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Intel Upgrades Hardware

Intel Plans A Common Socket For Xeon, Itanium 157

Posted by timothy
from the common-ground dept.
stonedonkey writes "According to EE Times, Intel is planning a common system platform for the Xeon and Itanium by 2007, "creating a unified 64-bit motherboard with a new, one-size-fits-all socket." Intel's Jason Waxman says , "It has been something that customers have been asking us for for a while now...the reseller [currently] has to have an inventory of both boxes on hand." Feeling the heat from the competition, cutting losses, or just friendly customer service?"
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Intel Plans A Common Socket For Xeon, Itanium

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  • by halo1982 (679554) * on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @12:43AM (#9819355) Homepage Journal
    The Inquirer reported on something just like this [theinquirer.net] nearly a year ago. Of course this is actually confirmed with a date, but the Inq still has a bit more information.
  • by c0wan (790723) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @12:44AM (#9819359)
    You still can't stick an AMD in there.
    • and what if you could? Doesn't mean the pins would have the same function.

      It sure would be funny though to read about all the people who bought an Intel motherboard and plugged a AMD chip into it only for smoke to come out.
      • yeh I once did this many years ago, mistook an AMD Socket A mobo for an Intel 370 FZZZTT!!!
      • by shaitand (626655) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @01:23AM (#9819522) Journal
        Someone talking about how "many years ago" he mistook a socket A for a 370. Sheesh.

        I remember not so many years ago when intel and AMD processors really did use the same socket... I wish history would start repeating itself real soon, I'm sick of different sockets.
        • by NoodleSlayer (603762) <ryan@severeb[ ]dom.com ['ore' in gap]> on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @02:49AM (#9819749) Homepage
          If I remember correctly the reason why the Athlon and P4 have different sockets is because the two use radically different FSB technology, and between the Athlon 64 and P4 it would be nearly impossible.

          Moving to their own socket was perhaps one of the best decisions AMD made for the Athlon, it allowed them to create their own technology instead of having to follow Intel's lead as far as motherboard design goes.

          Of course to top it all off Intel claims that all of its bus technology is "proprietary", this is why nVidia hasn't made an nForce chipset for the P4 yet. AMD on the other hand has a much more open policy and actively encourages 3rd party motherboard and chipset makers. A policy which has worked very well for AMD to date.
          • by MojoStan (776183)

            Of course to top it all off Intel claims that all of its bus technology is "proprietary", this is why nVidia hasn't made an nForce chipset for the P4 yet. AMD on the other hand has a much more open policy and actively encourages 3rd party motherboard and chipset makers. A policy which has worked very well for AMD to date.

            Intel's NetBurst bus may be proprietary, but I don't think that's the reason NVIDIA hasn't made a chipset yet for the Pentium 4. Intel has licensed the bus to other 3rd party chipset ma

            • VIA has had several lawsuits going with Intel over their P4 chipsets. VIA says it has a license from when it bought S3 (the video card company) and Intel says, no, hence the lawsuits. Also, Intel used to make most of its own motherboards and chipsets up until the PIII when they started licensing. The Taiwanese chewed them up on chipset and motherboard business and generally ignored the scope and letter of the licensing agreements. When Intel went with the P4, they really clamped down on the license.
            • The answer is simple: When you make a Pentium 4 chipset, you pay $4/unit to Intel. NVIDIA doesn't want to pay the licensing fee.
        • Yeah, no shit.. it seems like yesterday I ordered my Socket 7 AMD K6, even though that was six years ago.
    • by dpilot (134227) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @07:16AM (#9820512) Homepage Journal
      (sorry to add a serious comment to a joke)

      The sockets diverged back in the days of Slot1. Intel didn't want to compete on the socket level, like back in the Socket7 days, so they tied things up in patents and such. That's what drove AMD to the SlotA, which they got from Alpha. Theoretically you could have motherboards into which you could put either a K7 or an Alpha, by changing the BIOS.

      Actually, that same trick seems to be what Intel is trying to pull, here. But what seems and what is may be two different things. With today's market positioning, Xeon and Itanium are sold into different markets, and those markets would drive radically different types of boards.

