Digital has new Alpha, Intel servers

Digital rolled out new Intel- and Alpha-based servers running on Microsoft's Windows NT today, just as the company reaches an agreement with Intel on its Alpha chip technology.

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Digital Equipment (DEC) introduced new Intel- and Alpha-based servers today running on Microsoft's Windows NT as it seeks to build on last quarter's improved financial results.

The Maynard, Massachusetts, company announced several new AlphaServers, including a 400- and a 533-MHz dual Alpha processor AlphaServer 1200 for Web-server and data-warehousing applications, and faster processors for the AlphaServer 800, 4000, and 4100 models.

Additionally, Digital rolled out two new Pentium II-based systems in its Prioris line of Windows NT servers. The Prioris MX 6266 will come with four hot-swappable drive bays in single- and dual-processor versions.

Digital also indicated today separately that it will release computers in 1999 which use Intel's 64-bit Merced processor, as well as Alpha systems. Intel and Digital reached agreement today on patent dispute regarding 64-bit chip technology.

Alpha is a 64-bit architecture that offers some of the fastest processors available today. For instance, one of the speediest processors in the world is an Alpha chip running at 600 MHz. Windows NT runs on both Alpha processors and Intel chips.

Alpha servers can use up to 14 processors. This compares to Intel-based multiprocessor servers, which top off at 8 processors.

In the quarter just completed, Digital posted income of $25 million, compared with a net loss of $66 million for the same period last year. The company cited 140 percent year-on-year growth in sales of Intel-based servers, but Alpha-based servers with the Unix operating system also grew at a respectable 30 percent clip.

"They [Digital] have a pretty attractive strategy. They are addressing the need for Windows NT and Unix and have a solid footing in both camps," said Jerry Sheridan, a server analyst for market research firm Dataquest.

Digital will continue to offer its proprietary clustering system for Windows NT, but the company is expected to announce it will start delivering cluster technology that allows customers to transition from proprietary technology to Windows NT-based clustering (formerly referred to as "Wolfpack"). Clustering is a means of providing fault tolerance. Depending on the architecture, it can also be used for increasing, or "scaling" up, performance as more clusters are added.

The new Intel-based Prioris MX 6266 is priced at $4,728, while the Prioris HX 6266 will be priced at $6,108.

The AlphaServer 800 5/500 is priced starting at $15,499 and the model 1200 5/400 will be priced starting at $16,699. An AlphaServer 4000 5/533 will be priced starting at $40,554.

All systems will be immediately available, except for the AlphaServer 8400 and 8200 5/440 systems with Windows NT. These systems, priced starting at $119,700 for the 8200 5/440, will be available in early 1998.