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Compaq delays Alpha stations

The company has put off the release of its first Alpha-processor-based workstations until the fourth quarter or later to clear up problems.

Compaq has put off the release of its first Alpha-processor-based workstations until the fourth quarter, and may push it back further, to clear up performance issues with the system.

The Alpha processor is one of several high-end technologies Compaq acquired when it bought Digital this past February.

Although Alpha-based XP workstations are expected initially to constitute a relatively small number of unit sales for Compaq, the delay is a symbolic defeat for the company. With Digital, Compaq said that it was poised to become one of the leading, full-fledged computing conglomerates.

The acquisition of these technologies also meant that Compaq would no longer strictly be manufacturing computers based around Intel processors.

The delay effectively means that Compaq is having more trouble than expected in building workstations around the new architecture.

Compaq spokesperson Gary Frazier pointed out that the XP workstations will not merely be old Digital systems with the Compaq name slapped onto the side of the box. While a great deal of input for system design is coming from Digital, Compaq is incorporating its own technology into these Alpha systems. The XP workstations, for instance, will embody the Higher Parallel System Architecture found in other Compaq workstations.

Internally, Compaq targeted to have the workstation out by September, although Compaq executives publicly said that the first Alpha workstations would come out in the fourth quarter. "The goal currently is now Q4, possibly Q1 (of 1998)" said Frazier.

Compaq announced the XP workstation family in July. The XP family, which will constitute Compaq's top of the line product segment, will be based around the Alpha processor, Compaq said at the time. The middle tier of Compaq's product family, the SP line, will be based around Intel's Xeon processor, while the bottom segment, the AP workstations, will be occupied by Pentium II systems. SP and AP systems are currently available.