Compaq quits porting Tru64 Unix to IA-64

Compaq has ceased its efforts to port its version of the Unix operating system - Tru64 Unix - for Intel's forthcoming IA-64 platform.

The company plans to focus its Tru64 Unix efforts on its own Alpha processor platform, according to Tom Yeates, director of high-performance servers at Compaq EMEA (Europe, the Middle East and Africa). Compaq will not port Tru64 Unix to Intel's Merced, said Yeates, and future members of Intel's next-generation IA-64 family of 64-bit processors.

"It appears to us as Alpha develops that there is no point in rolling it [Tru64] out on any other platform. The design integration will not be bettered, " Yeates said.

The move will not involve any significant employee shifts or cost savings for Compaq, according to Yeates. It also fits into Compaq's efforts to separate its computing efforts into what it calls industry-standard computing on Intel platforms, and high-performance computing on its own Alpha chip platform, according to Herbert Wenk, a Compaq spokesman in Munich.

Compaq has already announced that it will also not continue developing Microsoft's Windows NT or Windows 2000 operating systems to the Alpha chip platform.

Compaq's moves could, however, also lead to the marginalisation of the Alpha chip, noted Kirsten Ludvigson, research manager at IDC's Copenhagen office. Over the long run, that could lead large companies with lots of Tru64 on Alpha installations to focus their efforts elsewhere.

"We do see that Alpha chips are on a decline in use for workstations and servers," Ludvigson said, noting that Compaq lost its marketing focus on the chip in the wake of its merger with DEC. "They have now renewed that focus. We will see what happens," Ludvigson added.

Compaq acquired both Tru64 -- which used to be called Digital Unix -- and the Alpha chip platform when it purchased Digital Equipment last year. As recently as July, Compaq said it would continue efforts to port Tru64 on the Intel platform.

The company maintains that it is as devoted as ever to Alpha. "This gives us a clear specific focus on Tru64 on Alpha," Compaq's Yeates said.

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