Linked by Eugenia Loli on Tue 15th Jul 2003 18:26 UTC
OpenStep, GNUstep Every so often I have this urge (maybe more of an itch) to spend hours and hours on the web trying to find information about old, obsolete computers of the past. I am intrigued by the XEROX Alto and Star ('70s-'82), the Apple Lisa ('83) and, of course, CRAYs ('75-ish). These were revolutionary machines indeed, they wrote golden pages in the history of computing. In the end of the 1980s, a new innovative product was ready to ship, created by a bunch of people coming from Apple: The NeXT platform.
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Intel i860
by anonymous205 on Wed 16th Jul 2003 20:17 UTC

[I believe very few companies tried to use the i860 for general purpose (Oki, and maybe Stardent, and intel on their supers) since the chips was a total bitch to program. ]

Alliant was one of the companies that used i860 chips in their computers. Their FX2800 line of shared-memory parallel computers was based on this chip.

Also I think the distributed-memory Intel Touchstone machine at CalTech was based on i860 chips, and this was the predecessor for the commercial Intel Paragon machine.

There was also a workstation vendor that sold i860 based machines. I forget the name, maybe it was Oki as you say above? However, it became clear that Intel did not want to support and further develop the chip, so the mindshare eventually moved on to pentium-based machines at Intel. This is probably what killed Alliant as a company, they had invested everything in building hardware based on that chip after moving away from their propreitary hardware (the earlier FX8 products).

All RISC machines are hard to program. I'm not sure the i860 was any harder than any of the others at the time (about 1990 to 1993). If I remember correctly, the chip had a 40 MFLOPS theoretical peak performance (64-bit floating point), and you could achieve a respectable 36 MFLOPS actual performance on matrix-matrix products. For the time, this was about as good as it got for microprocessors -- it would take another 4 or 5 years for the pentium performance to catch up.