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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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Alpha.... - facts and logic

    Just for the record, Alpha was also designed from the ground up as a porting platform, and allowed DEC to use one platform for multiple enterprise OSes (VMS, Tru64 UNIX aka OSF/1, Windows and Linux(es) were delivered, as were some others readers probably won't know including for those in the RT market, VxWorks).

    Alpha died for reasons of DEC/CPQ/Intel politics; it was bullied (strongarmed?) out. It had plenty of engineering headroom.

  2. Roo
    Flame

    Re: Alpha....

    "Why? Alpha was just a RISC design like PA-RISC and was hitting the end of the RISC development capability."

    The Alpha architecture ran out of development budget, it certainly did not die because it was built on RISC principles. It would appear that EPIC is now facing the same end as the Alpha.

    That said EPIC does have a fundamental weakness when compared to CISC & RISC. Folks who design cores for a living have pointed out that EPIC requires large (and consequently slow) register files that would ultimately limit the clock rate and burn more power. History has proven them to be correct.

    EPIC doesn't fit into the real-world as well as *some* CISC & RISC architectures.

    It would be nice if you stuck to the facts instead of making shit up.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Alpha....

    "Some may think older designs are archaic and not pretty, but they worked well." I agree, but that applies equally as much to x86 as to PA-RISC and Alpha. For some reason, a lot of people are extremely unwilling to accept that.

  4. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Re: Alpha....

    But Itanium was designed from the ground up..... - BY A COMPETITOR

    It's like Fedex deciding not to continue buying trucks, but accept UPS's kind offer to ship your stuff with them.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Alpha.... - facts and logic

    In addition, unlike IA64, the Alpha architecture was licenced to a number of other chip designers and manufacturers. One of them, not that well known in the industry at the time, is rather better known these days. Samsung. Samsung even had actual commercial product that shipped, from chips (eg 21164PC?) to board-level stuff (the board that became the DEC AlphaServer DS20????). There was never any real chance of multi vendor support with the IA64 monstrosity; even Compaq's rebadged Unisys systems (sold as Proliant 9000?) were an abysmal failure.

    Interested readers who want to know why DEC thought Alpha would technically have remained ahead of IA64 might like to have a read of the 1999 DEC whitepaper comparing architectural (not just implementation) features of Alpha and IA64, still available at

    http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~mlewis/CSCI3294-F01/Papers/alpha_ia64.pdf

  6. Mad Mike
    Unhappy

    Re: Alpha....

    Sorry Matt, but I couldn't help but respond. Perhaps you could enlighten us with how many of those operating systems are left with? You know, with Itanium versions in the future?

    RedHat linux? No.

    Windows? No.

    So, the only operating systems that can run on Itanium in the future are HP ones...............

    Doesn't matter what was intended, just what's happened.

  7. Mad Mike

    Re: Alpha....

    "hitting the end of the RISC development capability"

    Yeah. After all, there are no RISC based processors around anymore. Oh, hang on, there are. I'm quite sure Alpha could have continued, but like all the processors that were supposedly heading towards a wall, which was then avoided.

  8. /dev/null
    WTF?

    Re: Alpha....

    The Alpha architecture was intended to have a lifespan of 25 years. Whether it was capable of that is moot, since it was canned after 12, but there were at least two more generations under development when that happened.

    Oh and OpenVMS, Linux and Windows already ran on Alpha platforms, as did Tru64 UNIX. Not a bad "porting platform" (whatever that is exactly...).

  9. Billl
    Facepalm

    Re: Alpha....

    "end of the RISC development capability."

    Huh? End of the RISC development capability? What does that even mean? Most/All of the interesting things being done in chips today is in the RISC world (ARM, Power, Sparc, MIPS even). I don't really understand what your comment means.

  10. Matt Bryant Silver badge
    Happy

    Re: Ill-educated Mike Re: Alpha....

    "Sorry Matt, but I couldn't help but respond....." What, you spotted another thread where you think you can roll with the trolls? What a surprise - not!

