor Alpha 67 or 7 or 79 motherboard

      Try Samsung or API.

    • Try Ebay with the right search terms. You might even find a beauty with Debian already on it for $125 [ebay.com]. Let the dumbasses get WinXP pro on their Itanic, har har har. I will eat cake.

  • Some Alpha FAQs: Alpha powered machines still are used to validate every pentium that comes off the production line. Intel was sued by DEC for using Alpha technology in their chips. Then after the Compaq aquisition most of the Alpha devleopment team went to Intel. After the HP aquisistion the Alpha became became the red headed step child times 2. After all, a 5 year old alpha processors was STILL kicking the brand new super domes butt. Can't have that! Microsoft was sued by DEC because the creator of
    • Even though it is little recgonized, it's influence in chip design (but not marketing) will be felt for some time to come.

      I totally agree. I used to work in the chip design world and remember one day when a university prof I knew was almost giddy showing me this circuit technique that was being used in the (then) new Alphas.

    • >

      Microsoft learned a lot about making a 64 bit OS from it's Alpha experience.

      Actually very little, the Alpha was killed before MS had anything more than a prototype. That work seems to have been mostly scrapped, as its leader Dave Custer wanted to break backwards compatibility to save MS-WNT from the big problems it still has.

      >

      Many see the next step in 64 bit Intel Chips as the EV8 come to life - with Intel spin.

      Not at all. Intel would love us to think that, but the truth is that the EPIC

      • > Microsoft learned a lot about making a 64 bit OS from it's Alpha experience.
        Actually very little, the Alpha was killed before MS had anything more than a prototype. That work seems to have been mostly scrapped, as its leader Dave Custer wanted to break backwards compatibility to save MS-WNT from the big problems it still has.


        Funny - Especially considering that NT on the Alpha was a shipping product for several years - like between 1993 and 1999.

        In fact, when the Alpha was introduced at the 1992 Co
        • >
          NT on the Alpha was a shipping product

          We were talking 64 bits. MS-WNT on the Alpha was 32-bits only.

          But then I should have been clearer. Writing only once, or even worse only quoting, makes for overlooking.

  • I love my Alpha (Score:2, Interesting)

    by idnopheq ( 322250 )
    I love my Alpha!

    I acquired it when a previous employer did a massive house cleaning. Anything not obviously non-Intel was givin a DOS floppy to boot off of. If it failed, it was dumpster fodder.

    Rescued from the trash, my Alpha has been "beauty, eh" for me for 3.5+ years. Initially I ran RedHat on it (which was ok), then upgraded to FreeBSD.

    My only reboots/downtime has been due to power outrages, hardware expansion, and kernel upgrades.

    I've added an ATA-100 controller, slapped in a SoundBlaster, and h
  • by eap ( 91469 )
    Does anyone know which Alpha machines can actually run OpenVMS? I have searched for this information on the 'net and in the VMS faq, but I can't find a conclusive list of what will and won't run it.
    • Systems for which Compaq would actually give a license (maybe more would run it):

      Alpha Enterprise System Class:

      Model number = QL-xxxxQ-AA

      Note: Site Specific quotes are prepared for GS systems.

      DEC 4000 series
      DEC 7000 series
      DEC 10000 series
      AlphaServer 8200
      AlphaServer 8400

      Alpha Departmental System Class:

      Model number = QL-xxxxG-AA

      DEC 35xx, 38xx, 3900
      DIGITAL 2100 A500/600MP
      AlphaServer 2000, 2100, 4000, 4100
      AlphaStation 600

      Alpha Workgroup System Class:

      Model number = QL-xxxxE-AA

      DEC 2300S, 2500, 33xx, 34x
    • besides that dinasaur list I gave (1998 and before), here's the latest HP ones:

      High End
      GS1280
      GS320
      GS160
      GS80

      Enterprise AlphaServers
      ES40
      ES45
      ES47
      ES80

      Entry level
      DS25
      DS20E
      DS20L
      DS15
      DS10
  • If your vendor dies, you can just move applications to a new platform and the users will not notice a difference. With native code, good luck if the company is still alive. Even with open source, recompile will expose all kind of bugs.
    • Huh? Because the Alpha was all about speed, and now you are touting VMs? Do you think things tend to run faster on VMs?

      If your vendor dies, you can just move applications to a new platform and the users will not notice a difference.

