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End Of The Line For Alpha

CmdrTaco posted more than 10 years ago | from the its-a-riscy-business dept.

Digital 514

Scareduck writes "Infoworld reports HP has released the last iteration of the Alpha chip. I used these babies in the late 90's, and for a time, they were da bomb. Sadly, the economics weren't there, DEC management really didn't have much of a clue, and Alpha has, at long last, bit the dust. Alpha-based servers will continue to be sold through 2006, and supported through 2011. Farewell, Alpha; the world's line of chips seems to have declined to Intel and a handful of niche guys." Slashdot ran for the first 7 or 8 months off an Alpha box.

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Shouldn't they rename it (5, Funny)

Stop the war now! (662586) | more than 10 years ago | (#10005815)

to "Omega" then?

Re:Shouldn't they rename it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10006096)

That's the name of my BSD-box.

Re:Shouldn't they rename it (2, Funny)

jayhawk88 (160512) | more than 10 years ago | (#10006148)

You Bastards! You blew it up!

Oops, wrong movie.

Have you ever made love to a dog? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10005817)

Have you ever sucked off a dog? Have you ever had a dog's dick in your mouth? Can you remember what it felt like to run your tongue over it? Do you remember him panting and turning his head to lick you all over? Does the memory of him remind you of the taste of his semen? Have you ever made love to a dog?

For the curious:

If you want to know what a dog's penis tastes like, lick the underside of your wrist just after taking a shower. A dog's penis tastes something like that. No kidding! If you don't believe me, try it yourself. A dog's penis is kept clean in a protective covering called a sheath. Dogs do not sweat, so there's very little taste at all. The texture of a dog's penis is very smooth. Nothing else compares to how slick it is. A melty popsicle comes close, though. Dog semen has been described as having a metallic electrical taste, like licking across the terminals of a battery. The taste is subjective, but it's what you might expect semen to taste. You have tasted your own before, right? Dog's cum has a higher water content than a human's and thus is a little more dilute.

There you go. That wasn't too bad, was it?

Well (0, Redundant)

Sv-Manowar (772313) | more than 10 years ago | (#10005819)

I for one, welcome our new Intel overlords

Re:Well (1)

Kourino (206616) | more than 10 years ago | (#10006077)

I don't :(

Re:Well (5, Funny)

fader (107759) | more than 10 years ago | (#10006114)

Shouldn't that be "I for 1.000000000317"? Or did they fix that bug?
(-1, reference to overblown P1 rounding errors)

Re:Well (3, Funny)

avronius (689343) | more than 10 years ago | (#10006170)

I am Pentium of Borg
Division is futile
You will be approximated

(stolen from a sig - circa Pentium I)

Close to first post? (-1, Offtopic)

doppleganger871 (303020) | more than 10 years ago | (#10005821)

Maybe I am... who knows. Never used a DEC system myself, tho.

Beta (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10005825)

Damn, sure took them a while to get to Beta...

Re:Beta (0, Redundant)

donkeyoverlord (688535) | more than 10 years ago | (#10005880)

See it's not only open source projects that never make it to version 1.0!

Personally, I'm not buying until ... (1)

burgburgburg (574866) | more than 10 years ago | (#10006003)

they get to at least Epsilon.

Re:Beta (5, Interesting)

attam (806532) | more than 10 years ago | (#10006059)

incidentally, at MIT there is a course called 6.004 (Computation Structures) that all CS and EE undergrads have to take... in that class we implement a simulator for a processor called the "Beta" which is essentially a scaled-down alpha...

At last... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10005828)

one of the "X is Dead" comments can be true!

Sad (5, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 10 years ago | (#10005835)

It's truly scary how the Intel is becoming the only mainstream chip architecture left alive. Pretty good for something that intel originally created as a stopgap solution! I'm just hoping that UltraSparcs don't go anywhere.

BTW, better colors [slashdot.org] .

