Library Technology Guides

Document Repository

Digital NVAX a low risk

Library Systems Newsletter [September 1992]

Image for Digital NVAX a low risk

Digital's announcement of a new Alpha line of computers appears to have been a source of confusion for many, as well as a financial blow as sales of its existing VAX line plunged after the February 1992 demonstration of the first Alpha processor.

We have been asked several times whether it is risky to purchase a Digital VAX now when at least 13 Alpha platforms are scheduled to become available in 1993. The short answer is, it depends on the VAX platform.

Alpha is based on the same RISC (reduced instruction set computing) architecture pioneered by Hewlett-Packard and MIPS, and popularized by IBM with its RS/6000 line. The chip is 64- bit, a chip previously found primarily in mainframes. The new line will support UNIX as well as VMS, Digital's proprietary operating system. VMS will be renamed "Open VMS" because of Digital's conformity to POSIX, a standard for porting applications across multiple operating systems.

Alpha apparently will not be limited to VMS and UNIX. Digital plans to sell the chip to any company that wants to use it in their product--including PC manufacturers. The price has already come down to $1,559 when purchased in quantities of 1,000 or more. There is no reason that an Alpha computer could not run Windows NT and there are indications that it will be ported to Alpha.

Beginning in July, Digital introduced a series of NVAX processors which will be upgradable to the 64-bit Alpha processor when that device becomes available. The NVAX line includes the VAXstation 4000, Model 90; MicroVAX 3100, Model 90; VAX 4000, Models 100, 400, and 600; VAX 7000; and the VAX 10000. The board swap to convert an NVAX platform to Alpha will cost $10,000 to $250,000, depending on the size of the machine and the number of users for which it is licensed.

At least one vendor of a local library system, when proposing an NVAX processor, committed to a prospective customer that it would upgrade to Alpha with a board swap by late 1993 at no additional cost to that customer. But even NVAX users that do not upgrade to Alpha should still continue to have support from their hardware and software suppliers for five years. Therefore, for the NVAX models listed above and with the right commitments from the vendor, the purchase of a Digital NVAX can be a low-risk choice.

View Citation
Publication Year:1992
Type of Material:Article
Language English
Published in: Library Systems Newsletter
Publication Info:Volume 12 Number 09
Issue:September 1992
Publisher:American Library Association
Place of Publication:Chicago, IL
Notes:Howard S. White, Editor-in-Chief; Richard W. Boss, Contributing Editor
Company: Digital Equipment Corporation
Record Number:5131
Last Update:2022-09-14 13:59:32
Date Created:0000-00-00 00:00:00