      Well, the VM is a platform too. If the vendor dies, you either have to find another vendor, or start porting. There were no greater risc involved in choosing Alpha. After being slaughtered in '97, it's still available, and will be for yet another generation. And even after i

  • by beldraen ( 94534 ) <chad.montplaisir ... m ['l.c' in gap]> on Saturday October 18, 2003 @12:00PM (#7248460)
    Having worked on Alphas (and VAXs for that matter) in my previous job for six years, I have to say good-bye to an old friend. It was, for me, an incredibly powerful platform that did so many data oriented tasks so easily. The multitasking performance was amazing. We, for the longest time, ran on a VAX that was the equivalent to about a 486-120 MHz machine that could handle thirty developers. At the same time, it could handle thirty clients running reports. In general, we didn't notice each other. The Alphas put that system to shame. I often had to remember that I was working with multi-gigbyte files and processing them in seconds, not hours like on a PC. But, I suspose we'll have to use the "future" of PC hardware until it eventually catches up to the past.. =)
    • We, for the longest time, ran on a VAX that was the equivalent to about a 486-120 MHz machine that could handle thirty developers.

      One of the nice thing about DECs is that they thought in terms of lines, not characters - so you didn't have to send a packet (and hence do kernel work) with every key press. That alone was enough to give VAXen running VMS a huge edge over the same-generation Unix kit from rivals.
    • The Alpha is still, believe me, a good processor. Check out the list of the top 500 computers on the world, and you will see that the second and the fourth biggest computers on the world are ASCII Q and ASCII White. They are clusters of thousand of Alpha servers, and a testemony of the strenght of this processor. Now the Alpha might be expensive and not have a good cost/performance ratio, but, if you need serious performance, it is still a contender.

      I believe that the death of Alpha is closely related to

  • by Rohan427 ( 521859 ) on Saturday October 18, 2003 @12:03PM (#7248468)
    That's what we called them when I worked at DIGITAL (up until Compaq canned a lot of people right after the purchase and almost killed the Alpha then).

    They are still ahead of their time. The fastest Alpha's (EV8, over 1GHz) were still far faster than an equivalent speed x86 processor.

    I've heard repeatedly that Samsung will still be producing the processors. I have not looked into this recently though.

    It's a shame to lose such a great architecture. Yet another example of the best ideas not always being the most popular or surviving. At least part of the architecture will live on in AMD chips (for now at least).

    PGA
    • Why did it never take off in the way x86 did? I remember a few years ago seeing adverts for Alpha-based workstations, around the 400-600MHz mark, back at a time when Intel wasn't shipping anything faster than around 200MHz. They came with Windows NT, and FX32! (an x86 emulator, that let them run x86 windows apps at a reasonable speed). This advert was in a main-stream computer magazine (Computer Shopper, about 20 pages in). They were priced competitively (price / performance wise) with Intel kit, and co
      • Back when the alpha's were so far ahead they were about the lap the competition in terms of performance, you had two choices for supported operating systems: VMS or OSF (aka Tru64). VMS was in a coma by then (although its innate greatness has kept it alive even until now) and Tru64 was the 4th or 5th unix platform that vendors would port to (after Solaris, IRIX, HP-UX, and AIX). It was also somewhat trickier to port to since you had to clean your code to be 64bit safe. So there weren't that many programs
      • As a Windows workstation, it was pretty much worthless because other than MS Office and some CAD software, there weren't any native applications. Everything had to be run through emulation, which killed the price/performance.

        As a Windows server, the Alpha had much better software support -- almost every major Windows server package ran on it. My company at the time was considering buying them, but DEC's salesmen were too incompetent to get us a working demo machine.

        As enkidu said, the UNIX software situat
    • We've also heard, from within Samsung, that they will be producing Alphas for some time. But, at the same time, they seem to be migrating their internal IT use of Alpha to other platforms (lack of OS Vendor support).

      My experience with Alpha development is only so-so. A great architecture, and a solid OS, but porting to it was almost as painful as HPuX -- for C++ at least. That really taught us a lesson, too, that C++ portability is still way back there. We found the same with Java too, at least on Alph
  • Intel has already announced that the Alpha design team that it hired intact from HP is working on the "Tanglewood" Itanium version due in 2006
  • You know, this is amazing......

    There are absolutely *NO* "Alpha is dying" trolls in this topic.

    Now *that* is a sign of the coming apocalypse. :)
  • According to all the Compaq/HP rep's that come to our place the Intel Itanium 2 processor and future 64-bit Intel chip are in large part Alpha code. That the lawsuit of a few years back with Intel and DEC resulted in Intel getting rights to the Alpha technology and they started rolling the Alpha code in with the Itanium 2 chip. That's the smack the Compaq/HP droids are spewing.
    • Intel Itanium 2 processor and future 64-bit Intel chip are in large part Alpha code.

      I don't think code is exactly the term I'd use for incorporating Alpha design and technology into another product.

