cover image

DEC Alpha

64-bit RISC instruction set architecture / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Dear Wikiwand AI, let's keep it short by simply answering these key questions:

Can you list the top facts and stats about DEC Alpha?

Summarize this article for a 10 years old


Alpha (original name Alpha AXP) is a 64-bit reduced instruction set computer (RISC) instruction set architecture (ISA) developed by Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC). Alpha was designed to replace 32-bit VAX complex instruction set computers (CISC) and to be a highly competitive RISC processor for Unix workstations and similar markets.

Quick facts: Designer, Bits, Introduced, Design, Type...
"Alpha Generation" logo used by Digital
DesignerDigital Equipment Corporation
Introduced1992; 31 years ago (1992)
ExtensionsByte/Word Extension (BWX), Square-root and Floating-point Convert Extension (FIX), Count Extension (CIX), Motion Video Instructions (MVI)
General-purpose31 plus always-zero R31
Floating point31 plus always-0.0 F31
Alpha microprocessors
DEC AXP 21064 die photo
DEC AXP 21064 package
DEC AXP 21064 bare die mounted on business card with some statistics
Compaq 21264C

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 (formerly named OpenVMS AXP), Tru64 UNIX (formerly named DEC OSF/1 AXP and Digital UNIX), Windows NT (discontinued after NT 4.0; and prerelease Windows 2000 RC2),[2] Linux (Debian, SUSE,[3] Gentoo and Red Hat), BSD UNIX (NetBSD, OpenBSD and FreeBSD up to 6.x), Plan 9 from Bell Labs, and the L4Ka::Pistachio kernel. A port of Ultrix to Alpha was carried out during the initial development of the Alpha architecture, but was never released as a product.[4]

The Alpha architecture was sold, along with most parts of DEC, to Compaq in 1998.[5] 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,[6] 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.[7]