Compaq will bring out Compaq-badged Alpha servers before the end of the year, according to channel sources.
The company plans to take advantage of the delay in Intel's 64-bit Merced chip to use Digital's Alpha processor to push NT higher into the enterprise.
But analysts doubt how long Compaq will support the Alpha after Merced hits the market, expected sometime in 2000. Ashim Pal, analyst at the Meta Group, said Compaq would let the Alpha "die slowly of malnutrition" once Merced has shipped.
"Compaq would scare the market if it said that Alpha was dead now," he added. "It will use Alpha as a negotiating chip: Compaq will use the fact that it has Alpha to show Intel it has options on 64-bit chips."
Pal said he expects NT 5.0 to support Alpha, but later versions of the operating system would only support Merced.
Vesey Crichton, enterprise business unit director at Compaq UK, said the company's server strategy would be to create an "NT juggernaut" that will set an industry standard to "reduce the cost and complexity" of enterprise computing. "Alpha is the development platform for 64-bit NT and that window of opportunity has been extended by the delay of Merced," said Crichton.
But Crichton was less confident about which chip architecture Compaq would push as a standard. "Alpha 64-bit will be an industry standard alongside Merced," he said. "But at the moment we have three straight years head start on them. Digital has been trying to sell the Alpha chip to Compaq for a long time. A lot of work has already been done before the merger. A Compaq Alpha machine may be sooner than people think because we have already done the evaluation work."
But Crichton refused to state when Compaq-badged products would include Alpha.
Compaq said it would announce its UK management team at the end of July.
Samsung is backing the Alpha processor by announcing a new subsidiary to market and distribute the processor. The company, dubbed Alpha Processor, will provide sales channels and offer technical support for software development on the Alpha chip. Corel also announced last week that it will bundle Alpha versions of CorelDraw 8 and Corel WordPerfect Suite 8 with Samsung's microprocessors and motherboards.
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