[Beowulf] [gregory.brittelle at kirtland.af.mil: Re: Intel?]

Franz Marini franz.marini at mi.infn.it
Thu Jun 9 02:50:18 PDT 2005

On Thu, 2005-06-09 at 03:25, Robert G. Brown wrote:
> I think it is safer to rant less and refer to the present more -- at the
> MOMENT I think that AMD has an obviously superior HPC architecture, both
> multicore and otherwise.  

Wait, whereas it's (probably) true that AMD has a superior HPC
architecture right now, it is even more true that Apple's target market
ain't HPC, for the most part. And, given their target market(s) and
their experience with IBM (sub-par) ability to provide them with lots of
cpus at low prices and high speeds (do you remember Apple's statement
some two years ago about reaching 3 GHz with G5s ina  coupel of years
?), and AMD (proved) inferior ability to deliver quantity relative to
Intel, Apple's move to Intel makes quite some sense.

And you have not to forget the fact that right now Apple is biting dust
with their Powerbooks. Intel has got a clear edge here over AMD with
their P-M (which, btw, it looks like will be the future for Intel's x86
processors). And P-M will move, soon, to the desktop, too. Intel only
needs to add SSE2/SSE3, maybe HT, a faster bus and definetely dual cores
to their P-M line and they've got a killer cpu. Faster than most x86 out
there, and drawing a lot less current...

> When they're both running the same CPU at the same
> speeds, when one can get a Dell with linux or windows or an Apple with
> MacOS (both basically unix plus a windowing system) and the hardware --
> especially that all-important "CPU clock" is basically the same -- how
> can Apple charge that premium that pays the rent on a warehouse sized
> store in the hottest shopping center around?

Support, a better OS (compared to Windows), a way better and much more
consistant windowing system (compared to Linux). 

See, you have to consider Apple's target market. Most Mac users out
there are in the image/photography industry (well, maybe not most, but
quite a lot of them ;)). Macs have quite an edge there over anything
else. Not because of the hardware (in fact, they're lagging quite a bit
behind x86s in that compartment), but because of a superior OS/software

Just to give you a quick example, Linux is out of the equation when it
comes to graphic, simply because color management support is nil.
Windows' one is much better, but it's still much worse than OS/X's one
(for example, using a multi-monitor, calibrated and color managed setup
under windows is almost impossible, whereas it is a snap under OS/X). :)

So I think it all comes down to what is Apple's (perceived or real)

> For Apple the real
> challenge is to transition to some sort of sustainable model, hardware
> and/or software, before the remnants of their "branding" is spent and
> nobody cares anymore.
> Really interesting, actually.

It is, indeed. 

> As I understood it, Apple was still not being clear about whether or not
> they were going to do a CELL computer.  Does the latest announcement
> clarify that?  Are they going to ONLY Intel, or is CELL still a
> possibility?

Dunno know for sure, but I think they haven't completely excluded the
possibility of developing something around CELL. 

But, I right now foresee a problem (and not an Apple's one, but with
regard to all possible CELL uses), again with IBM's production capacity.
Right now IBM is committed to provide the CELL and a not-so-different
(as far as i can tell from the [little] docs available about the
xbox360) cpu for the future PS3 and XBOX360 consoles. We're talking
about (really) high numbers here. It looks like NVidia will be switching
to TMSC for their new gpu, because of limitations in the IBM fab that's
producing most of their chips right now, both from a technical and a
quantity point of view. 

All these things make me wonder if IBM will be effectively able to

Anyway, time will tell. 

Meanwhile, I'm looking forward to see IBM's presentation at LinuxTag
2005 of their CELL workstation with linux. It could shed some light on
the real capabilities of the CELL processor for general computing...


Franz Marini
Sys Admin and Software Analyst,
Dept. of Physics, University of Milan, Italy.
email : franz.marini at mi.infn.it
phone : +39 02 50317221

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