Re:Sad (0, Offtopic)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 10 years ago | (#10005865)

Doh! better colors try #2 [slashdot.org]

Re:Sad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10006035)

wow. the left menus are overlapping the thread area.

you

fail

it

Better colors? Running a filtering proxy? (0, Offtopic)

plover (150551) | more than 10 years ago | (#10006048)

I'm running The Proxomitron, and I simply added a new filter that replaces "it . slashdot . org" with "slashdot.org" (munging required because the filter affects my preview!) So it took me a little while to figure out what your "better colors" meant, as I already had them.

Re:Sad (5, Insightful)

plover (150551) | more than 10 years ago | (#10005922)

I read this in the article too, and all I could think was "but what about the PowerPC family?" Is that all the Mac is: a "niche" player?

And who knows what the future will bring? AMD may diverge so far from Intel that they may eventually be considered their own architecture.

I think the chip market is about as dead as *BSD (*according to Netcraft.)

Re:Sad (5, Insightful)

sp0rk173 (609022) | more than 10 years ago | (#10006103)

yeah i'm agreeing with this one. I hope PPC starts really moving - it's got some damn nice architecture behind it...POWER5's are going to be awesome. I would love to see the market open up for PPC, and start to see them sold next to Athlons and P4's.

As far as AMD goes, they did a damn fine thing with AMD64. Hopefully they keep it up and keep diverging from intel, while still offering a cheaper and (in some cases) technologically superior competating product. I would hate to see the day when Intel really does own the processor market.

Don't forget PowerPC (5, Insightful)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 10 years ago | (#10005935)

I'd say the PowerPC is a pretty mainstream architecture, considering how it shows up in everything from workstations to Power Macs to Cisco routers. Also -- sad, maybe, but scary? PC computers are kind of a niche market compared to all of the embedded applications out there. So what if it's all based on old Intel ideas, so long as you've got folks like AMD and Transmeta to keep pushing the envelope?

Re:Sad (2, Interesting)

Ghost-in-the-shell (103736) | more than 10 years ago | (#10005963)

What is really sad is you have not heard of the highly powerful, and successful AMD series of chips and well as the Motorola chip sets.

When it comes to the PC market sure the Intel Chips are popular, but the Motorola chips are used far more in other technology applications. Like Telephone Switches, routers, calculators and so forth.

Do a little looking around. I have only ever seen Intel stamped on the backs of chips in the PC markets.

Re:Sad (5, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 10 years ago | (#10006023)

What is really sad is you have not heard of the highly powerful, and successful AMD series of chips

You mean the one's BASED on Intel's architecture?

as the Motorola chip sets

No one uses Motorola's chips for PCs anymore. All of Apple's PowerPC chips come from IBM, and IBM uses its bigger cousin (the POWER chip) in its Unix servers.

Of course, I'm not a big IBM fan so I tend to have selective memory about those.

and VIA (1)

essreenim (647659) | more than 10 years ago | (#10006058)

have som epretty neat processors.
I have no laptop, but my first one will be VIA based!

Re:Sad (2, Interesting)

dj245 (732906) | more than 10 years ago | (#10006051)

I think its OK that there's only one mainstream architecture, as long as there is more than one company making it. That way, they can compete against each other to make architectures that will be used in the future, and the best architecture hopefully will win. We're already seeing that with AMD64 and Itanium. Arguably, the better architecture won.

As long as there is competition for architectures, advancements in architecture will continue. Does it really matter that there is only one mainstream architecture?

Re:Sad (1)

mikael (484) | more than 10 years ago | (#10006083)

What about Sony's "Cell" architecture?

Re:Sad (1)

boisepunk (764513) | more than 10 years ago | (#10006102)

It's truly scary how the Intel is becoming the only mainstream chip architecture left alive.

I'd hate to give any kind of praise or credit to Apple, but the above statement is not true. There's plenty of machines out there running on the famous PowerPC architecture.

I thougt apple was the first 64 bit PC??? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10005838)

And the fastest, too.

Whuh?

You can't handle the truth. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10005918)

Go pick on Realplayer today, apple zealots !!!

Barely Knew Ya... (1)

blueZhift (652272) | more than 10 years ago | (#10005848)

Goodbye Alpha, I barely knew ya... I remember at Fermilab when we got our first batch of Alpha powered Vaxes how wicked fast they were. And I think Altavista was running on Alphas in those days too.

