IBM cements deal to build Alphas

Summary:Later this year or early next, Big Blue's Microelectronics Division should start churning out the 64-bit chips.

IBM is about to begin building Alphas.

IBM's Microelectronics Division, later this year or early next year, will begin manufacturing next-generation Alpha processors for Compaq Computer Corp., Compaq officials confirmed on Monday.

The Alpha, developed by Digital Equipment Corp., is a high-end 64-bit processor, aimed at servers and workstations. IBM (ibm) has already produced samples of the chip running at clock speeds of up to 1.2GHz (1200MHz).

Volume production of the Alphas should begin in the first quarter of 2001, the companies said.

Under terms of the companies' agreement, IBM will manufacture Alpha chips using IBM's own 0.18 micron manufacturing process, using copper interconnect technology. The process will allow the integration of the Alpha processor core, memory controller and cache memory on a single chip. IBM will also contribute ceramic packaging and cooling technologies for the new chips, IBM officials said.

IBM and Compaq (cpq) are also exploring the possibility of manufacturing next-generation Alpha chip using IBM's silicon-on-insulator (SOI) technology using a 0.13 micron process.

Samsung Electronics, Compaq's current manufacturing partner, will continue to make Alpha chips as well, Compaq officials said.

Advanced Micro Devices Inc. also holds a license to manufacture Alpha. IBM and AMD (amd) were each given licenses to Alpha technology in 1997, as part of a patent infringement lawsuit settlement between Digital and Intel (intc) In 1998, Compaq purchased Digital.

Topics: IBM, Hardware, Processors

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