|Designer||Digital Equipment Corporation|
|Extensions||Byte/Word Extension (BWX), Square-root and Floating-point Convert Extension (FIX), Count Extension (CIX), Motion Video Instructions (MVI)|
|General purpose||31 plus always-zero R31|
|Floating point||31 plus always-0.0 F31|
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), Linux (Debian, SUSE, 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. 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, 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.
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