Re:Barely Knew Ya... (4, Informative)

jpmkm (160526) | more than 10 years ago | (#10005992)

IIRC, Altavista(originally altavista.digital.com) was just a little demo project used to show off the digital alpha systems that it ran on.

amd is niche?? (1)

lavaface (685630) | more than 10 years ago | (#10005854)

interesting . . . doesn't seem that way to me

Re:amd is niche?? (2, Insightful)

MoralHazard (447833) | more than 10 years ago | (#10005949)

I think we're conflating "manufacturer" with "architecture", here. AMD's 32-bit offerings are basically software-compatible with Intel's 32-bit stuff (the exceptions would be SSE2 and such).

I guess the poster's point was that there aren't any widely-used architectures out there besides the x86 stuff, which was originally developed by Intel, was a solely Intel offering for a very long time (close to 15 years, I think), and which is still synonymous with Intel. Despite the fact that AMD, VIA, and a couple of other outfits make x86 CPUs.

Re:amd is niche?? (1)

Mateito (746185) | more than 10 years ago | (#10006005)

Agreed.

If Taco had was talking about architectures, you could lump it all under Intel, but AMD are definitely a force.

Maybe they're enhanced instruction sets will set them apart in the future.

Wouldn't suprise me if we see some collaboration between AMD and Sun on a hybrid Risc set at some point in the future.

Re:amd is niche?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10006038)

AMD chips are the same architecture as Intel's. The poster was obviously referring to architectures, not manufacturers.

Re:amd is niche?? (1)

fitten (521191) | more than 10 years ago | (#10006134)

AMD has their own line of RISC type microcontroller processors (AMD29000 IIRC is one of them) in addition to their Intel x86 ISA processors.

Heh (5, Funny)

Burgundy Advocate (313960) | more than 10 years ago | (#10005859)

Isn't this the fourth or fifth time Alpha has died? Let it rest already!

Zombie Alpha needs brains, badly.

Re:Heh (1)

Mateito (746185) | more than 10 years ago | (#10005924)

But how many of those declarations came from NetCraft?

Re:Heh (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10006011)

NetCraft confirms: NetCraft jokes are dying!

Long live NetCraft jokes!

Niche guys.... (3, Insightful)

Chicane-UK (455253) | more than 10 years ago | (#10005867)

Yeah, like that little known outfit called AMD. I know you might not of heard of them, but they do make some good chips ;) :)

Re:Niche guys.... (1)

badriram (699489) | more than 10 years ago | (#10005925)

And the King of them all IBM... (dont forget the Power architecture)

Re:Niche guys.... (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10005930)

He meant intel architecture, you could argue that AMD64 is a new arch but it's still X86. What sort of nerd are you anyway?

Re:Niche guys.... (0, Flamebait)

cuerty (671497) | more than 10 years ago | (#10005955)

And the nostalgic?
There'll no like Alpha. Is like the Commodore 64 of servers.

Re:Niche guys.... (2, Informative)

drgonzo59 (747139) | more than 10 years ago | (#10005956)

AMD is still an Intel architecture.

Re:Niche guys.... (4, Insightful)

erikharrison (633719) | more than 10 years ago | (#10006082)

Lets say x86 instead, and then the meaning becomes clear. The reason we say "Intel" when we mean "x86" is because, no matter how many other manufacturers make x86 chips (Via, AMD, and doesn't Unisys have there own x86 chip?) the technology is Intel's. All the other companies are niche players when it comes to controlling x86 technology. Via is for embedded, AMD is for price to power in the midrange market, and Unisys is x86 for mainframes.

The fact that AMD seems to be getting the upperhand in driving x86 technology doesn't change the fact that there is one technology which dominates the market, and everybody else either controls a nice slice with another technology, or competes with the major x86 player in a more specialized niche.

Alpha is dead, UltraSPARC is in doubt, and Via seems intent on shoving ARM out of the market. m68k is an abberation. There are two battles left. The battle of the archetecture (x86-64 vs POWER5/PowerPC), and the battle of x86 innovation (AMD vs Intel). That's sad.

