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back to article Remember that Xeon E7-Itanium convergence? FUHGEDDABOUDIT

If you are an Itanium shop and you were hoping for a big upgrade in performance with the future "Kittson" Itanium processors around two years from now, it looks like you can forget it. It ain't gonna happen – and you can also delete from your memory the idea of a common socket for Xeons and Itaniums. On January 31, on the …

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Anonymous Coward

Spin

Cue positive spin from Matt Bryant in 1, 2, 3...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Spin

I honestly don't know how anyone could put a positive spin on this, although I am sure we will find out. HP is basically saying Kittson doesn't exist, we are going to goose Poulson a bit in the 32nm process and just call it Kittson. Oracle actually produced some HP internal emails on this topic. HP had a hypothetical plan to continue to produce Kittson under a new name for a few more generations. Basically just tweaking Kittson and calling it some new name to give the appearance of innovation. This means that HP has not seen it worth investment to even produce the first Kittson. It sounds like they are going to tweak Poulson a bit in a year or two and call it Kittson.

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Trollface

Re: Spin

".....HP is basically saying Kittson doesn't exist, we are going to goose Poulson a bit in the 32nm process and just call it Kittson....." No, that is what TPM is saying. You obviously missed the bit about "future development", which implies a further development of Itanium. Of course, having to accept that would malke the IBM trolls' heads explode.

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Happy

Re: Spin

No need to cue the IBM trolls, they live here as TPM's pro-IBM articles give them hope.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Spin

Well obviously HP's press release isn't going to be: "Intel just gave up on Itanium. They asked for more cash to develop 22nm. We said it doesn't make financial sense. Intel was more than fine with ending Itanium development at 32nm." I am sure there will be "future development" in the form of boosting the clock speed by a tenth of a Ghz or putting some more cache on the Tukawila/Poulson 32nm process chip and calling it Kittson.

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Re: Spin

This is the obvious result of Intel moving all of the Itanium engineers to xeon in 2011.

http://www.xbitlabs.com/news/cpu/display/20110417112218_Intel_Relocates_Itanium_Engineers_to_Xeon_Projects_Sources.html

Shocking that intel will not simply move the poulson chip onto 22nm and put a larger cache on it.

How hard could that be, but its all about money. Intel wants more money from HP and HP does not have any money, so that make processors thru 2017 will be just poulsons.

And the end of the story is now.

e99

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Boffin

Re Alli Re: Spin

"....Shocking that intel will not simply move the poulson chip onto 22nm and put a larger cache on it....." It would have been that simple a few years ago with the old process, but now Intel has invested in the new 3D Tri-gate process, and it appears that shrinking Itanium down and introducing the new process in one step has proved too much.

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Paris Hilton

Re: Re Alli Spin

Thanks for the explanation, curious if there will ever be a 22nm chip. Intel said kitson will not be for two years that makes it 2015 and I think the agreement was only till 2017 in making the chips. But I am sure Intel could make enough chips for 10 years in their fab in one week since there is not that much supply.

cheers....e99

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Boffin

Re: Re Alli Spin

"......curious if there will ever be a 22nm chip...." So are we. There were hints coming out of Intel that the Tri-gate process was making deadlines tough to meet, so I suspect Intel simply took the easy route for a quick upgrade they could pin on the roadmap. As it is, we're just getting Poulson systems now, and they do provide a nice performance jump over Tukzilla, so another jump in two or so years will be welcome. The fun is what happens after that, which I suppose will have to wait for another NDA session with hp and/or Intel, probably when they know in a year or so's time.

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Childcatcher

Please No..

If HP hadn't blown so much money on Autonomy, it could pick up AMD for a song...

And run it completely into the ground like everything else HP touches these days? AMD's doing bad enough as it is.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Please No..

It is interesting to think about though. For the cost of Autonomy, they could have bought Sun Microsystems, AMD and throw in Brocade as well.

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Devil

Re: Please No..

That would be like Batman expensively tooled up and ready to rumble with ANTHYING ... then falling down stairs.

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Re: Please No..

The sensible thing for HP to do is still to throw as much cash as possible at AMD to develop server ARM tech.

Suppliers who push you to take a product and then cut support need a good beating. Also, process migration across cores is cool.

