Speaking at the launch yesterday (20 January) in Amsterdam, Rich Marcello, vice-president and general manager for the Alpha Systems division at HP, said the company planned to introduce one more generation of Alpha Server before the technology was phased out.
The latest family of servers would be available by 2004 and would be sold by HP until 2006. "The long-term plan for all are processing technology is to converge on Itanium," said Marcello. Users would have until 2011 to migrate from Alpha onto Intel's 64-bit Itanium architecture.
HP has created the Alpha Retain Trust programme to help users move to the Itanium architecture. "Most users are likely to make the move between 2005 and 2006," Marcello said.
The Alpha chip runs two main operating systems: Tru64, the former Compaq Unix operating system and OpenVMS.
HP had said Tru64 users would be offered a migration path onto its HP-UX Unix operating system. But Marcello said the True Cluster and Advanced Files System technologies in its Tru64 Unix would not be merged into HP-UX until 2004. "We're taking the best capabilities of Tru64 and merging them into HP-UX."
Users on VMS would also have to wait at least until the end of 2004 before HP created an Itanium version of this operating system.
Marcello did not anticipate providing OpenVMS users with a migration path to HP-UX, admitting users would not be in a position to migrate to Itanium until the migration work for these two operating systems was complete.
The Itanium strategy also affects users of HP's NonStop system. Migration work on its MIPs-based NonStop servers is expected to finish in 2007 when the NonStop kernel would be made available on Itanium.
Commenting on the company's strategy he said, "We are swapping out a chip just as BMW would tell its customers it is changing an engine - it is still a BMW," said Marcello.