    "....Perhaps you could enlighten us with how many of those operating systems are left with?....." Apart from hp-ux and OpenVMS? Well, there's the question of what Huawei are going to run on their Itanium servers, but it's probably going to be a Red Flag Asianux Server variant, which already supports Itanium: http://www.redflag-linux.com/en/product_end.php?class1=10&class2=1&productid=1

    And whilst you state no RHEL or Windows support, I can still run the supported versions. Should I get bored, I can even load up a fully-supported latest version of Debian: http://cdimage.debian.org/debian-cd/6.0.6/ia64/iso-cd/

    Or even Gentoo: http://distfiles.gentoo.org/releases/ia64/autobuilds/current-iso/

    Oh dear, it looks like your eagerness to be "one of the gang" has led you into another arena you know SFA about. Now be a good trainee troll and go get your diaper changed, it's almost as full of the brown stuff as teh rest of you.

  11. Mad Mike
    FAIL

    Re: Ill-educated Mike Alpha....

    "Apart from hp-ux and OpenVMS? Well, there's the question of what Huawei are going to run on their Itanium servers, but it's probably going to be a Red Flag Asianux Server variant, which already supports Itanium: http://www.redflag-linux.com/en/product_end.php?class1=10&class2=1&productid=1"

    "And whilst you state no RHEL or Windows support, I can still run the supported versions. Should I get bored, I can even load up a fully-supported latest version of Debian: http://cdimage.debian.org/debian-cd/6.0.6/ia64/iso-cd/"

    "Or even Gentoo: http://distfiles.gentoo.org/releases/ia64/autobuilds/current-iso/"

    Oh yes. All those so well known enterprise class business operating systems!!!!

    You really make me laugh. You stayed away initially, but couldn't help yourself could you!!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Alpha....

    "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?"

    Same single-platform story applied to Alpha, as was pointed out to you earlier in the discussion (last time you claimed to be mentioning "facts and logic"?). Alpha also had two implementations of the realtime OS VxWorks, one from WRS and one from DEC, although not that many folk cared. IA64 couldn't reliably handle a real-time system if you tried, owing to the ridiculous context switch/exception handling latencies.

    As was also pointed out to you back then, unlike IA64, Alpha also had multiple licenced sources for the chips (designers and fabricators).

    Have a read of the 1999 DEC whitepaper comparing architectural (not just implementation) features of Alpha and IA64, still available at

    http://www.cs.trinity.edu/~mlewis/CSCI3294-F01/Papers/alpha_ia64.pdf

    Why are you even trying to argue that technology killed Alpha when it's perfectly obvious that corporat politics did?

    [yes all this has been said before in this very thread. Maybe Matt will actually acknowledge it this time. Or maybe not]

  13. Matt Bryant Silver badge
    FAIL

    Re: AC Re: Alpha....

    "Same single-platform story applied to Alpha....Alpha also had multiple licenced sources....." Neatly ignoring two simple facts - the size of the Alpha market was already smaller than the Itanium one, and it was far simpler to port all those Alpha OSs to Itanium than port hp-ux (bigger market than OpenVMS and Tru64 combined) to Alpha, because Itanium was designed to be a porting platform. The first fact convinced Compaq to switch from Alpha to Itanium, and the second convinced hp it was the right decision.

    "....Why are you even trying to argue that technology killed Alpha when it's perfectly obvious that corporat politics did?...." Sorry, but market facts killed Alpha in favour of Itanium. The decision to kill off Alpha was actually made by Compaq before they were bought by hp because switching to Itanium made more sense. Deny that all you like, you'll just be wrong again.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: AC Alpha....

    " The first fact convinced Compaq to switch from Alpha to Itanium"

    Compaq switched from Alpha to Itanium because Intel had made it clear that the Compaq/Intel "special relationship" (re x86) was at risk unless CPQ did as they were told. This was around the time when a 64bit x86 was still impossible (according to Intel) and IA64 was still going to be "industry standard 64bit".

    The HP-UX market was an HP-UX market. It wasn't specifically a PA-RISC market, and it isn't specifically an IA64 market. People largely continue to buy HP-UX *despite* IA64, not *because* of IA64.

    Ditto VMS. It was (and is) a VMS market, not an IA64 market. It was VMS that mattered when it was on VAX (though VAX was relatively unique in the early years), and it was VMS that mattered when it was Alpha, and the same still goes for IA64. People largely continue to buy VMS *despite* IA64, not *because* of IA64.