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Anonymous Coward

If that doesn't send warning bells about the future of Itanium, what will?

What happens if Intel later just kills Itanium? Intel and HP have an agreement for chips to be produced until 2017. That doesn't mean Intel will make updates though. So it could be 4 years of the 9500. Maybe a slight update could be done. HP will need to make another payment to Intel. When does HP decide that this arrangement is a failure.

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Anonymous Coward

BeFuddled

I never understand the abandonment of the PA-RISC chip. Managers and marketeers interfering in system design is never a good thing.......................

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Re: BeFuddled

Itanium is a direct evolution of PA-RISC, and there's a strong commonality from PA2 instructions to Itanium instructions - which is why execution of PA2 binaries on Itanium is pretty fast.

The core design, on the other hand, is fairly different - although some design factors like HP's tendency to like processors with huge chunks of fast SRAM and small cores survived. But the PA-8K design was probably nearing the end of its productive lifespan anyway, and at the time a lot of Itanium's design changes (OoO sacrificed in favor of wider issue) seemed like reasonable choices.

Given that Itanium roundly trounced PA-8K in benchmarks from the beginning, I have a hard time qualifying the move from the PA-8K design as a bad idea. That being said, IPF is pretty obviously dead as a doornail at this point.

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Re: BeFuddled

I always viewed it as Intel royally screwing HP in order to get access to some of the IP that they needed to speed up the Pentium processor.

PA-RISC was a fairly nice processor that HP had developed from discrete logic into multi and then single chip designs. For a preiod of time in 1990-1994, HP, Digital and IBM went head-to-head to try to produce the fastest chip/system. But rapid development of processors is an expensive operation, and HP did not commit to the same level of resource to keep the processor development going.

When Intel wanted to speed up their x86 processors, they needed to use technologies that they did not hold the rights to, mainly for the superscalar and deep pipeline techniques. They approached HP with an offer to take on the development of the EPIC processor which was to succeed the PA-RISC2 64 bit implementation in exchange for the rights to use some of the technologies that HP used in the PA-RISC family. This enabled Intel to produce faster and more competitive x86 cores (I think the first Intel processor to benefit was the P6 Pentium Pro), and in theory removed the cost of developing the next generation 64 bit processor from HP.

When it came to producing the processor that they promised to HP, Intel were a bit tardy. They produced the original Itanium which was something like 2 years late, was not as compatible with PA-RISC2 as it was supposed to have been, and was slower than promised. Compared to other contemporary processors, the Merced implementation of Itanium was considered very disappointing. So Intel benefited greatly with their own processors, and HP suffered.

This left HP with a gap in the late '90s that meant that they had to continue using the PA-8X00 processor family beyond it's natural lifetime. The fact that HP managed to get significant performance increases by iterative evolution was probably a testament to the design of the original processor and the people remaining in HPs processor development team.

Sounds like HP are still being screwed over. I wonder if there is anybody left in HP who regrets the decisions taken back in the mid '90s.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: BeFuddled

With the greatest possible respect Peter, you seem to have missed the elephant in the room.

The patent dispute that mattered was between Intel and DEC; right now I don't have time to expand on the details but readers can find various accounts, which likely don't paint the HQs at either DEC or Intel in a very positive light. I particularly liked the Intel VP quoted as saying "we ran out of people and companies to copy from" (or words to that effect).

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FAIL

Re: Peter Gathercole Re: BeFuddled

Close but no cigar.

"....They approached HP with an offer to take on the development of the EPIC processor ...." Hp developed the first Merced generation of Itanium. They realised early on in development that the platform was great for porting, and decided that if they could persuade other partners to pick it up then they could maximise their return on investment, so they approached Intel (not the other way round).

".....When it came to producing the processor that they promised to HP, Intel were a bit tardy...." The delays in getting the first Itanium design out, Merced, a development version, was an hp issue, not an Intel one. Intel then took on the major role in developing Itanium2.

"......So Intel benefited greatly with their own processors, and HP suffered....." Hmmmm, hp gained a production and development partner with massive scale, they gained a chip that allowed them to continue making enterprise UNIX servers, plus easily migrate Compaq's old enterprise customers, plus it killed off many of their competitors. Yeah, disaster - NOT!

