Alpha Emulators

Emulators are an excellent way to replace aging hardware, saving electricity, rack space, and support costs. (Don’t think you’ll save on administration costs though: the operating system still requires support….)

However, finding emulators for architectures other than the i386 and its ilk can be difficult, particularly for recent orphans. The really old processors are emulated more often (such as the PDP series and others emulated by the SIMH emulator, or the System/370 and its ilk emulated by the Hercules emulator).

Emulators for the DEC Alpha are out there, but are not that easy to find. Stromasys has several, including the PersonalAlpha that can be used for personal use and the Charon-AXP which is a commercial product. For Charon-AXP, they now offer the Charon-AXP NCE (Non-Commercial Edition) which runs on Linux. Charon-AXP has for a long time been the best-known Alpha emulator out there, and there is a lot of recommendations for this product from those in the know.

There is also the open source project ES40, which aims to create an open source ES40 emulator. ES40 has a presence on Ohloh and on Sourceforge. There doesn’t seem to have been any activity on the project over the last year, which is unfortunate.

There is another emulator, FreeAXP, now entering beta status. FreeAXP emulates an AlphaServer 400 and is a prelude to a commercial Alpha emulator product from Migration Specialties, and FreeAXP will be available for commercial and non-commercial use. The current FreeAXP beta appears to be for 64-bit Windows only; the 32-bit Windows version was to come later.

Both FreeAXP and PersonalAlpha appear to be for Windows XP or Windows 7 only; neither list Windows 2000 as an option, and neither run on Linux or Unix. There is a Charon-AXP for OpenVMS, however.

News about Alpha emulators can often be had over at the OpenVMS Hobbyist Portal. After all, what better to run on an Alpha than OpenVMS?