Linked by David Adams on Mon 19th Sep 2011 16:51 UTC, submitted by estherschindler
Intel With the Xeon 7600 line, Intel is finally using the 'R' word: RISC. It's targeting the mission-critical market dominated by Sun SPARC and IBM Power with the new chips, a first. Can the Xeon E7 processor deliver Intel's final blow to the RISC market, which includes its own Itanium?
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by aaronmcohen on Mon 19th Sep 2011 22:25 UTC
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I think it was Linux Torvolds who said that at the end of the day you are performing the same amount of work whether your processor is CISC or RISC. In full disclosure I work for Big Blue on the software side. My opinion is my own and doesn't represent anyone else living, dead, or yet to be born.

Will X86 appear in the high end? Of course they will. However as the article states RISC is not going away. At the top you are already seeing hybrid mainframes made up of x86_64 and power/RISC processors. The hybrid approach is to address specific workloads. The interesting thing is the intel machines that make it on the top500 are mainly driven by GPU and not CPU power.

The top is about raw efficiency and governance. As I quoted before, the difference between RISC and CISC workloads is negligible but it is what surrounds the processor that makes the difference. RISC based mainframes have nearly 100% workload efficiency which is very important at the top. It may not be important for a desktop but for data centers it is. Since data centers drive the Cloud services that provided content for many of our connected ARM devices, this market is growing. If anything I believe X86 will be reducing in number. It will be slowly replaced from the bottom by ARM.

Now of course someone is going to state that you can buy enough cheep x86 machines to top the 500 list but you end up paying the difference and then some in electricity. Unless you are from a country that has cheap electricity or have your own renewable energy generator (wind turbine, geo thermal, etc...).

In short I agree that Intel will increase their numbers in the high end market but I don't think the RISC processor numbers will decrease, I think the high end market will get bigger mainly driven by cloud services and virtualization.

Reply Score: 6

by Silent_Seer on Mon 19th Sep 2011 22:50 in reply to "RISC versus CISC? REALLY?"
Silent_Seer Member since:

I am sure you know what you are talking about, but there is a small mistake in there IMO. IBM's mainframe processors are not actually RISC but CISC. I am sure they share a lot of their internals with IBM's power processors, but the ISA is CISC. Ofcourse what you probably meant was x86 Vs the rest of the market where the rest of the market was labelled as RISC. And the rest of the market is often RISC, the only exceptions are the Itanium processors and IBM's Z series.

Reply Parent Score: 2

JAlexoid Member since:

IBM's* z line CPUs(the mainframe stuff) are not Power. They have different tasks at hand, they were built for a different environment. There is literally no other CPU that was specifically built like z was and not a single one can compare.
The z CPU was never intended for high load processing, it was created for total throughput. Thus Watson is not on a z CPU, but on Power. And IBM's Supercomputers are on Power instead of z. In fact, Power CPU was a result of the early IBM's supercomputers.

* - my former employer

Reply Parent Score: 3

aaronmcohen Member since:

There are very few true RISC processors left. The longer processors are on the market the greater the instruction set gets. You are correct. I used the term RISC to mean the market which includes IBM, HP, SUN/ORACLE, etc...

Reply Parent Score: 1

by dvzt on Tue 20th Sep 2011 07:16 in reply to "RISC versus CISC? REALLY?"
dvzt Member since:


I think you are confusing servers and supercomputers here. They are different things with different purpose.

The top is about raw efficiency and governance.

In this regard it is not. The top is all about RAS.

Reply Parent Score: 2