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Re: Peter Gathercole BeFuddled

"Hp developed the first Merced generation of Itanium. They realised early on in development that the platform was great for porting, and decided that if they could persuade other partners to pick it up then they could maximise their return on investment, so they approached Intel (not the other way round)."

If you say so. Personally, I don't know how it went. However, as HP are having to pay Intel to keep the chip going, I guess Intel are happy with the arrangement. Not sure HP are as much though.

"The delays in getting the first Itanium design out, Merced, a development version, was an hp issue, not an Intel one. Intel then took on the major role in developing Itanium2."

Sorry? You're claiming that HP were selling a development version of the chip? Wasn't even a production version? I bet people who purchased servers with Merced in it are happy to hear that.

"Hmmmm, hp gained a production and development partner with massive scale, they gained a chip that allowed them to continue making enterprise UNIX servers, plus easily migrate Compaq's old enterprise customers, plus it killed off many of their competitors. Yeah, disaster - NOT!"

In general, the only chips it killed off were their own!! Is Sparc still there? Yes. Is Power still there? Yes. Is x86 still there? Yes. So, what exactly did Itanium kill off?

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Terminator

Re: Peter Gathercole BeFuddled

Itanium certainly killed off Alpha and MIPS (notwithstanding the latter's continued presence in the embedded market).

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Re: Peter Gathercole BeFuddled

You could possibly argue whether Itanium killed off MIPS. Maybe the other vendors had something to do with it as well. However, Itanium only killed off Alpha because they were both owned by HP. Would have been interested to see who would have prefered to stay on a developed Alpha and who would have prefered to jump to Itanium. From the people I know, most would have stayed on Alpha. Almost nobody in Alpha or PA-RISC was "happy" to move.

HP wanted to support only one processor into the future and chose Itanium. Many people would question the wisdom of this.

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Re: Ill-educated Mike Re: Peter Gathercole BeFuddled

".....If you say so. Personally, I don't know how it went......" Why would anyone expect you to know?

"....as HP are having to pay Intel to keep the chip going....." HP are paying a fab partner, just like other companies pay fab companies to make chips for them. An example is Apple who don't make any of their own chips.

".....I guess Intel are happy with the arrangement. Not sure HP are as much though....." Seeing as both are making a profit out of it they're probably both quite happy.

"....You're claiming that HP were selling a development version of the chip?....." Yes. That's exactly how hp sold it, so that early adopters could start on software. Some companies actually bought the first gen servers and used them in production anyway as they had the best floating integer performance going at the time, but otherwise they were slower than the PA-RISC chips of the day. HP sold the Merced boxes cheap to get ISVs on board so they could brag about 1500 Itanium-ready applications come the Itanium2 launch.

"....In general, the only chips it killed off were their own!!....." Apart from Rock, the last and stillborn UltraSPARC variant, did news reach the troll kindergarten of a range of chips called MIPS?

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Re: Ill-educated Mike Peter Gathercole BeFuddled

"Yes. That's exactly how hp sold it, so that early adopters could start on software. Some companies actually bought the first gen servers and used them in production anyway as they had the best floating integer performance going at the time, but otherwise they were slower than the PA-RISC chips of the day. HP sold the Merced boxes cheap to get ISVs on board so they could brag about 1500 Itanium-ready applications come the Itanium2 launch."

Strangely enough, I spoke with many a HP salesman from their BCS group at the time and investigated buying a Superdome. None of them ever told me it was a 'development' chip just to get ISVs interested. Wouldn't be HP FUD would it? And you go on about IBM FUD!! HP salesmen (and women) never once said to me it was development or anything other than a full offering. Your comment is absolute tripe.

"Apart from Rock, the last and stillborn UltraSPARC variant, did news reach the troll kindergarten of a range of chips called MIPS?"

You're just picking on any chip that didn't make it through that time and claiming Itanium killed it off!! You could just as easily claim Power or Xeon killed it off. In reality, what killed Rock was Sun. It had nothing to do with other chips. As for MIPS. To a degree maybe as I've acknowledged before. However, it has survived in one form of another and again, you could also blame every other chip around at the time for 'killing it'.

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Re: Peter Gathercole BeFuddled

Actually, no, Compaq killed Alpha in favour of Itanic in 2001 - before they were bought by HP.

