Compaq has surprised many by announcing that it will capitalise on its leadership position in 64 bit architectures by moving Alpha and Digital Unix into volume platforms. In particular, Compaq now wants to drive Alpha to be part of an open industry standard for 64-bit computing, with its partners Intel, Samsung and AMD. To read some analysis, hit the link below.While this move may have been prompted by Intel's 6-month Merced delay, there may be even more substance behind it. Building an EPIC compiler will not only be very difficult, but is also critical to increasing system performance. Alpha on the other hand is a solid RISC architecture with existing NT and Unix compilers. The 6 months slippage may translate into a year or more when one adds the time it'll take before software is shipping, time that Compaq could use to build up its server division. Microsoft also wants to ship NT for warehouse database applications, now, not in 2001. Finally, AMD and Samsung do not have licenses to the IA64 instruction set and patents. A successful Alpha could be a godsend for them. It is therefore entirely possible that Alpha has a good 3-5 years of life in front of it before Merced software reaches Alpha software's level of performance.
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