dburtsev (dburtsev) wrote,

The Death of Alpha on NT

Aug. 26, 1999
Last week, Compaq announced that it was laying off more than 100 of its Alpha/NT employees in its DECwest facility located near the Microsoft campus. This group of developers was tasked with making Alpha on NT a technical reality. Citing Compaq's decision and the strength of Intel's architecture and systems, Microsoft says it will discontinue development of future 32-bit and 64-bit Alpha products across its existing product line...
The Alpha on NT story has its roots back to the inception of NT. Dave Cutler, NT’s creator, was working on a new OS, code-named "Mica," for Digital Equipment. Digital intended Mica to be a successor to VMS and based it closely on VMS (thus, NT's strong roots in VMS)...
For some reason, Digital killed the Mica project. Seizing the opportunity, Microsoft picked up Dave Cutler and his Mica team and funded the continuation of the Mica project within Microsoft. A few years later, Windows NT was born. Digital, however, suspected that NT was actually Mica reborn and hired an OS specialist to determine the similarities. According to inside sources, many portions of NT’s code and even the comments were identical to Mica. As a result, Digital sued Microsoft. Microsoft and Digital settled out of court and the result was the Digital/Microsoft Alliance.
As part of the alliance, Microsoft promised to support the Alpha processor on NT and to ensure that Microsoft’s BackOffice products (i.e., SQL Server, Exchange Server, Internet Information Server—IIS) would be fully compatible and made available at the same time as their Intel equivalents. Digital added more than 100 engineers to DECWest, tasked with making Alpha on NT a technical reality. As part of the agreement, Digital (now Compaq) and Microsoft would have a perpetual cross-license of NT-related technology including full access to the source code.
What was NOT promised in the alliance was support for Microsoft’s Office, developer tools, or any other desktop products...
The 64-bit question, however, remained: Can the Alpha ever achieve the economies of scale to compete with Intel or should it be positioned as a low-volume, high-margin chip for high-end computing? The answer is clear. It would be a high-end, low-volume chip, which is great for Himalaya, Tru64, and OpenVMS, but didn’t fit the high-volume NT market. As a result, Alpha on NT marketing was nonexistent. Any Alpha/NT momentum created by Digital ended abruptly...
Intel might deliver its 64-bit chip (Merced) by the time 64-bit NT is ready. If this happens, the fact that Alpha was first would offer little competitive advantage. Microsoft will position the 64-bit NT Server as a high-end, low-volume solution for those applications that need maximum scalability—e.g., a large SQL Server database that needs gigabytes of RAM for caching. Would the 64-bit version of NT perform significantly better on the Alpha vs. Merced for this type of application? If not, then being first and fastest would NOT overcome Intel’s competitive advantages: compatibility and cost. In the past, Compaq would position VMS, True64, or a Himalaya system for a highly scalable database application. Will Compaq position 64-bit NT against VMS, Tru64, or Himalaya? Not likely. Could a 64-bit Alpha Windows 2000 Professional (Win2K Pro) workstation save Alpha on NT? No way. Therefore, Alpha on NT is dead.http://windowsitpro.com/windows-client/death-alpha-nt
Tags: it, история

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