Respondents to the latest NEWS.COM Poll are almost evenly divided over the Intel-Digital settlement's impact on the Alpha processor.
Of the readers who responded to the question, "Does the settlement between Digital and Intel mean the end of Alpha?" 52 percent said no, Alpha technology will actually be helped by the terms of the deal. The other 48 percent who said yes believe that the deal signifies Digital is abandoning the technology.
Under the terms of the settlement, Digital will begin to make servers and workstations based on Intel's rival IA-64 architecture. Digital will sell its chipmaking plants to Intel, which will continue to fabricate Alpha processors for some period of time. Yet Intel's architecture will likely begin to take center stage over the next several years, as Alpha moves to the background.
Many think the Alpha processor technology is not nearing the end, because not only is it superior to Intel's next-generation 64-bit computing technology, Merced, but the deal itself signals Intel's support of Digital's technology. "About as good of an endorsement as a chip can get," wrote Senter Reinhardt, "to me it says, if you can't beat them, buy them."
"This is great news for Alpha! Who knows, Digital might even be able to tap into Intel's marketing. Such a combination--superior technology and excellent marketing--could prove to be lethal to Merced, not the other way around," wrote reader Aaron Sakovich.
Of the 48 percent who feel that the deal between Digital and Intel will only hasten the inevitable demise of Alpha, many felt that Digital had scuttled the chip in favor of Intel architecture.
"Digital itself said that it will ship machines with Intel's 64-bit architecture. If the captain abandons the ship, why should the rest of the passengers stay on board?" asked Thomas Ortega.
More reader responses:
End of the road for Alpha?
"Unless technical support and software support from the ISV's improves vastly, the Alpha is on the downswing, despite it's robust computing qualities."
"While I believe the Alpha chip is a superior chip to the Intel (and other competing chips), there is simply not the support available for the Alpha that there is for other chips."
"The clear winner is Intel. They have control on the production of Alpha, therefore they can kill it."
Just another bump on the road
"I believe it will help Digital and Alpha in the short term. EV6 of Alpha is ready to exceed current Merced estimates and is ready to build today. Software, customer concerns regarding viability are in a way fixed by this current announcement. The fab plant is no longer a burden on the corporation, and Alpha technology remains. Digital UNIX is 64-bit and here today, and now customers can safely bet it will be viable and available 5 years from now."
"Of course it won't mean the end of Alpha. Being a global PC Company, Digital obviously was planning to create Merced-based systems within the Intel side of the business well before the lawsuit so this is no surprise."
"I had to answer 'No' because it will be a very long time before Merced can get into the kind of power niche Alpha has been selling into all along, and Digital has a history of advancing Alpha that will not be stemmed by selling the chip manufacturing facility."
"I see Merced replacing Pentiums and things like PA RISC (and even possibly SPARC), but there will still be a need for higher end chips. With Intel in charge of production, the two chips will not compete in the same market, but there is a need for both."