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Alpha chip may reach 1 GHz in '99

A Samsung subsidiary will also go to a copper manufacturing process sometime next year, while Compaq cuts Alpha computer prices.

Samsung subsidiary Alpha Processors aims to bring out a 1-GHz chip in 1999, possibly becoming the first chip manufacturer to reach this lofty goal, while Compaq announced price cuts on Alpha-based computers.

Sometime next year, Alpha Processors Incorporated (API) is planning to deliver an EV68 Alpha chip that could reach a speed of 1,000 MHz, or 1 GHz, said Dr. Daeji Chen, the company's chairman and CEO, in an interview with CNET NEWS.COM.

Alpha chips currently run as fast as 600 MHz. They also employ a 64-bit architecture. Intel's first 64-bit processor, Merced, was recently delayed to 2000.

API simultaneously expects to move to a copper production process, echoing similar plans by IBM and Advanced Micro Devices. Copper-based circuits are expected to yield chips that run much faster than the aluminum chips of today.

Chen further anticipates the emergence of workstation computers, from Compaq and others, that are compatible with both Alpha processors and AMD?s next-generation K7 processors, also due in 1999. Many of the components, such as circuit boards and ancillary chips, will be common to both the Alpha and K7, he said.

Separately, Microsoft is currently developing "NT 64" on the Alpha processor, according to Chen. NT 64 is the full-fledged 64-bit version of the Windows NT operating system due out after NT 5.0 ships.

Chen also claims that Alpha will have the ability to deal with 64-bit technology on Windows NT 5.0, even though this will be a 32-bit operating system.

In related news, Compaq said today that it cut prices on Alpha processor-based systems and is offering upgrades to the fastest 21264 chips. Compaq now owns Digital Equipment, which makes these systems.

Alpha 21264 performance will be available for AlphaServer 8X00 systems through a circuit board upgrade, according to Compaq. Purchasers of an AlphaServer 8X00 5/625 system by September 25, 1998, can order an upgrade at 30 percent off the list price of $65,000 of the upgrade board, the company said.

Compaq is also reducing prices across the AlphaServer family, which includes the AlphaServer 800, 1200, and 4100 systems. Price reductions range to 27 percent. Further, memory chip price cuts up to 50 percent have also been instituted.