[TUHS] DEC's MIPS product (was If not Linux, then what?)

Paul Winalski paul.winalski at gmail.com
Thu Aug 29 05:14:42 AEST 2019

On 8/28/19, Clem Cole <clemc at ccc.com> wrote:
> So, I think the MIPS product was a holding pattern while DEC got it's
> strategy together. Alpha would really show up until later (I would leave
> LCC and go to DEC to be apart if that).   Also note Alpha was brought
> up/debugged on Ultrix and of course, Prism sort of had Ultrix on it.    But
> I think using the MIPS chip keep them in the game, when Vax was dying and
> RISC was the word on the street.

I was in DEC's compiler development team at the time, working on the
new GEM common back end, and this matches my recollection.  The
original plan was for GEM to be the successor to the VAX Code
Generator (VCG, the common back end used by DEC's PL/I, Ada, C/C++ and
a few other compilers on VAX/VMS) and its first target was the VMS
personality module Prism's OS, Mica.  Prism was close to delivering
silicon when it was cancelled in favor of Alpha.  DEC's MIPS-based
products were done as a stopgap until Alpha was ready.  The GEM group
implemented a MIPS code generator.  I don't recall whether we actually
shipped any GEM-based products on the MIPS/Ultrix platform.  GEM
focused on Alpha (on VMS, Unix, and Windows host and target platforms)
shortly thereafter.

-Paul W.

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