    Customers of HP-UX and VMS have little hardware reason to buy IA64, IA64 does little that can't already be done on an AMD64, and if/when those OSes become available on a subset of AMD64-based Proliant (check out the cores and memory on a high end Proliant), customers will continue to buy those OSes.

    VMS and HP-UX both have stuff that is unique to those OSes and provides businesses with some kind of advantage. What does IA64 have that is unique to it which is an *advantage* to the customer, the software developer, the system designer? IA64 has plenty which is a *disadvantage*.

    Anyways, readers don't need to take my word for it, they could ask (or look at) the customers, software developers, etc whose investment is in a multi-platform OS such as Linux or Windows. Folks who can choose their hardware platform are not choosing IA64, whatever Intel may once have said about "industry standard 64bit".

    The IA64 story is only going one way;the same way as Alpha (albeit perhaps for slightly different reasons).

  15. Matt Bryant Silver badge
    FAIL

    Re: AC Re: AC Alpha....

    ".......Compaq switched from Alpha to Itanium because Intel had made it clear that the Compaq/Intel "special relationship" (re x86) was at risk unless CPQ did as they were told......" And of course, you have some verifiable link to illustrate that little conspiracy theory? No, I didn't think so. Compaq had been making the Alpha in direct competition with Xeon ever since M$ did their NT port for Alpha and Intel hadn't batted an eyelid over the "special relationship", but suddenly you contend they went to town for Itanium? Get real.

    ".....The HP-UX market was an HP-UX market...." Duh! The fact that hp had announced they intended to port hp-ux off PA-RISC onto Itanium had assured Itanium of viability in the first place. That meant Itanium was the heir to the hp-ux market, which was bigger than VMS and Tru64 combined.

    ".....It wasn't specifically a PA-RISC market....." Er, yes it was! The only supported platform for hp-ux was PA-RISC, the hp announcement that it was all to go Itanium in the long term (as it has) means the hp-ux market became an Itanium market. Honestly, stop talking male bovine manure.

    "......People largely continue to buy HP-UX *despite* IA64, not *because* of IA64....." Companies continue to buy hp-ux because they get all the goodness of hp-ux but with the added speed that continued versions of Itanium have delivered.

    ".....Customers of HP-UX and VMS have little hardware reason to buy IA64, IA64 does little that can't already be done on an AMD64....." Er, except run OpenVMS and hp-ux you mean? DUH! Major fail. FFS, quit your shrieking and whining, we get it that you have an irrational hatred of Itanium because it killed Alpha. Get over it, move on!

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: On the plus side

    @Matt Bryant

    The court case is only almost over.

    I'm sure that it is no coincidence that Intel waited until the appeal was denied before dropping this little bombshell.

    Still, the next phase is where HP makes it's case for damages. I imagine that will be harder to pin any blame on Larry when Intel has clearly screwed HP as he claimed they would.

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/02/01/oracle_loses_hp_itanium_appeal/

    The last laugh may still be Larry's, I think!

  17. bazza Silver badge

    Re: On the plus side

    "I'm sure that it is no coincidence that Intel waited until the appeal was denied before dropping this little bombshell."

    Interesting! I wonder how long Intel has had their plan settled? Intel's announcement certainly does make the judgement against Oracle look a lot weaker now. No doubt some lawyer somewhere is busily trying to work out if Intel's timing is entirely innocent and, if not, whether any legal action can ensue.

    In a way it doesn't really matter whether the verdict against Oracle remains or is reversed. What matters really is how much cash Oracle have to give HP. I think you're right about HP finding it hard to pin any blame on Oracle now. They could walk away with a legal victory and no damages - hardly worth all the fuss. It would also be bad for HP's management team - it'd be regarded as yet another example of poor decision making on their part.

  18. Matt Bryant Silver badge
    Happy

    Re: Paul Turner 1 Re: On the plus side

    ".....The court case is only almost over....." No, it's over, all that needs to be settled is how much Larry has to pay for his massive FUD exercise. The final phase of the trial is equivalent to sentencing, Oracle's "guilt" has already been decided.