Cost of the servers (4, Informative)

wolfemi1 (765089) | more than 10 years ago | (#10005875)

"Pricing for the ES47 and ES80 systems with the new 1.15GHz EV7 will start at $29,200 and $49,300, respectively."

Holy crap! And here I was, thinking that the Xeon servers were expensive!

Re:Cost of the servers (3, Insightful)

Kourino (206616) | more than 10 years ago | (#10006104)

HP doesn't want people buying them, else they might realize that they perform better than comparitively- clocked Itanium kit :3

(Though to be fair, Itanium 2 was a lot better ... what's on the IA-64 roadmap, I wonder.)

Steak in the heart of VMS now (0, Troll)

random coward (527722) | more than 10 years ago | (#10005881)

I suppose this should put a steak in the heart of OpenVMS, and now we can say VMS is dead now also? That will be at least one positive result of this.

Re:Steak in the heart of VMS now (1)

unstable23 (242201) | more than 10 years ago | (#10005974)

Steak? Mmmm, beefy OS.

Some people still love OpenVMS, especially as it now runs on Itanium. It's pretty solid, and if they don't have to change, why should they?

Re:Steak in the heart of VMS now (1)

Echemus (49002) | more than 10 years ago | (#10006004)

Erm, I understand the porting effort of OpenVMS to itanium began a fair while ago. I really do not think we will see the end of OpenVMS any time soon have a look here [hp.com] for details.

A tasty steak, that's the ticket (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10006008)

I'll take a steak in my stomach any time over a steak in the heart. How would you get a steak in the heart of something, anyhow? It's too soft to penetrate (unlike, say, a STAKE).

Re:Steak in the heart of VMS now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10006018)

I suppose this should put a steak in the heart of OpenVMS...

Yeah, OpenVMS always did need a little more meat.

Re:Steak in the heart of VMS now (1)

homer_ca (144738) | more than 10 years ago | (#10006037)

Mmmmm... Steak....

Seriously, this isn't a stake through the heard of OpenVMS. It's being ported to Intel Itanium, but this isn't very popular with the users. TheReg article here [theregister.co.uk] about HP World.

The Alpha (1)

BubbaThePirate (805480) | more than 10 years ago | (#10005883)

"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." - Revelations 22:13.

AMD (3, Insightful)

Snowdog668 (227784) | more than 10 years ago | (#10005884)

Does AMD count as one of the "niche guys"? Granted, they're not as big as Intel but I've always thought of them as the chip to buy when you don't want to buy Intel.

Re:AMD (1)

kneecarrot (646291) | more than 10 years ago | (#10005909)

So, what was the greatest thing *before* sliced bread?

The cat's ass?

Re:AMD (1)

vrtladept (674792) | more than 10 years ago | (#10005994)

I think the problem is that while AMD is a fine chip maker (I run an AMD processor proudly), they are essentially similar to the Intel processor as they were initially clones of the Intel x86 line.

I think what people are worried about is that we will loose some of the diversity of research without chips like Alpha that have a different base architecture than the Intel Chip

Of course I hope I just didn't put my foot into my mouth, I'm not an electrical engineer or anything. Can someone expound or clarify?

Re:AMD (2, Funny)

JLyle (267134) | more than 10 years ago | (#10006147)

Does AMD count as one of the "niche guys"? Granted, they're not as big as Intel but I've always thought of them as the chip to buy when you don't want to buy Intel.
I think the author was lamenting that, given Intel's dominance of the microprocessor market, it seems truer than ever that niche guys finish last.

only intel? (5, Insightful)

lavaface (685630) | more than 10 years ago | (#10005886)

what about IBM's powerPC ???

