Compaq will use Digital's Alpha processor to lead its Windows NT charge, as it revamps its disparate collection of acquired and existing server products into a unified line.
Existing Digital Alphaservers will be refreshed and replaced by Compaq branded models. Digital's Intel PC server range will be incorporated into the Proliant range and phased out completely over the next year.
A new range of Alpha Proliants - Compaq's core server range - will take on Compaq's charge into the higher end NT market, while the Alphaservers will be focused into the Digital Unix and OpenVMS markets.
"The new Proliant Alpha models will only run Windows NT and will be significantly cheaper than the Digital server equivalent for the three platforms. We will promote NT only on the Proliant family, not on the Alphaserver range," explained Hugh Jenkins, enterprise group product manager.
Peter Lemon, senior research analyst with IDC, was surprised about the breadth of products Compaq was retaining from its two acquisitions, Digital and Tandem.
"You are talking about a massive amount of support necessary for this broad range of technology. You aren't just talking about Intel chips, you are talking about Mips and Alpha - quite a big investment in staff and development technology and cost base," he noted.
Compaq plans to refresh its whole Alpha line over the next year with the new iteration of the Alpha processor, codenamed the EV6 and produced at .25 micron. These should have a significant performance increases over existing chips, which peak at 600Mhz, and will be initially able to run up to 14 in one server.
The company also said it would replace the Mips processors used in its Tandem Himalaya Nonstop servers within two years but was still evaluating whether to use Merced or Alpha instead.
IDC's Lemon noted that Alpha had become a key technology for Compaq, particularly given its strength as a platform for Microsoft Exchange and even Notes in the corporate messaging function.
He estimated there was also three times the margin in an Alpha box than an Intel box, because of its higher performance and perception as a specialised technology.
"Compaq was very cool when the technology was first taken over, but as more and more questions have emerged about Merced we have seen much greater use of the word Alpha from Compaq. They now see it as a viable technology to give them some headroom for the future," he said.
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