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Alpha was a microprocessor from Digital Equipment Corporation which was based on 64-bit reduced instruction set computing (RISC). It was designed to replace DEC's 32-bit VAX complex instruction set. The DEC Alpha microprocessors were used in a variety of Digital Equipment Corporation’s servers and workstations. The Alpha architecture was sold by Digital Equipment Corporation to Compaq, who later phased it out and sold all Alpha-related intellectual properties to Intel.
The first few Digital Equipment Corporation Alpha chips were quite innovative for their time. The first version, Alpha 21064, was in fact the first CMOS-based microprocessor to have the operating frequency matching the higher-powered ECL mainframes and minicomputers. The DEC Alpha did not have suppressed instructions, branch delay slots or store instructions. It also did not make use of condition codes mainly used in integer instructions. The Alpha made use of 64-bit linear virtual address space with absolutely no memory segmentation. The architecture for Alpha also made use of a set of 32 integer registers and 32 floating-point registers, two lock registers, a floating-point control register and a program counter.
As far as the microprocessor industry is concerned, the Alpha microprocessor holds its place in history due to the manner in which it was implemented. The Alpha microprocessor, when implemented, showed that manual circuit design is possible and could lead to a simple, transparent and clean architecture, and thereby higher operating frequencies compared to designs done with the help of automated design systems.