Will anyone actually be *using* this? (5, Insightful)

sarahemm (707486) | more than 10 years ago | (#10005898)

I can't see this bringing in much revenue. If I was a company currently using Alpha, it seems like a dead-end choice to buy yet another Alpha-based machine, knowing this was the last one. Seems like a better decision to migrate away now, rather than just prolong it.
Of course, that's just my opinion, and business decisions rarely make much sense ;)

just call me the alpha disposal guy (1)

glen604 (750214) | more than 10 years ago | (#10006076)

If anyone's got some of those end-of-line-no-one-wants-them-anymore alpha servers - particulary the really powerful ones- I'll gladly take them :)

attn digital: I'll take what's leftover of your stock too- you can ship it direct to my address.

best of all- I'll do it for free- call it a public service, if you will.

Re:Will anyone actually be *using* this? (2, Insightful)

Cheeko (165493) | more than 10 years ago | (#10006146)

I think the idea is that this is a migration move. This allows current alpha users more time to migrate off of alpha and to another HP platform, rather than forcing them right now particularly if a third party app isn't avialable yet. HP'd rather have customers on alpha, than not have them at all. They can migrate at their own pace.

Dead? (1)

ThrasherTT (87841) | more than 10 years ago | (#10005899)

And here I thought Alpha had been dead for years... maybe it was just the impression DEC gave. Perhaps this is a lesson in self-fulfilling prophecy.

My Alpha Story (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10005915)

*sniff*

*sob*

Oh, this is just too much for me to handle. The greatest Quake platform is dead.

Good bye, cruel world!

Really, tho, this is a shame. Alpha procs are (*sob* were *sob*) the fastest thing a mortal could get. Ignoring compile problems, I'd take an Alpha over an x86 or PPC any day.

Back when Quake2 was the latest id title, I set up a dedicated server on my alpha box (a tiny multia). My roommate and I were amazed -- gameplay was glass -- it was actually better than running on an x86 dedicated server and better than running against a local server (same box). Could not believe it. It was so smooth.

Sorry, I'm going to go get drunk cry a lot (I'm working on solaris today, and I just can't take all the pain).

freeshell (0, Offtopic)

essreenim (647659) | more than 10 years ago | (#10005931)

Anyone use freeshell? My mail account is a freeshell account.
* [freeshell.org]
As far as I know their (Unix) cluster is Alpha 64 based. Guess they'll have to switch..

Re:freeshell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10005996)

why would they have to switch?

Re:freeshell (1)

essreenim (647659) | more than 10 years ago | (#10006093)

in the future. I dont think Alpha's last forever, and my mail account is a lifetime deal, so..
at some point I guess they'll have to switch. I hope they dont need to (for a long time) though..

Re:freeshell (2, Funny)

boffy_b (699458) | more than 10 years ago | (#10006139)

I for one, do. It runs on NetBSD on DEC Alphas. Dead OS on dead chips. :)

I like my alpha BYEBYE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10005938)

I run a very busy mail server running FreeBSD on a "COMPAQ" Dual Alpha 500

its still qucik to this day

niche? (0, Redundant)

dj245 (732906) | more than 10 years ago | (#10005948)

the world's line of chips seems to have declined to Intel and a handful of niche guys.

I'm no fanboy, but AMD is more than just a niche guy.

Re:niche? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10006174)

most of AMD's chip are based on the intel architecture. I think the poster meant the "intel architecture" when he said "intel"

YUO FAIL IT!? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10005959)

BE NIGGER! BE GAY! Despite the Nigger Association ME! It's official infinitesimally

Alpha Envy (4, Funny)

Neon Spiral Injector (21234) | more than 10 years ago | (#10005965)

I was talking with CmdrTaco and Keith Packard along wtih a few of the other XFree86 people. They were all going on about heating the bedrooms with Alphas in the winter. And telling other Alpha related stories. Then Keith looks at me and asked if I have an Alpha. I never felt so inadequate as a geek. So a couple months later I did pick up a dual 21164 (EV56) based machine. Sure enough it did keep my bedroom warm, that is when it wasn't tripping the circut breaker. So I moved it to the server room at work, where it sits now still hosting my websites.

The real question is... (1)

saintp (595331) | more than 10 years ago | (#10005966)

Does Netcraft confirm it?

ARM? (5, Informative)

nullset (39850) | more than 10 years ago | (#10005968)

I'd hardly call Intel the biggest CPU architecture out there.... maybe for PCs.