See here, for instance.

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FAIL

Re: Re: Ill-educated Mike Peter Gathercole BeFuddled

".....I spoke with many a HP salesman from their BCS group at the time and investigated buying a Superdome...." Gosh, I'd believe you, only anyone who did actually enquire about Superdome would know they didn't come with the first generation Itanium, Merced, they either came with PA8600 or later PA-RISC CPUs or Itanium 2 CPUs. The "development" systems hp largely gave away were the rx9610 IIRC.

".....Your comment is absolute tripe....." I would suggest it is more a case of you simply not knowing what you're talking about, again. Yet again.

".....You're just picking on any chip that didn't make it through that time and claiming Itanium killed it off!!...." SGI actually bought the MIPS design and formed a compnay called MIPS Technologies, just so they were assured of the longterm longevity of their systems. IIRC they did so for eighteen to twenty years. They expressly ended their MIPS range to build Itanium servers:

http://www.osnews.com/story/15741/SGI_To_Drop_MIPS_Irix_Moves_to_Itanium_Linux/

Evidently the news didn't reach the troll kindergarten. Yet again.

I would suggest that you take time to learn something before your next foray, such as maybe spending a few years actually working in the industry.

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Re: Ill-educated Mike Peter Gathercole BeFuddled

"Gosh, I'd believe you, only anyone who did actually enquire about Superdome would know they didn't come with the first generation Itanium, Merced, they either came with PA8600 or later PA-RISC CPUs or Itanium 2 CPUs. The "development" systems hp largely gave away were the rx9610 IIRC."

All I can tell you is what I was told. They were referred to as Superdomes by the salesmen. As I don't care what a server is called, but what it does, I took them at their word. If you look up the rx9610 servers you've referred to, you will note they are described as being 'Superdome like' and 'call board based like Superdomes' etc. I guess that's close enough for a HP salesman. Anyway, our interest in them waned significantly when we realised just how poorly they performed, so we didn't get as far as talking about specific servers etc. When HP later came back with Superdomes containing Itanium 2's, we also looked at performance and whilst significantly better than the first offering, it still sucked compared to the competing chips. So, again, no dice.

"SGI actually bought the MIPS design and formed a compnay called MIPS Technologies, just so they were assured of the longterm longevity of their systems. IIRC they did so for eighteen to twenty years. They expressly ended their MIPS range to build Itanium servers:

http://www.osnews.com/story/15741/SGI_To_Drop_MIPS_Irix_Moves_to_Itanium_Linux/

Evidently the news didn't reach the troll kindergarten. Yet again.

I would suggest that you take time to learn something before your next foray, such as maybe spending a few years actually working in the industry."

MIPS was not killed off for one simple reason that may have escaped your attention. It still exists. Different role maybe, but the technology is still there and being developed for other purposes, so it did not die. Yes, SGI moved to Itanium. So what. That didn't kill MIPS. I've added a reference to the MIPS wikipedia page that shows the development continuing till ........ 2012. Good for a dead chip. Also, a supercomputer was built in 2007!!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MIPS_architecture

So, one company chose Itanium over MIPS, but other carried on with MIPS. It certainly didn't kill it. I also notice you've avoided answering my reply about Rocks.

I really do wish The Register would add an icon not just for 'fail', but 'epic fail' or 'tripe' as it would more accurately represent your reply quality.

I'll give you the challenge again. Name one chip that was actually killed off by Itanium as per your previous comments. Rock wasn't. That was killed by Suns incompetence and the advances of all other chip makers (so maybe an assist might be in order). As I've demonstrated above, MIPS wasn't. I might give you Alpha as stated by another poster. It was killed by Compaq in favour of Itanium. PA-RISC. Well, that was owned by HP, so that's a bit of a cheat really, as they simply didn't want to develop more than one chip. So, name another? Finding it hard? The reality is that Itanium was simply not a great game changer and didn't have anything like the impact predicted/hoped on the industry.

