Digital Equipment has no plans to make an Alpha-based PC but its partners are already shipping them for $2,500, with prices expected to drop as low as $1,500.
In a series of exclusive interviews with 'VNU Newswire', Digital executives explained the company?s strategy once it stops making the chips itself, following its licensing deal with Intel. As Intel begins manufacturing Alpha chips they will become cheaper, said Digital Semiconductor vice president Dan Casaletto.
But Harry Copperman, senior vice president of products at Digital, said it was very unlikely that Digital will start making Alpha-based PCs. ?We are trying to draw volume from our partners? use of Alpha,? he said.
Fourteen companies launched Alpha-based PCs and workstations at Comdex, with prices as low as $2,000. Manufacturers offering machines in Europe include Vobis, Carrera, Samsung, Mitsubishi and Enorex. Digital is unlikely to compete with its partners and also annoy Intel and AMD, its PC chip suppliers, by building a Digital branded Alpha PC.
One source close to Digital said: ?Copperman should know - he is in charge of all the products and planning. All Alpha kit will get much cheaper because Intel does it cheaper, and now Digital has lower costs.?
Digital has not given away the crown jewels with its Intel pact, the executives claim. In the past, the industry has equated Digital?s success with Alpha?s success, Copperman said, despite the greater importance of other areas, such as the services business. ?Intel ships 65 million chips a year and a three per cent share of that is good business.?
Casaletto said Alpha PCs will become cheaper still because of Intel?s manufacturing efficiencies, and also because AMD has agreed to make a pin bus for PC vendors, which can accept either an Alpha chip or an AMD K7. ?I will not predict a $1,500 Alpha PC but it will be possible,? Casaletto said. ?The only thing we lack is volume.? Microsoft has promised to ship Windows NT 5.0 for Alpha at the same time as it ships for Intel. Copperman expects Alpha to enjoy a five-year performance lead in 64-bit processing over Intel, even after Intel launches its Merced chip.
Digital?s confidential plans for Alpha, seen by 'VNU Newswire', show the company plans to update the current iteration, the 21164 chip which can run at 600MHz, in mid-1998. A new iteration will be twice as fast when it follows in mid-1999 but will be superseded at the start of 2001, with an iteration offering around quadruple the current performance of Alpha.
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