ARM comes to mind. what about the embedded market? Atmel's AVRs, Microchip PICs, Motorola HC08's,HC11's, there's billions of non-intel architecture CPUs shipped every year. To those guys, intel is just a niche player....

[flame suit off]

Re:ARM? (1)

sarahemm (707486) | more than 10 years ago | (#10006042)

Last I heard, Motorola was still shipping more microprocessors than any other company. VCRs, microwaves, TVs, stereos... This was a few years back, however. I'd still bet that Intel is behind one of the embedded chip companies. How many appliances does your average household have compared to PCs?

Re:ARM? (2, Funny)

Westech (710854) | more than 10 years ago | (#10006152)

How many appliances does your average household have compared to PCs?

That depends on whether you mean average household or average slashdot reader household.

Ahh exposure... (1)

dmayle (200765) | more than 10 years ago | (#10005972)

My first exposure to Linux was with an Alpha box. A friend of mine had bought a Multia to run as a server for his network. This was just at the time that MP3 was starting to show up (late '95), and he decided to run Linux on it, giving me the grand tour. Because of this, I toyed with Slackware a bit, but since I didn't have enough disk space at the time, I dropped it for a while. A couple of years later, I came into two Multia's by chance, and, remembering the old experience, bought them and installed Linux on them. I've since moved to a full time Linux user, both at home, and at work, and I have DEC/digital to thank for it.

So long, Alpha, we'll miss you...

ummmmmmm (2, Informative)

Anubis350 (772791) | more than 10 years ago | (#10005973)

hmmmmmmmmmmm.....
lessee, we have the powerPC by IBM, used both in their own machines and in apple hardware. We have the sparc machines by sun (which may or may not exist for much longer). We have AMD, which is becoming more and more mainstream, perhaps the biggest competitor intel has had in a long time. Oh and we forgot one other thing... how about all the chips that go into devices like phones and PDAs. You know, the motorola chips and such. For that matter, what about GPUs on graphics cards?
seems like there are a long more processors out there than the article says, dont you think?

Nifty Niche (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10005975)

Finally, Transmeta's closest competitor is gone. Oh, wait... nuts...

New life...kinda :) (1)

hot_Karls_bad_cavern (759797) | more than 10 years ago | (#10005979)

Just had a prof that i know spend a good deal of money to have Gentoo put on his alphas. He simply is in love with them and just won't let them go. Admittedly, he's an older, British guy studying 12th century Chinese music (no, that is not a joke) and codes *everything* in lisp (the mere mention of anything other than emacs will launch a long, but very well defended argument). He even had his wife's computer done too (she's a heavy alpha user and prof too).

i'm not sure what the point of this is, other than to say, there are still people who love and use alphas for some very important work (not that i'm waiting for 12th century chinese tunes to save the world, but you know what i'm saying). It's still sad to see something that was once great kinda wander off into non-production :(

What's Changed? (5, Insightful)

CommieOverlord (234015) | more than 10 years ago | (#10005989)

Before there was Intel x86 (comptabile) and a number of niche processors, and now there's still Intel and a number of niche processors. The submitter's closing statement seems a tad alarmist.

We still have Itanium, two Sparc variants, a number of Power variants, Transmeta, Opteron, and whole bunch of other niche processors, most of which probably have more market share than alpha.

Slashdot History (4, Informative)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 10 years ago | (#10005990)

Slashdot ran for the first 7 or 8 months off an Alpha box.

If memory serves, Slashdot ran on a Multia. [obsolyte.com]

LK

Bah! Back in the good old days... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10006007)

We didn't have any of this fancy-pants CPU-on-a-chip stuff. We built our computers by hand. 74xx TTL IC chips wirewrapped together. And by god we LIKED it.

AMD CPU's are using licensed Alpha tech (4, Informative)

Locutus (9039) | more than 10 years ago | (#10006012)

IIRC, AMD licensed the Alpha memory bus design and it's still used today. It's how AMD ended up with such a fast bus and beat Intel for ~2 years with a faster FSB.

