As if its life depended on it, Digital Equipment Corp attested to having the only products with a 64-bit architecture when it launched its first generation of Alpha AXP machines worldwide yesterday, saying competitors like Hewlett-Packard Co and Sun Microsystems Inc cannot hope to match with their new 32-bit offerings (CI No 2,047). The Alphas spans desktop to mainframe-class systems, and will later include palm-tops and supercomputers. They all use the DECchip 21064 microprocessor, which has 8Kb instruction and data caches on board. The DEC 3000 Model 400 desktop and server, with 133MHz CPU are ?15,000 and ?19,000 respectively; the 150MHz DEC 3000 Model 500 desktop and server, ?39,000 and ?41,200 respectively; the 160MHz DEC 4000 Distributed or Departmental System, ?77,000; the 182MHz DEC 7000 Data Centre System, ?168,000, the 200MHz DEC 10000 Mainframe-Class System, ?316,000. DEC didn't specify memory and disk included in the base prices. The All will ship between now and Christmas, although the mainframes will not be available until the end of the year or possibly the first quarter 1993 only with OpenVMS: the shade of Ken Olsen still hovers, and if you want OSF/1 Unix, you'll have to wait until March. UK chairman Geoff Shingles refuted claims that the Alpha systems run better under OpenVMS, saying the new architecture had not been optimised for any particular operating system. Instead, he said, the two systems were aimed at different markets, even though OpenVMS was more secure in every sense of the word. An advanced developers kit will be available for Windows NT from December or January, and Shingles said that at least 10 developers had shown an interest. Some 500 applications for Alpha machines are available now, and over 2,000 will be released in the near future by 1,000 or so software developers. Users wanting to upgrade their VAX machines to Alpha, as Shingles expects they all will, simply take out their VAX board and slip in an Alpha one. Both can run the same software, and Telecom Eire, a new Alpha user, says it takes only 30 minutes to upgrade VAX to Alpha.