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Happy

Re: Ill-educated Mike Peter Gathercole BeFuddled

"All I can tell you is what I was told. They were referred to as Superdomes by the salesmen. As I don't care what a server is called, but what it does, I took them at their word. If you look up the rx9610 servers you've referred to, you will note they are described as being 'Superdome like' and 'call board based like Superdomes' etc....." Wriggle, wriggle, wriggle! The hp term "Superdome" wasn't used until long after the rx9610 had been released, you're just desperately looking at the hp Retired Products list and trying to paper over the immense gaps in your knowledge.

"....When HP later came back with Superdomes containing Itanium 2's, we also looked at performance and whilst significantly better than the first offering, it still sucked compared to the competing chips....." Yeah, was that "look" just as much fantasy as your Superdome rx9610? LOL! Credibility zero!

"......MIPS was not killed off for one simple reason that may have escaped your attention. It still exists. Different role maybe....." More wriggle, wriggle, wriggle. Being an embedded chip in a washing machine is not pass for being an enterprise solution, though it's probably as close as you've ever been to enterprise computing.

".....I really do wish The Register would add an icon not just for 'fail', but 'epic fail' or 'tripe' as it would more accurately represent your reply quality....." Hey, ask nicely and maybe they'll open a junior forum for you and your kindergarten buddies.

"...... Name one chip that was actually killed off by Itanium as per your previous comments....." I already showed how MIPS was replaced by SGI by Itanium, you're just too sulky to admit it. Now go take your afternoon nap, you're just getting a little tetchy.

"......Rock wasn't. That was killed by Suns incompetence...." Their incompetence in dropping the port of Slowaris to Itanium you mean, leaving them no alternative but to go begging to Fujitsu for SPARC64, a chip they spent years slagging off? Truly classic times, still makes me smile thinking about it.

Enjoy!

/SP&L

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Re: Peter Gathercole BeFuddled

Itanium certainly killed off Alpha and MIPS (notwithstanding the latter's continued presence in the embedded market).

Nothing "killed off ... MIPS". SGI stopped producing MIPS machines, but the Chinese have taken up the MIPS architecture with their Godson CPUs.

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Happy

Re: Peter Gathercole BeFuddled

"....... but the Chinese have taken up the MIPS architecture with their Godson CPUs." The Godson chip is aimed at Xeon, not Itanium. It also seems that Huawei and Inspur both looked at Godson and chose Itanium instead, so if Godson now falters and dies as a commercial enterprise CPU it will be another scalp claimed by Itanium.

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Trollface

On the plus side

I guess we can expect Larry to be in a great humour for years now as he sings the 'I was right' song.

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Facepalm

Re: On the plus side

"I guess we can expect Larry to be in a great humour....." Really? His last round of singing is due to land him with a $500m bill, and then he has to keep funding development of all his software on Itanium for hp's benefit until hp does finally call it a day. If Larry is singing it will be through gritted teeth.

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Re: On the plus side

Maybe. On the other hand, as Intel seem to have confirmed Itanium is dead, certainly after 2017, is he really worried. So, it cost him a few hundred million. Chicken feed. He would have to spend that money over the next few years contining to port the code onto Itanium, so little loss there. Presumably, he also hopes to pickup a certain amount of the hardware business as well. In the meantime, whether by telling the truth or not (individuals personal viewpoint), he has pretty effectively killed off the Itanium (whether it was dying or not beforehand).

It'd take a pretty brave soul to implement something from Oracle on Integrity now.

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FAIL

Re: Ill-educated Mike Re: On the plus side

".....as Intel seem to have confirmed Itanium is dead......" Once again, learn to read, it will prepare you better for these forums.

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There Is Still Hope

Perhaps future successors of the Xeon E7 could include a small amount of extra logic on the chip to alternatively decode Itanium instructions instead of x86 instructions. That would really give people wanting a choice between Itanium and x86 value for their money, as they could flexibly switch between both in the same box with the same chip.

That would let the Itanium easily take advantage of future x86 improvements without Intel having to devote a lot of effort to supporting it.

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Re: There Is Still Hope

Perhaps future successors of the Xeon E7 could include a small amount of extra logic on the chip to alternatively decode Itanium instructions instead of x86 instructions. [...] they could flexibly switch between both in the same box with the same chip.

They did the reverse with the original Itanics: Give it the hardware to decode x86 instructions natively and make the transition from x86 to Itanic easier. Then they found that it sucked in hardware and software emulation worked better.

