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Alpha RISC Reaches 1GHz, Gets Slot B Packaging

The Alpha RISC chip’s backers were strutting new performance high watermarks for the RISC chip at PC Expo this week, along with new packaging they hope will make it easier and more attractive for companies to adopt. Who knows, maybe there will even be more Alpha-based systems on the show floor next year.

Samsung Electronics Co’s Alpha Processor Inc, effectively the marketing arm for Compaq Computer Corp’s Alpha chip, demonstrated a system running a 1GHz Alpha chip this week as well as announcing a 750MHz version of the 21264 which will ship next month. The 1GHz, 0.18 micron EV68 has previously been identified as due for deployment mid-2000, reaching 65 SPECint95 and 95 SPECfp95.

The souped-up 750MHz, 0.25 micron 21264 EV67 will power a new high-end line of Compaq AlphaServers called WildFire due by year- end. It should be up to 833MHz by then and reach 1GHz as it moves to an EV68 0.18 micron process. The 1GHz part shown at PC Expo doesn’t require the kind of supercooling other computers with 1GHz CPUs from Intel and Advanced Micro Devices require.

API also announced a standard module and slot architecture for servers processors that it calls Slot B, after Intel’s Slot 2 – the idea being that it’s easier to design and build system that use standardized components. API has a UP2000 motherboard which supports two Slot B processors, such as 21264. It uses the chipset from Compaq’s recently-introduced DS20 server. The UP2000 is described as an extended ATX form factor supporting SCSI, PCI and USB. With a 750MHz Alpha 21264 it’s not a cheap ticket item though; the $6,600 tag is hardly likely to attract volume business although it offers significantly more performance than a 500MHz Slot 2 Xeon board, which costs $3,700.

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Because AMD’s K7 Athlon chip uses the same bus as 21264, industry watchers expect AMD to cut a Slot B version of Athlon late this year. The first Athlons use Slot A modules, which is similar to Intel’s Slot 1 (physically interchangeable but electrically different), but cannot support Alpha.

The Microprocessor Report learns API will offer a low-cost UP1000 board later this year featuring the same Iron Gate chip set as initial Athlon systems and supports standard PC interfaces. API is said to be crafting its own low-cost chip set to replace Compaq, first for dual-processors then for four- and eight-way systems. The 60-person API reportedly gets the majority of its $100m revenue from Compaq. Samsung builds most of the Alphas that Compaq uses, while Intel builds the rest. Meanwhile, Compaq says it will shortly detail plans to update servers with EV67 and says it has decided not to give AlphaServers its ProLiant brand.

This article is from the CBROnline archive: some formatting and images may not be present.

CBR Staff Writer

CBR Online legacy content.