The already bleak future of Alpha processors looked darker than ever today after informal talks between Compaq Alpha engineers and AMD and Samsung collapsed.
Since the start of the month, when Compaq said it would drop the Alpha chip in favour of Intel's Itanium, disgruntled engineers had been looking to give the chip a new lease of life through AMD or Samsung. But reports say that nothing came of the meetings.
The processor has been considered a ground breaker in its eight-year life in terms of raw performance, but pricey development costs, lack of software support and unsuccessful marketing have stunted interest in the platform.
It is estimated that only around 800,000 of Compaq's AlphaServer systems have been installed in the last eight years.
Compaq made an abrupt decision at the end of May to stop development of the Alpha architecture in two years and instead shift its 64-bit system development to Itanium - a move the company said would give its customers an industry standard architecture.
The strategy was welcomed by users, who interpreted it as a sign that Compaq was dedicated to 64-bit systems. Compaq will port its core 64-bit technologies, such as the Tru64, OpenVMS and NonStop Kernel operating systems, to Itanium by 2004.
Despite threatening to bury the Alpha processor, Compaq's announcement may have a knock on effect on the supercomputer industry. Cray, which sells the world's fastest computer, the SV2, has also been selling supercomputers based on Alpha since 1993.
But rumours abound that the recent lack of interest in Alpha development will cast shadows on the future of Cray's T3E-1350, a system that supports up to 40 833Mhz Alpha processors in the same unit.
Cray has been using the Alpha platform to regain ground lost in the supercomputer market to Fujitsu, Hitachi, IBM and NEC over the last decade. The market is estimated to be worth $1.5bn.
Another nail in the Alpha coffin came from Samsung, which announced a price hike on the UP 1500 motherboard which is designed for low level Linux systems running on Alpha. The increase from $2700 to $3500 may yet do more damage to Alpha.
Commenting on the meeting with Alpha engineers, a Samsung spokesperson said: "We are not in a position to fight Compaq on this. If anyone in any of our departments decided to do so, they would be summarily dismissed."
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