[Beowulf] [kstaats at terrasoftsolutions.com: Re: Intel? --points of view]

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Thu Jun 9 02:44:21 PDT 2005

----- Forwarded message from Kai Staats <kstaats at terrasoftsolutions.com> -----

From: Kai Staats <kstaats at terrasoftsolutions.com>
Date: Thu, 9 Jun 2005 00:04:40 -0600
To: scitech at lists.apple.com
Subject: Re: Intel? --points of view
Organization: Terra Soft Solutions, Inc.
User-Agent: KMail/1.7
Reply-To: kstaats at terrasoftsolutions.com


A few quick responses to key points that I feel need addressing.

> makes me believe that I should switch everything I have now over to
> linux (YDL, FC, Gentoo-PPC). ?I feel betrayed.

Many of us do. Nothing wrong in stating this. Apple has built an incredible 
religious following, both with the OS and architecture. One of my employees 
wrote in to our team list and declared he was 'going to be drinking the rest 
of the day', don't bother trying to get ahold of him :)

The Power Architecture family encompasses POWER, 970, and Cell. The 970 
already exists in a deskside tower and 1U rackmount (outside of Apple's 
product line). Some immediately available, some in motion to be soon 
delivered, some on the drawing boards. But by the time your current systems 
are ready for replacement, you'll have options.

> QuickDraw3D. On the other hand, how would we feel in 2-3 years if we
> were still stuck at 2.8GHZ desktops and Powerbooks with less than
> 2GHZ dual core G4s while the rest of the world past us by.

The 970 is immediately capable of being implemented in a laptop (the 
power/performance curve drops off quickly), but of course at a slower clock 
speed than the desktops. The market perception of clock speed has most likely 
kept the 970 from laptops thus far.

> I'm not sure what the future Macs will hold in terms of performance 
> but I imagine there must have been a compelling case to switch. (I 
> assume the company is not a theocracy with Jobs as the chief deity.) 
> But IBM's delivery of PPC-970s can truly be seen as a failure and the 
> reliance on them is really poor, especially in the laptop market. And 
> given the market presence, I can imagine IBM not really caring to 
> invest the resources needed to do what needs to be done.

Most everyone is looking at what IBM supposedly did _to_ Apple and how Apple 
responded. Is it possible that this is really about what Intel _offered_ 
Apple and what Apple did to IBM? What color of money would drive you to 
knowing kill your own hardware sales for a year in order to make this switch? 
Think about it ....

> out there. The only good thing is that the power is low. Power5 is ?
> great but its expensive and hot. Who else uses the 970 or its ?
> successors?

The Power Architecture has an enormous installed base (mostly DOD at this 
point) with 970 growing. Cell is taking hold rapidly (faster than 970 did) 
with OEMs and holds an incredible potential (more below).

> Of course not. That's just marketing-bs. I've heard more specific
> data about 220GFLOPS per Cell as well, and I don't know what to
> believe to be frank. Sure, they're more specialized processors than
> the G5 et. al. so that would allow them to crank out some extra speed.

Not impossible: 220GF / 8 SPEs = ~27GF per SPE. Not unlike the current, single 
core 970. I viewed a Cell proto at POWER.org this week (in a BladeCenter 
form-factor) running Fedora3. Relatively non-invasive kernel patch. A thin 
SPE MPI implementation already exists. 8 "nodes" on a single chip. It's real.

> And if they did deliver, what happens after 970MP with IBM focusing
> all of its engineering, marketing, and internal processes almost
> exclusively on the needs of servers and game consoles?

The 10 o'clock news showcases the murders each night in a given city. But if 
they showcased all the births or weddings, it would be a 3 hour program. Just 
because the news reports what IBM is supposedly not doing, from one point of 
view, does not mean this is the whole story.

Understand that I love/hate Apple as much as anyone, but keeping a slight 
distance from the whole thing is important. The picture is clearer a few 
steps back.

> I guess this is the way things go for people on the fringe. PowerPC970 was
> almost too good to be true (except for the memory controllers) - combining
> a 64-bit architecture and user-friendly GUI with a platform that actually
> competes with high-end clusters.

970 is _not_ dead. Not by a long-shot. IBM has a large investment in this 
technology and is moving ahead with its own products and those of OEMs (see 
previous mention of this).

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