Compaq Introduces New AlphaServer

Yesterday, CompaqComputer Corp. took the wraps off its new AlphaServer, introducing thefirst 1GHz Alpha processor. The AlphaServer ES45, a four-way server, and theAlphaServer SC45, a clustered version, are midrange Unix servers designed fortechnical computing.

The ES45 and SC45 can run three different operatingsystems: Compaq’s proprietary Tru64 Unix, Open VMS, and Linux.  Compaq uses Oracle 9i Real ApplicationClusters to create clustered systems from the ES45.

Compaq says the 1GHz Alphas used in the new servers arethe first 64-bit processors to break the 1GHz barrier. Although the chips comea year-and-a-half after the first 1GHz Athlons, industry observers onceexpected the Alpha to be the first of any processors to run at that speed.

Reflecting its DEC roots, the AlphaServer ES45 isdesigned for computation-intensive technical computing applications. Compaqalso announced a flagship customer, the PittsburghSupercomputing Center, which uses a 760-node AlphaServer SC45 cluster. PSCmaintains supercomputers for researchers needing high-performance systems fortheir applications.

Mel Lewandowski, director of high-performance marketingat Compaq, says that although AlphaServers have their roots in scientificresearch, businesses often need the power of technical computing. Applicationsthat require the analysis of large amounts of data, such as businessintelligence and data mining can easily harness the computational power of AlphaServers.She says that although the Top 500Supercomputer List was once dominated by the military and academe, now halfof the computers on the list are in businesses.

In addition, Compaq has turned its attention intomaking AlphaServers easy to deploy in the enterprise. “As you take this classof machine into different environments people need it to be easier toconfigure,” Lewandowski says. Compaq has worked to make AlphaServers suitableas database servers, working with Oracle Corp. to produce certified clusterconfigurations.

Although Compaq announced this summer it planned toeventually discontinue the Alpha processor line, moving its servers to IntelCorp’s 32- and 64-bit processors, Lewandowski says Alpha customers have littleto worry about. There will be at least one more generation of Alpha chips, andthe succeeding generation may be Itanium, but customers are receptive to thechange. “The way we developed our roadmap was to continue to listen to whatcustomers needs are,” she says. -Chris McConnell