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Alpha - DEC
< dec

Developer DEC, Compaq, HP
Manufacturer DEC, Samsung, Intel, IBM
Type Microprocessors
Introduction February, 1992 (announced)
November 20, 1992 (launch)
Architecture Alpha-based performance CPUs
ISA Alpha
µarch 21064, 21164, 21264, 21364
Word size 64 bit
8 octets
16 nibbles
Process 0.75 μm
750 nm
7.5e-4 mm
, 0.675 µm
675 nm
6.75e-4 mm
, 0.50 µm
500 nm
5.0e-4 mm
, 0.35 µm
350 nm
3.5e-4 mm
, 0.25 µm
250 nm
2.5e-4 mm
, 0.18 µm
180 nm
1.8e-4 mm
, 0.13 µm
130 nm
1.3e-4 mm
Technology CMOS
Clock 100 MHz-2,000 MHz
Package PGA-431, PGA-499, PGA-587, PGA-1443

Alpha was a family of 64-bit Alpha-based performance microprocessors designed by DEC and introduced in 1992.


Throughout the mid-80s DEC saw the rise of a number of RISC architectures such as MIPS and SPARC which they considered serious competition that will ultimately defeat their best attempts to improve VAX. After close to half a dozen resource projects, in the late 1980s DEC finally established an engineering team tasked with the job of creating a high-performance architecture that would be able to compete with those architectures all while providing an easy as possible migration path for existing VAX users and MIPS users. Their result was the DEC Alpha, an entirely new 64-bit architecture that would have at least a 25-year future by eliminating many architectural restrictions they thought would prevent them from improving in the future.

Introduced in late 1992, Alpha was a family of microprocessors designed for high-end desktops, workstations, and servers. At their introduction, those chips were the world's fastest, though their competitiveness dropped at later iterations (though some attributed this to Alpha's acquisition by Compaq in 1998). Alpha CPUs have gone through a handful of microarchitectures, each improving performance and capabilities.

Following DEC's acquisition by Compaq in 1998, Alpha's architecture was licensed to Samsung with the processors marketed and supported through API for a short period of time. Since Compaq was already committed to Intel's Itanium, Alpha's development more or less fell by the wayside. Despite continuous development of Alpha by Compaq, Compaq really didn't know what to do with Alpha and by 2001 they announced that they would phase out Alpha in favor of Itanium. HP showed renewed interest in Alpha following Compaq's merger with HP in 2001. Nevertheless, HP never restarted the development of the Alpha 21464 and the family was entirely phased out by the mid 2000s.


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Facts about "Alpha - DEC"
designerDEC +, Compaq + and HP +
first announcedFebruary 1992 +
first launchedNovember 20, 1992 +
full page namedec/alpha +
instance ofmicroprocessor family +
instruction set architectureAlpha +
manufacturerDEC +, Samsung +, Intel + and IBM +
microarchitecture21064 +, 21164 +, 21264 + and 21364 +
packagePGA-431 +, PGA-499 +, PGA-587 + and PGA-1443 +
process750 nm (0.75 μm, 7.5e-4 mm) +, 675 nm (0.675 μm, 6.75e-4 mm) +, 500 nm (0.5 μm, 5.0e-4 mm) +, 350 nm (0.35 μm, 3.5e-4 mm) +, 250 nm (0.25 μm, 2.5e-4 mm) +, 180 nm (0.18 μm, 1.8e-4 mm) + and 130 nm (0.13 μm, 1.3e-4 mm) +
technologyCMOS +
word size64 bit (8 octets, 16 nibbles) +