Hewlett-Packard in January plans to release the last major update to its Alpha chip, the EV7, paving the way for the retirement of the storied high-end processor.
An updated version of that chip, the EV79 will follow about 12 months later, HP executives said at a meeting this week with financial analysts. At that point, HP plans to shift Alpha into what it calls "maintenance mode," a move that will save the company hundreds of millions of dollars.
The updated Alpha schedule is a slight departure from HP's previous timetable. In May, HP had said that the EV7 would debut in late 2002.
HP is retiring Alpha, along with its PA-RISC processor, in favor of building systems using Intel's Itanium chip, which is based on an architecture HP helped develop. By shifting to Itanium, HP stands to save significant development costs. However, HP is betting big that Itanium sales will replace the business HP will lose from Alpha and PA-RISC based systems.
Alpha and PA-RISC processors account for $5 billion in annual revenue, more than a quarter of HP's total enterprise systems business, according to Peter Blackmore, HP executive vice president.