So, if you run and AMD CPU then you're keeping the DEC Alpha technology alive. Also, don't forget that the DEC StrongARM was part of the DEC technical vision too. It's how Intel got into the handheld market. Too bad DEC thought Microsoft was it's future....

LoB

Reminds me of CISC vs. RISC debate (2, Insightful)

kbahey (102895) | more than 10 years ago | (#10006028)

In the early 90s, there was this hot debate about RISC vs. CISC, and the merits of each, ...etc.

This has all died out now, with CISC (read: Intel) coming out as a winner.

Regarding the number of chips out there, AMD is not really different from Intel, at least it is instruction set compatible. Maybe this will change a bit in the 64-bit versions, but not right now. PowerPC is a good architecture, but not so wide spread. Outside of some IBM servers, and the 3% that is Apple's share, they are not used much.

Re:Reminds me of CISC vs. RISC debate (3, Informative)

mihalis (28146) | more than 10 years ago | (#10006116)

In the early 90s, there was this hot debate about RISC vs. CISC, and the merits of each, ...etc.

This has all died out now, with CISC (read: Intel) coming out as a winner.

Well, maybe. Intel is a big winner, but every single Pentium or Athlon is remarkably RISC inside. In fact these chips are so much more complex than any of the "pure" RISC or CISC chips the statement that CISC won is practically meaningless.

Which side does Out Of Order Execution come from? Intel did it fast first.

Who use OOOE now? Everyone.

Theres a huge laundry list of features in modern high-performance CPUs that do not fit into RISC vs. CISC. Trace cache, micro-ops, CMT, CMP, etc etc

Re:Reminds me of CISC vs. RISC debate (3, Insightful)

Kourino (206616) | more than 10 years ago | (#10006157)

Pff, it's not that clear cut, as most people know.

Much of the lower level workings of "IA-32" chips are a lot more RISCy than they started out being. More complex instructions are implemented in microcode. On the flip side, architectures like PowerPC (and even SPARC ... register windows are neat, but not very RISC) aren't very RISCy at all compared with stuff like MIPS.

Neither side won absolutely. This is probably as it should be.

Re:Reminds me of CISC vs. RISC debate (1)

tkanerva (301782) | more than 10 years ago | (#10006159)

> In the early 90s, there was this hot debate about RISC vs. CISC, and the merits of each, ...etc.
> This has all died out now, with CISC (read: Intel) coming out as a winner.

However, let me point out that probably the sole reason why CISC came out as a winner (we can argument this as well...) is that simply the economics of scale pushed intel's architecture forward as other companies struggled to stay profitable (look at SGI, they used to make their own chips...)

of course, AMD prevailed, because it supplied to the same pool (the windows world).

slashdot and the 2,004k bug (1)

nazsco (695026) | more than 10 years ago | (#10006050)


every week, since 1990, we got an article just like that. alpha is dead. PERIOD.

the only two alpha i had to administer in my life, one was slow as a DEAD COW and the other was stable as a DEAD COW (i think it was some trouble with the power unit, but the support from digital cost more then 12 brand new dell machines).

Niche Guys? (2, Interesting)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 10 years ago | (#10006052)

Farewell, Alpha; the world's line of chips seems to have declined to Intel and a handful of niche guys."

You mean small players like IBM? I guess the G5 and Power line of chips are not really big time enough to worry about?

Alpha lives! (1)

rabtech (223758) | more than 10 years ago | (#10006063)

Alpha lives on (at least in spirit) within AMD; They hired some of the engineers and licensed some of the technology, the EV6 bus being a prime example. Exactly how many and how much we don't know (for obvious business reasons.)

What's so bad about x86? (2, Insightful)

MoralHazard (447833) | more than 10 years ago | (#10006069)

Taking potshots like this at x86 chips is such bullshit. So what if it's not as optimal an architecture as the Alpha, or if the EV7 bus is pretty neat? The biggest advantage of using x86 systems over anything else isn't that they're the fastest chips, cycle-for-cycle, or that they're a particularly elegant solution. It's that they're CHEAP and FAST ENOUGH.