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Boffin

Re: There Is Still Hope

"......They did the reverse with the original Itanics: Give it the hardware to decode x86 instructions natively and make the transition from x86 to Itanic easier....." That was because the original Itaniums were not intended to use x86 code much, so they put a whole Pentium3 on the die for the expected odd bit of x86 code. This did run x86 code, which was what was originally promised, just not as fast as a Xeon, unsurprisingly. Of course, the IBM and Sun FUD machines went into overdrive insisting that hp and Intel had claimed the Itanium would run x86 code as fast as a Xeon, an outright lie repeated endlessly by the trolls. In later developments it was found the emulators on Itanium could run x86 code better than the on-die Pentium3' so the die space was used for different enhancements.

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Re: There Is Still Hope

Why not go one step further, and did what AMD did with their 64bit chips.

Make 1 chip, that can run x86, x64 and itanic code all at the same time ?

Or are their technical reasons for disallowing that to happen ?

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Re: There Is Still Hope

I suspect that the reasons against doing that are purely commercial, not technical. It'd take a chunk of money, the result would likely be power hungry and run hot, and the market is anyway quite small. So yes it's perfectly feasible from a technica l point of view, but there's probably not much comercial point in doing so.

Some of Itanium's features are making it into x64 anyway. That'll erode Itanium's position further. For example Itanium has had a fused multiply-add instruction for ages, but only now are Intel getting round to putting one into x64. As soon as it's there, there'd be no reason to buy Itanium for its maths performance.

I pick out that one in particular - it's very useful in a lot of scientific computations and has been a glaring omission from x64/x86 for the past 13 years. PowerPCs from the 7400 family onwards (iMac G4 and upwards) had one back in 2000. As a result I was able to get faster runtimes out of 400MHz PowerPCs than 3.8GHz Pentium 4s,,,

Also I think it's clear that Intel don't want to do any more Itanium, not even merely stamping out the same old design on 22nm. What you suggest would be more work, but Intel clearly aren't in the mood for innovating along these lines.

HP are going to end up being an x64 house whether they like it or not. I wonder if they'll sue Intel like they did Oracle?

If Intel had pressed ahead with a common Xeon/Itanium socket HP's ability to differentiate their Itanium hardware would have been greatly diminished anyway. Hypothetically speaking, whatever technical cleverness HP get from their chipset (had they updated it) would then automatically work with Xeon as well (drivers permitting). If HP customers started wanting that cleverness but with x64, would HP have said no?

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Thumb Down

History repeating itself?

Reminds me of when Carly was still at the helm of HP and controlled the final years of Alpha processor development. Rather than come out with a true successor to the EV7 that was manufactured on a next-gen process, HP just bumped the EV7 clock speed by a few dozen MHz, slapped a "z" at the end of the product name, and called it a day.

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Re: History repeating itself?

In about 2005 HP flew us all out to their Bristol HQ to try and sell us this new inhouse cloud flexible dynamic computing clustering concept they had invented.

It consisted of being able to copy a drive image (slowly) from a SAN and reboot to gain an extra webserver or database server machine when you needed it. And this from the company that had incorporated the clustering technology of Tandem, Compaq and Dec !

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Anonymous Coward

So Oracle WAS right, after all?

Sure, they lost the overall court case as it seems promises were made to support HP's Itanium boxes, but the other big accusation/denial over the future of Itanium, looks like Larry was right. Bet we don't hear that mentioned much. Guess it's more fun to criticise Oracle...

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Trollface

HP was ... Big Leo

Just call it "The Pharmacy".

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Anonymous Coward

Alpha....

I bet HP are wishing they'd not canned the Alpha processor....

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Facepalm

Re: Alpha....

Why? Alpha was just a RISC design like PA-RISC and was hitting the end of the RISC development capability. It even had less of a market than PA-RISC. Itanium was designed from the ground up as a porting platform and offered far greater development than Alpha, and allowed hp to use one platform for multiple enterprise OSs (OpenVMS, Linux, Windows and hp-ux). Oh, sorry - did I expect you to understand an argument based on facts and logic?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Alpha....

Itanium is the perfect example that a good design on paper isn't always good in use.

Some may think older designs are archaic and not pretty, but they worked well.

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