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Compaq rolls out Alpha server

The company released a new class of enterprise corporate servers today, its first products to contain Alpha processors.

Compaq released a new class of enterprise corporate servers today, its first products to contain Alpha processors.

The "global system" GS60 and GS140 servers, built inside a blue box, are the first Alpha-based servers that bear the Compaq moniker instead of Digital's.

The new servers run on the 575-MHz, 64-bit Alpha 21264 chip, code-named EV6. The GS60 supports up to six Alpha processors and 28GB of memory; the GS140 supports up to 14 processors and 28GB of memory.

Although ostensibly Compaq products, the Digital heritage is apparent. The new products are renamed versions of the AlphaServer 8200 and 8400 that Compaq inherited with its acquisition of Digital Equipment Corporation.

"The Digital name is defunct as relates to AlphaServers," said Margaret-Ann Bolton, director of marketing for AlphaServers at Compaq.

The EV68, the next generation Alpha processor, is due out in mid-1999 and will run at 750 MHz. Then comes the 1,000-MHz EV7 in mid to late 2000--about the same due date as Intel's first 64-bit offering, Merced.

Compaq is aiming the GS servers at strenuous corporate tasks such as enterprise applications, data warehousing, and high-performance technical applications.

If anything, the GS servers aren't cheap. The GS 60 with 4GB of memory sells for $199,990 while the GS140 starts at $399,400.

These servers, however, will be followed by a mid-range and entry-level series of servers, to be called the ES and DS AlphaServers, as well as a series of ProLiant servers that combine the Alpha chip and the Windows NT operating system. These new products will come out in the first half of 1999.

"I think they're going to be screamers," said Peter ffoulkes, an analyst at Dataquest. The servers' performance puts them "way ahead of anything Intel can put together at the moment."

Sources also reported that Compaq plans to rename its Digital Unix, a 64-bit operating system that's an option on the new servers. The "Digital Unix" name is merely a placeholder awaiting a name change as Compaq tries to give the operating system a stronger marketing position.