Think about how many Intel Xeons you could get, on 9xx chipset mobos, for $30,000. If you built them yourself, probably 15-20. Is one (or four) 1.5 GHz Alphas are more useful than a cluster of 20 Xeons? Hell no!

See, ever since Intel lost their de facto monopoly on powerful x86 chips (thank you, AMD!), their prices have dropped far enough that it's hard to beat x86 solutions on a price vs. performance basis. Even if you have to stack up more boxes in a rack to do it. Hell, Quad-CPU Xeons can still go for less than $6,000, if you build them from parts, so rackspace isn't really an issue.

"Do we get thier marketing people?" (2, Interesting)

bADlOGIN (133391) | more than 10 years ago | (#10006072)

This comment from an Engineering conference call from Dec West site to Colorado got the well deserved applause and laughter when the DEC/Compaq merger was announced. I was there when it happened, and this got to the main problem with DEC: couldn't market a whore in a free port. They sat on the Alpha design for years as it was before launch in part because they didn't want to eat into thier mini business the way they ate into mainframe business. History doesn't repeat itself, but it sure rhymes. Sorry, Alpha - guess you live on in IA-64 (the "IA" stands for "Inetl's Alpha").

The whole idea is crazy (2, Insightful)

armando_wall (714879) | more than 10 years ago | (#10006080)

I don't get it.

Oh, where is ObviousGuy [slashdot.org] when we need him?

AMD is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#10006106)

chopped liver?

Microprocessor Report (4, Insightful)

glassware (195317) | more than 10 years ago | (#10006108)

As a CPU buff, I ordered a back-issue of Microprocessor Report where they discussed the introduction of the Alpha in glowing terms. The radical chip architecture and speed-at-any-price mentality was new at the time, but quickly proved itself to be the superior chip design approach. For most of the 1990s, the Alpha was the fastest chip on the market in both integer and floating point operations.

Alpha was a Risc chip's risc chip. The IBM Power architecture has dozens of operations and permutations; the Alpha has a handful. This contributed not only to the Alpha's speed, but also to its insatiable demands for memory. DEC introduced a code-translator that allowed the Alpha to run x86-32 binaries at native speeds, but warned that memory requirements would grow substantially. The software never became cost effective.

But, towards the turn of the millennium, something strange happened: the Pentium Pro architecture (happily renamed PII and PIII) inched towards the lead in integer operations. The P4 actually surpassed the Alpha chips. Intel had, by then, hired away some of the Alpha designers and began to adopt its performance enhancing strategies. How could Intel catch up to the Alpha when Intel was burdened with an architecture as convoluted as x86?

Strangely, the x86 architecture can also be a benefit to chip design. Because x86 compresses commonly used instructions into tiny, awkward byte codes, the P4 generation of chips requires less memory and fewer cache misses - and the convoluted opcodes can be decoded quickly by the processor prior to dispatch. In the long run, Alpha's simplified instruction set proved to be less useful than machine-code x86 compatibility; and x86 chips are now little more than Alpha chips sitting behind an x86 instruction decoder. The Alpha design lives on in every CPU you buy, whether it be AMD or Intel.

For further reading, check out CPU performance numbers on http://www.spec.org [spec.org] and read the commentary on Microprocessor Report [chipanalyst.com] .

End of the Line for HP too? (2, Informative)

turgid (580780) | more than 10 years ago | (#10006120)

Their plan to move everyone to itanic appears to have backfired [theregister.co.uk] . Has itanic finally sunk?

B-2 Memories, Management (4, Interesting)

Embedded Geek (532893) | more than 10 years ago | (#10006143)

I worked with about 400 other developers on the embedded software for the B-2 Bomber. As our groups grew, the VAX clusters we used began to suffer. We complained to management but there was never any money for better mainframes.

Then we switched over to a trouble report tracking program instead of doing everything on paper. The thing was implemented in house and made to run on the VAX'es. Suddenly everything slowed to a crawl, both development and trouble tracking. Since managers were the primary users of the tracking software, we knew it would have visibility. There was much rejoicing when the company bought a DEC Alpha...

...and put only the tracking software on it. No development work was allowed at all on teh new machine.

SIGH. The salad days of youth...

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