      So we have four possibilities:
      1: Intel is trying to enable Itanium to creep downward into the Xeon market.
      2: Intel is trying to enable Xeon to creep upward into the Itanium market.
      3: Intel is confused, and trying to hedge their bets.
      4: Beancounter have gained some ascendancy over the marketdroids, and have gotten fed up with the costs of 'socket differentiation.'
      • You are spot on with your analysis. I think the answer must be option 1 though. 2 can be ruled out because the Itanium has an insignificant market. 3 is a tautology for all enormous tech companies. And 4 is impossible :)

        The reason Intel thinks they can use Xeon as a trojan horse for Itanic is Nocona, Intel's X86-64 clone of AMD's Opteron processor. Nocona will satisfy a lot of customers that are impressed by the promise of 64-bit computing but are too chickenshit to go with an AMD product. Once these
      • Theoretically you could have motherboards into which you could put either a K7 or an Alpha, by changing the BIOS.

        I was under the impression the sockets were electrically compatible but not physically compatible - ie it would take more than a BIOS change to make it work.

        So we have four possibilities:
        1: Intel is trying to enable Itanium to creep downward into the Xeon market.
        2: Intel is trying to enable Xeon to creep upward into the Itanium market.
        3: Intel is confused, and trying to hedge their bets.
        4: Be
  • planning != doing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chrispyman (710460) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @12:45AM (#9819366)
    While it's nice to know that they're planning on doing something that will take away a few more headaches, whose to say that this will ever get out the door and to the consumers?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @12:48AM (#9819377)
      This is exactly why I support AMD instead of Intel on all of my purchases. Atleast AMD has a good idea of what they are going to be doing a few years from now. It seems like Intel doesn't and they change their minds too much, against the wishes of their customers.
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Hammer will be released next year!
        (year passes) Hammer will be released next year!
        (year passes) Hammer will be released next year!
        • Wasn't IA64 supposed to have completely replaced x86 years ago?

          Every year for nearly a decade those plans got later and smaller in scope.

          IA64 for so long (and might still be in cynics eyes) was (is?) the biggest vapourware around.
      • by eofpi (743493)
        If you mean something along the lines of this, you're right:

        AMD: We're still going to be trying to get more than 20% market share.
        Intel: Um...trying to get further into the server market, and keeping ahead of AMD?
        Win: AMD.

        But if you mean in terms of sticking to their own previously announced plans for the next year, no. AMD's been playing the socket shuffle for a couple years now with sockets 754, 940, and 939. They've also decided to introduce 32-bit-only bargain CPUs (codenamed Sempron), after announc
        • Win: Intel.

          If you consider having less performance for most apps, no 64 bit x86 yet, and higher power consumption "winning". I don't. Intel's rush to copy everything AMD has done over the last couple of years shows where things really are.

          The socket shuffle is no big deal, since by the time you want to upgrade your CPU you most likely will want a new motherboard too for new memory or other technologies. Motherboards aren't all that expensive regardless...

          • Re:planning != doing (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Donny Smith (567043)
            >The socket shuffle is no big deal, since by the time you want to upgrade your CPU you most likely will want a new motherboard too for new memory or other technologies. Motherboards aren't all that expensive regardless...

            It is a big deal - one will be able to upgrade a Xeon system to Itanium with minimum effort.
            Of course, the OS and the apps will have to be re-installed, but the box itself won't require rewiring and rack-mounting.
            In data center environment the mobo itself doesn't contribute to performan
            • It is a big deal - one will be able to upgrade a Xeon system to Itanium with minimum effort.
              Of course, the OS and the apps will have to be re-installed, but the box itself won't require rewiring and rack-mounting.
              In data center environment the mobo itself doesn't contribute to performance a lot, but the key is in lowering the TCO, so it will matter.
              And as the article said, having interchangeable mobos will make every Intel Xeon reseller also an Intel Itanium reseller at no extra cost.


              Are you kidding? For
              • No what I see this allowing is increasing the market for itanium motherboards. At present very few people are building Itanium motherboards, now if Itanium and Xeon share the same motherboards then it will it will be more attractive to mb makers to build Xeon/Itanium motherboards.