    ".....I'm sure that it is no coincidence that Intel waited until the appeal was denied before dropping this little bombshell....." As bombshells go, it's hardly major. Intel have not cancelled Itanium, as Oracle insisted they were going to, and have mentioned further development, which Oracle claimed would never happen. IBM's Power roadmap has slipped and dropped features plenty of times. Sun's old SPARC gag had more feature drops and slips than Power's and Itanium's combined, including the hilariously drawn out death of "Rock". I suppose the old Sunshiners just want any "good news" to save them from their misery, and the IBM fanbois tired of waiting for IBM's assurance that Power is the Only True Faith to come true.

  19. This post has been deleted by its author

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: On the plus side

    Yes, but in HP/Intel's defense, it is difficult to determine if this is what Oracle knew would happen and that is why they dropped Itanium, or if this happened because Oracle dropped Itanium. When Oracle, the most important ISV in Itanium by a mile (or kilometer in Europe), decided that they were dropping support, they clearly panicked the entire install base who stopped buying HP Itanium and made plans to migrate elsewhere (IBM Power or x86-Linux). It is a bit of a self fulfilling prophecy. Oracle said that Itanium was dead and, as a result of saying it, it became true. I don't think it had a rosy future regardless of the Oracle situation, but it is clear that Oracle expedited the decline. It is difficult to determine causation.

  21. Mugs

    Itanium doesn't have sufficient market share or performance advantage to survive. A rational HP would be looking to kill it off but with a defined migration path for NonStop and other customers. The money's in the software stack, not the hardware.

  22. Beachrider

    The Oracle HP Court case...

    Since there is a bit of discussion left to decide damages, it is premature to pronounce the court case as being over.

    It isn't.

    The really interesting thing is its effect on the Enterprise UNIX marketplace. That market is surely shrinking, but there are still mucho profits available there. Key application vendors still prescribe Enterprise UNIX for core functions in large deployments. If HP is losing traction and IBM doesn't advance its technology AND Oracle doesn't get more price competitive. then what happens to users in this market?

  23. This post has been deleted by its author

  24. tom 99

    looking from performance and TCO perspective...

    I'm wondering who wants to run Oracle on Itanium with ridiculous license core factor of 1.0? Given this and performance metrics, there is no sense at all to stick with itanium platform unless the application is not available on other cpus (which is not the case with Oracle database).

    Is there any benchmark on the planet where itanium is faster or equal to POWER or x86?

  25. Matt Bryant Silver badge
    FAIL

    Re: looking from performance and TCO perspective...

    "I'm wondering who wants to run Oracle on Itanium with ridiculous license core factor of 1.0?....." Probably the people that bought IBM Power and didn't realise Turbo mode meant paying for Oracle licences for all those cores switched off, i.e. a core factor of 2!

    ".....Is there any benchmark on the planet where itanium is faster or equal to POWER or x86?" Obviously the ones where hp managed to sell all those Itanium servers. Duh!

  26. phil64
    Happy

    Re: looking from performance and TCO perspective...

    "Is there any benchmark on the planet where itanium is faster or equal to POWER or x86?"

    Yes. I suggest to have a look at TPC-C, for single servers running Oracle.

    In 2007, Superdome 64p/128c 1.6GHz Montecito broke the 4Million tpmC barrier.

    It took 5 years for Oracle to beat this number with a Sun X2-8 8p/80c Xeon E7 at 5M tpmC.

    And the best Power result with Oracle is 1.6MtpmC, on a Power5 p5-595 in 2005. Power never ran TPC-C faster with Oracle.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Itanium dead, huzzah!

    Itanium is soon dead, and the HP FUD is going on. Intel has explicitly said Itanium is dead. Too bad HP is going down the drain. We have switched to IBM POWER because of major instability problems with the HP stuff, but POWER7 gives us everything we could dream of. We have replaced 1.500 HP servers with one single IBM P795 servers. These 64 cpu monsters gives us more performance for a fraction of the price. I have personally assigned 30 cpus to virtualize the HP load, and the other 34 cpus handle our SAP business. Great stuff indeed. Everybody should migrate to IBM, very soon POWER8 is coming. It will be 123% faster than HP Itanium, clock for clock, per core!

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Itanium dead, huzzah!

    The Power 795 is the best server on the market. You need to have a massive environment though. I think the heavy hitter for most people will be the new Power 750 (four socket) with the 7+ chip. It is outstanding and the new costs are difficult to beat.

