Hewlett-Packard in January will deliver the next version of its Alpha processor, an important architectural upgrade that will carry it through to the chip family's planned retirement in about 18 months, an HP executive said Wednesday.
HP earlier this year said it would ship the Alpha EV7 in servers by the end of 2002, making it approximately on schedule. The company is retiring the chip, along with its PA-RISC processors, with plans to move all its higher-end servers to Intel's 64-bit Itanium family.
With Alpha nearing the end of its life cycle, the EV7 is unlikely to attract many new enterprise customers, but it is important for the installed base of Alpha users who need it to upgrade their systems. The chip may also prove popular among academic and research institutions that use it for high-performance technical computing applications, analysts said.
"A major focus here is for those in the Alpha camp who have a large investment in software and who will require several years to complete the migration" to a different hardware platform, said Nathan Brookwood, principal analyst at Insight 64, in Saratoga, Calif.
Only about 5 percent of the installed base of Unix servers runs on Alpha processors, according to analyst estimates, but the chip has something of a larger-than-life presence thanks to its strong performance reputation and a loyal user following that is "almost cult-like," according to one analyst.
News source: InfoWorld - HP outlines plans for Alpha's retirement