    • That the lawsuit of a few years back with Intel and DEC resulted in Intel getting rights to the Alpha technology

      Ironically, that was a lawsuit which /DEC/ won. As part of the settlement, DEC got ~$110m, intel got to buy:

      - DEC's Hudson FAB
      - alpha rights (non-exclusive due to FTC ruling, hence reason why Samsung made alphas too)
      - rights to just about every design in DEC Semiconductor's portfolio.

      And more no doubt.

      To this day, if you buy a generic multi-port NIC (eg D-Link), it likely has an intel 21174 P
  • Ok, it is wishful thinking, but wouldn't it be damned nice to have a high performance royalty free 64 compiler friendly CPU core, as a hedge against the onslaught of "trusted computing"?
  • Alphas weren't inherently expensive. Most were good servers and workstations, with special internal busses and memory interconnection; you paid for the whole system. The personal systems, such as the PWs, Multias and the clones, were actually good value and price.

    By the time MS killed the MS-WNT port, and Compaq took over, there was a notebook part in the works, and the Samsung clones would help it gain volume and lower prices... Intel managed to kill everything just in time to avoid being trampled by s

    • NEC released two notebooks with Alpha processors. They also had SCSI 2.5" drives - I beleive an option on one was to have 500MB flashRAM SCSI drive - that option (again if not mistaken was $4400 (in addition to the laptop) - they were mostly used by Telephone Companies and Utility/Energy companies. I know my local Duke Power line workers had a few. (My mother leases apartments to Duke Power transients - so I kept up with their technology) - Duke Power moved to Apple PowerBook Duos and currently use Panasoni
      • >
        NEC released two notebooks with Alpha processors. They also had SCSI 2.5" drives

        While these sound like having been nice systems, they weren't widely successfull because they used standard desktop Alphas. The notebook-specific version of the Alpha, geared towards low power consumption and cool running, never saw the light of the day.

        I still regret not being able to buy a RISC SCSI portable.

    • Alphas weren't inherently expensive. Most were good servers and workstations, with special internal busses and memory interconnection; you paid for the whole system. The personal systems, such as the PWs, Multias and the clones, were actually good value and price.

      And that was a big part of the problem. DEC's senior management firmly believed that price/performace translated to end user prices, in spite of being told over and over that customers were not willing to pay twice as much for a system that was

      • >

        they were also not willing to pay a premium for DEC's legendary reliability engineering

        But it wasn't DEC who needed to lower prices -- the clonemakers did that.

        There were other problems playing here. Volumes were never big enough for the clonemakers to get real economies of scale, since MS failed to port anything but compilers and server software. No MS VB until near the end, no full MS Office (only MS Word and Excel), no 64 bits, no optimisation, no marketing or advertisement... this last was a

      • Before Alpha, the DEC VAX line was beating IBM big iron for price/performance. When Alpha came out, it was priced to beat VAX on price/performance. But DEC had a problem -- the VAX revenue stream would disappear overnight if all the VAXes were replaced with Alphas. They HAD to keep the prices artificially high, because they had VAX customers perfectly willing to pay a little more for alot more power. Unfortunately, that limited the market and gave Intel a chance to survive in the low-end server and desk
  • I can see dropping the Alpha; it's an idea whose time has passed. But in favor of the Intel Itanium?

    The Register reports on Itanium sales [theregister.co.uk], or rather lack thereof. HP sold 3,178 Itanium servers in Q2 2003. HP is the only vendor selling Itaniums in any quantity. Total Itanium sales from IBM and Dell are something like 20 units per quarter.

    Would somebody please take the Inanium off life support?

  • Was the DECpc AXP 150 [microsoft.com] with an Alpha chip... announced May 25, 1993 [google.com].

    All this foofaraw [google.com] over the G5 [apple.com] and Athlon 64 [amd.com] is just revisionist history. ;)

  • by Epistax ( 544591 )
    I just had an interview with these people. He explained how first they were company A then bought by B, C and finally D (intel). He latched on to the project somewhere between B and C. From what he says, the Alpha architecture is vastly superior to what they are currently working with for Itanium (EPIC). This doesn't mean much to me, but it may to someone else.
  • I'm an alpha owner, I've got 2. I think they are great machines, it's a beautiful and clean architecture, but how exactly are they far ahead of MIPS or PowerPC?

    They were the first to have really high clock speeds and it was a terrible abortion at first, the rest of the system was slow enough that the processor routinely stalled waiting for data. They migrated to a slightly different architecture that has a very sophisticated caching system, with the same problems, but it was a bit easier to get code in

People who go to conferences are the ones who shouldn't.

Working...