  29. tom 99
    FAIL

    Re: Itanium dead, huzzah!

    > We have replaced 1.500 HP servers with one single IBM P795 servers.

    Could be. But I'm sure you are aware, the 795 has a limit of 1000 logical partitions?

    > These 64 cpu monsters gives us more performance for a fraction of the price.

    IBM p795 has a maximum of 32 CPUs.

  30. Mad Mike

    Re: Itanium dead, huzzah!

    Whilst I'm not saying the last post was correct, you should not the following.

    "Could be. But I'm sure you are aware, the 795 has a limit of 1000 logical partitions?"

    IBM have just lowered the minimum processor entitlement per VP to 0.05. This would theoretically allow 20 partitions per processor (max 20 x 256), although officially they've left the number at 1000. I have to admit though, that anyone attempting to run that many partitions will hit lots of inefficiencies as no virtualisation technology could give that kind of consolidation ratio per core.

    "IBM p795 has a maximum of 32 CPUs."

    32 CPUs yes. However, that's 256 cores and therefore 256 processors in IBM speak. The 0.05 entitlement per VP is efvectively per processors, hence the 256*20. But yes, the limit is officially still 1000.

  31. Matt Bryant Silver badge
    WTF?

    Re: Itanium dead, huzzah!

    Are you posting from the Home For Burnt-Out IBM Matkeing Drones? Specifically from the ward dealing with those that fell victim to serious heroin abuse?

  32. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Itanium met it's goals I think.

    "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."

    It didn't. I spoke with someone locally who was using PA-RISCs. They got a Itanium, and the Superdome they had ***SPANKED*** it. After a good year or so, the compiler improved enough so the Itanium was at least competitive. They basically got one, got all ready to return it, and ended up getting it for almost nothing so whoever at the company could show a successful Itanium sale.

    Anyway... I think the Itanium met it's goal for Intel. It seems to me the goal was largely to get more vendors buying from Intel instead of using their own chips. In terms of UNIX systems? MIPS -- gone. PA-RISC -- gone. Alpha -- Gone. Sun didn't abandon SPARC, but got sidetracked enough to delay the SPARC by quite a while. IBM seems to be the only one who was unaffected and still making POWER systems for those who want them. Don't get me wrong, some of these chips were "on the ropes" anyway, but I think Intel may have more than made up for the huge cash investments into Itanium in additional Xeon sales.

  33. Mad Mike

    Prior knowledge

    Me thinks Matt Bryant had prior knowledge of the demise of Itanium and this announcement.

    Good job he didn't take my bet, even if the reasons he gave were false and hid his knowledge he'd loose.

  34. Matt Bryant Silver badge
    FAIL

    Re: Prior knowledge

    "....the demise of Itanium...." See, once again you are confusing reality with your spoonfed fantasies. The announcement is of a slip, not a cancellation. Go get yourself signed up for remedial reading, you're embarrassing the rest of the trolls.

    ".....Good job he didn't take my bet....." If I wanted a sure bet it would be on you exposing your stupidity with every post you make.

  35. fork23
    Devil

    Re: Prior knowledge

    I couldn't let the last post to be from Matt.. it isn't fair.. he appears to be so anti-IBM.. and IBM really tried hard to embrace Itanium:

    "As part of Project Monterey, IBM released a beta test version of AIX 5L for the IA-64 (Itanium) architecture in 2001, but this never became an official product due to lack of interest." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_AIX)

  36. Matt Bryant Silver badge
    Happy

    Re: fork23 Re: Prior knowledge

    "....and IBM really tried hard to embrace Itanium....." The really fun bit about IBM's Itanium "support" was how hard they tried NOT to sell it! Their salesgrunts never offered the X450 series Itanium servers, they had to be badgered into selling you one. IBM's standard sales patter was to ignore the customer's requirements and suggest a mainframe, if that failed suggest an Power-based AIX server, and if that failed then offer a Xeon server. Then just keep dropping the prices on those three until the customer bit or the opposing vendor pulled out of the deal. But IBM still managed to sell over 10,000 X450 series servers to IBM customers that found the Itanium server was a better solution to their requirements than mainframe, Power-AIX or Xeon, despite IBM trying their best to convince them otherwise.

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