DEC Alpha

DEC Alpha Generation logo.svg
"Alpha Generation" logo used by Digital
DesignerDigital Equipment Corporation
Introduced1992 (1992)
ExtensionsByte/Word Extension (BWX), Square-root and Floating-point Convert Extension (FIX), Count Extension (CIX), Motion Video Instructions (MVI)
General purpose31 plus always-zero R31
Floating point31 plus always-0.0 F31
DEC Alpha AXP 21064 microprocessor die photo
Package for DEC Alpha AXP 21064 microprocessor
Alpha AXP 21064 bare die mounted on a business card with some statistics
Compaq Alpha 21264C

Alpha, originally known as Alpha AXP, is a 64-bit reduced instruction set computing (RISC) instruction set architecture (ISA) developed by Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC). Alpha was designed to replace 32-bit VAX complex instruction set computer (CISC) as well as be a highly competitive RISC processor for Unix workstations and similar markets.

Alpha is implemented in a series of microprocessors originally developed and fabricated by DEC. These microprocessors are most prominently used in a variety of DEC workstations and servers, which eventually formed the basis for almost all of their mid-to-upper-scale lineup. Several third-party vendors also produced Alpha systems, including PC form factor motherboards.

Operating systems that support Alpha included OpenVMS (previously known as OpenVMS AXP), Tru64 UNIX (previously known as DEC OSF/1 AXP and Digital UNIX), Windows NT (discontinued after NT 4.0; and pre-release Windows 2000 RC2),[2] Linux (Debian, SUSE,[3] Gentoo and Red Hat), BSD UNIX (NetBSD, OpenBSD and FreeBSD up to 6.x), Plan 9 from Bell Labs, as well as the L4Ka::Pistachio kernel.

The Alpha architecture was sold, along with most parts of DEC, to Compaq in 1998.[4] Compaq, already an Intel x86 customer, announced that they would phase out Alpha in favor of the forthcoming Hewlett-Packard/Intel Itanium architecture, and sold all Alpha intellectual property to Intel, in 2001,[5] effectively killing the product. Hewlett-Packard purchased Compaq in 2002, continuing development of the existing product line until 2004, and selling Alpha-based systems, largely to the existing customer base, until April 2007.[6]

  1. ^ Cite error: The named reference facts and comments was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  2. ^ Aaron Sakovich (2001). "Windows 2000?". The AlphaNT Source. Archived from the original on 2008-07-08. Retrieved 2007-01-01.
  3. ^ "SUSE Linux 7.0 Alpha Edition". SUSE. 2000. Retrieved 2014-01-08.
  4. ^ "Ghost of DEC Alpha is why Windows is rubbish at file compression". November 2, 2016.
  5. ^ Popovich, Ken (2001-06-28). "Alpha proved costly for Compaq". ZDNet. Retrieved 2016-03-02.
  6. ^ "Transforming your AlphaServer environment". HP. Archived from the original on 2007-02-08. Retrieved 2007-01-11.

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