Re: Alpha & Sparc news of interest

Charlie Stross (
Wed, 28 Jan 1998 09:57:29 +0000

On Tue, Jan 27, 1998 at 08:41:51PM -0500, Entropyfoe wrote:
> Perhaps the gov is correct to try and restrain Microsift from taking over the
> data sphere. The Wintel conspiracy expands. The below snipped text is really
> caused by Intel's recent aquisition of DEC's semiconductor operation. Intel
> teaming with the boys in Redmond want to squash all other operating system/HW
> alternatives. Sinister indeed. Will the anti-trust folks allow the Intel take
> over of the Alpha manufacturer? Intel promises to "support" the Alpha for 10
> years, but this will be a vehicle for Microsoft domination.

It all sounds a little paranoid to me. On the other hand, I'm inclined
to believe it because of another recent incident that bit me ...

I'm a software guy: I don't care much about the underlying hardware as
long as it works. I spent many years messing with Macs, then switched back
to PCs running UNIX or Linux. About this time last year, I bought a PC
as a workstation. Pentium 133 processor, VX motherboard ... pretty vanilla
sounding, except for the 64Mb of RAM and the fast SCSI bus. (Why do
commercial PCs always have crap peripherals and too little memory?) Anyway,
this month it's due for its mid-life refit: I want to upgrade it to
128Mb of RAM (all I can put in it without ditching my old SIMMs or buying
a new motherboard) and a faster CPU. This should be straightforward, right?


Middle of last year, Intel introduced their MMX nonsense -- basically
games accelerators. No use to man, beast, nor Linux hacker. But it
turns out now (when I finally pay attention to the hardware market)
that the MMX Pentia are _not_ pin-compatible with the old ones; nor
do Intel make any non-MMX chips these days. No, I need a new motherboard --
also containing an Intel chipset! (Or a second-hand 200Mhz Pentium 1,
but they're as rare as hen's teeth.) Moreover, the new motherboards
only have 2 SIMM sockets (they're trying to move people forward to the
newer memory formats), so I wouldn't be able to upgrade my memory at
the same time. Or I could pay through the nose for an Intel overdrive
chip ...

Why do I feel as if I'm being whipsawed by Intel? Their CPUs are
supposeduly instruction-set compatible all the way back to the 4004,
but in real terms they want the users on a continual upgrade treadmill
just as badly as Microsoft do.

Methinks I'm going in search of a second-hand pentium chip. And my
next PC will contain NO components made by Intel and NO software by

-- Charlie