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February 16, 1999


By CBR Staff Writer

This might just be the beginning of a beautiful thing (for Compaq Computer Corp, at least): the word from our sister weekly publication Unigram.X has it that Compaq AlphaServer DS20 with two 500 MHz Alpha 21264 processors are being bid against a Sun Microsystems Inc Enterprise 450 with four 400MHz UltraSparc II processors at Unix sites, and early reports from potential buyers indicate that the two-way Alpha beats the four-way UltraSparc by a pretty good margin. Recent TPC-C tests put the DS20 and the Enterprise 450 pretty much neck-and-neck at 11,616 and 11,560 TPC-C transactions per minute, which is somewhat consistent with what we are hearing in these deals. Similarly, a 10-way GS40 server (which uses the Alpha 21264 chip) can handle 531 SAP R/3 sales and distribution users per processor in a two tier configuration, which again compares quite favorably to the Sun Starfire server with 64 processors, which only handled 225 users per processor. Clearly, SMP scalability is not everything, and Compaq is out to prove it. Another indication that the Alpha- True64 combo is gaining steam is a rumor, which we have not been able to confirm as yet, that Mindspring Enterprises, the Atlanta internet service provider, is dropping Sun hardware and its Solaris operating system. At least one big customer. Mindspring is apparently saying that Solaris doesn’t scale as well, and this has become an issue for the fast-growing company. The ISP has grown through acquisitions – it has bought the subscribers of Netcom, Sprynet and a half dozen other ISPs since last September alone – to nearly 1.1 million internet accounts and nearly 40,000 web hosting accounts. Presumably Compaq’s renewed commitment to Unix and AlphaServer GS 21264-based servers, which can have up to 14 of chips in a single SMP server, are the selling points.

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