Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 22nd Sep 2009 21:20 UTC
Intel More than a decade ago, Intel ran into an issue trying to deliver what was to be the world's top-ranked supercomputer: it looked possible that its new Pentium Pro processors at the heart of the system might not arrive in time. As a result, the chipmaker made an unusual move by paying Hewlett-Packard $100,000 to evaluate building the system using its PA-RISC processors in the machine, said Paul Prince, now Dell's chief technology officer for enterprise products but then Intel's system architect for the supercomputer. Called ASCI Red and housed at Sandia National Laboratories, it was designed to be the first supercomputer to cross the threshold of a trillion math calculations per second.
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RE[2]: Comment by kaiwai
by bannor99 on Wed 23rd Sep 2009 10:59 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by kaiwai"
bannor99
Member since:
2005-09-15

I have to wonder if people who call Itanium a "lemon" and "Itanic" have ever used one.

I do think that Intel didn't get the success they planned on. But it is a good processor.

I have a dual processor Itanium2 1.4GHz (Celestica off eBay) that produces roughly the same speed results as a 2GHz dual Opteron when I compile my software with GCC 4.4 with profiling feedback.

That's pretty good for a 600 MHz speed difference.

Itanium has other neat features, like not using the stack for function call returns. And things like a large selection of jumbo and giant page sizes.


First off, you're not using the "Itanic", you have the second generation. You're also using an up to date compiler - after all, the whole idea of the Itanium / EPIC arch was that the smarts would be in the compiler.

Based on your description, your Itanium2 could be as old as 2003 or as new as 2006. The Opterons have had such a wide clockspeed range that I can't tell how old they would be.
Let's assume that both your Opterons and Itaniums date to 2004; now answer these questions, what was the price differential? How about typical power dissipation? What was the performance of software using the compilers ( free or otherwise ) available at the time? If commercial compilers were used, how expensive were they?

Another thing to consider is that the original Itanium was supposed to deliver decent IA-32 performance - and it didn't, even though there was hardware emulation.

So the question remains, how could Intel and HP screw up so badly? It also opened the door for AMD to take the lead on Intel's own architecture. If AMD had had more fabrication plants and better manufacturing processes, Chipzilla might have gone the way of the dinosaur.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[3]: Comment by kaiwai
by tylerdurden on Thu 24th Sep 2009 00:07 in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by kaiwai"
tylerdurden Member since:
2009-03-17

No itanium was never supposed to provide decent X86 execution, if anything it was more focused on PA-RISC compatibility.

And even during the height of the Opteron, Intel was still selling more P4s/Xeons than AMD. It is not that AMD could have killed Intel with Opteron, as much as Opteron allowed AMD to not flat out die.

What many people neglect to understand is that Itanium did what intel set it out to do: kill competing architectures in the high end. MIPS, Alpha, PA-RISC all went the way of the dodo in the mid/high ends. SPARC is hanging by a thread, and PPC is pretty much on life support since IBM is not even clear if there will be a successor to POWER7. Most of the sales from the dismissal of those platforms went to Intel, either Itanium or Xeon is of little relevance, since a sale is a sale. So if anything, I assume Intel sees itanium as a marketing expense, more than a technical expense.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[4]: Comment by kaiwai
by bannor99 on Thu 24th Sep 2009 05:33 in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by kaiwai"
bannor99 Member since:
2005-09-15

No itanium was never supposed to provide decent X86 execution, if anything it was more focused on PA-RISC compatibility.


Sorry, but you're wrong. The Itanium was supposed to be the end-all and be-all. Go back and read the industry pundits pronouncements between the initial announcement and the first release.

If x86 performance didn't matter, they wouldn't have wasted precious silicon on it - however, it was supposed to be "good enough" but, by the time the chips were shipping, it simply wasn't.


And even during the height of the Opteron, Intel was still selling more P4s/Xeons than AMD. It is not that AMD could have killed Intel with Opteron, as much as Opteron allowed AMD to not flat out die.


As I clearly stated, AMD's problem has, for a long time, been one of manufacturing yields not design.
The much ballyhooed Core i7 that has put Intel squarely
back at the top of the heap features designs that AMD introduced with the Athlon 64, 6 years ago.
However, Intel has revived HyperThreading which, may just work, this time around.
Intel's manufacturing strength has always allowed them to throw more cache at the problem or go for the next die shrink, keeping their chips competitive and forcing AMD to play catch up, even when their design was superior.
Now, however, they are behind on all counts, except perhaps price/performance [/q]

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[4]: Comment by kaiwai
by bannor99 on Thu 24th Sep 2009 05:37 in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by kaiwai"
bannor99 Member since:
2005-09-15

Nope. It was supposed to give "good enough" x86 performance. If that wasn't the case, they wouldn't have wasted precious hardware on it. Trouble was, the hardware didn't deliver.

As for AMD, until the Core i7 release from Intel, they've had the design lead but have always lagged on manufacturing yields, total chip output and die shrink.
Now, they've lost the edge in design so the next year could be really bad for them if they also lose the price/ performance edge ( assuming they still have it ).

Reply Parent Score: 1