                I don't think swapping the CPU's in motherboards ever was or is much of an option for servers (or workstations for that matter). Typically by the time you need a performance boost (same 18 months) then the technology in the CPUs h
              • My thinking wasn't in that direction - more like yearly CPU upgrades until the box can be retired.
                That's would be useful for commercial applications where licensing is per-processor based - Oracle and such. One reboot and you've got a 50% faster CPU...
      • Atleast AMD has a good idea of what they are going to be doing a few years from now.

        Really? Can you point me towards those official public AMD roadmaps detailing their platform infrastructure in 2007?

        Give me a break.
        • Really? Can you point me towards those official public AMD roadmaps detailing their platform infrastructure in 2007?

          Since when have Intels announced plans that far out ever matched reality?

          How long ago were they saying that there would be no 64 bit x86 from them?

          How long ago were they saying RAMBUS was the future?

          How long ago were they saying that IA64 would be the mainstream architecture by now?
  • by Linus Sixpack (709619) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @12:47AM (#9819372) Journal
    I imagine Intel wants a polite way to keep the Itanium on the books for very special applications and to save face. Zeon will, at least in the near future, be the processor of choice and a common socket will keep it from eclipsing the Itanic.

    There might even be a chance that the market will change enough to want the Itanic, but not if they have to maintain specialized hardware for a currently very niche market.

    LS
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @12:57AM (#9819418)
      Disagree -- this helps Itanium much more than it helps Xeon.

      Most current Itanium use is for larger systems, which is already entirely specialized hardware. Common mobos allow Itanium tomove "down market" into small servers and workstations by opening the whole range of mainstream chipsets at no additional cost.

      I'm assuming these systems will use Intel's new platform-independant firmware.
      • Nobody uses it, nobody wants it, few people have ever even seen one. The industry desire to support it just ain't there. It is gonna die. I know a lot of folks who still run OpenVMS systems on the dead Alpha platform, who are scrambling to replace these long running. stable and reliable VMS systems with completely something else.

        There exists a perception is that HP is trying to artificially create some use for the Itanium to justify all the work they invested in it with Intel, by making it the next generat
        • by paitre (32242)
          More a personal question than something really germaine to the whole thread, but - what industry are you talking about? Most of the VMS installations that I know about are either academic (and -are- being replaced with Linux boxes - not exclusively, but we can't have everything) or financial. There's plenty of copy on financial institutions running evaluation programs for linux systems and outright "we're doing it" situations, too.

          That all said - support is king. If you can't 1. get the solution desired in
    • by Jason Earl (1894) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @01:03AM (#9819440) Homepage Journal

      Exactly. This is all about making it easier for Intel to sell Itanium servers. Intel doesn't want to go through the expense of designing and QAing separate Itanium motherboards for the five or six people that actually want Itanium. If the Xeon and Itanium share the same motherboard then OEMs can stock one motherboard and "upgrade" customers to Itanium if that's what they want.

      If AMD wasn't serious competition with their AMD64 chips then Intel wouldn't even release 64 bit Xeons, but as things stand they don't have much of a choice.

    • That's the way I read it, Itanic is a lame duck and Intel is simply trying to save as much face as possible.

      John

    • by sirsnork (530512) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @01:34AM (#9819554)
      Both Xeon and Itanium suffer the same woes, this gives them a good chance to correct both at the same time, although it will take a massive engineering effort on their part.

      Intel are going to have to drop their shared bus architecture and move to a point to point system like AMD or memory performance will suffer greatly, otherwise you can only run your memory at your FSB speed and adding more procs just means they all get less mem bandwidth. This is going to become more pronounced with the introduction of Dual Core CPU's. Also since Xeons are build on the core of the desktop CPU's they will also have to change to follow suit (assuming Intel are going to move to a P2P architecture). At that time one would assume we would be talking about the P5 and one would also have to assume Intel would move the memory controllers onto the CPU's like AMD have.

      That is quite a lot of work for Intel to do when they are also talking about dual cores. It's a lot of tech to get right all at the same time, especially given the delays involved with the Nocona launch and the associated motherboards. Itwould give them some rather nice options though, rather than using Hypertransport they could use PCI-E to join CPU's and have controllers on the CPU like the Opterons. Also because the CPU's are joined with a serial bus you can move them onto riser cards and make the most of the real estate in the chassis meaning you should be able to pack more CPU's in a smaller space.

      The thing here though is that at some level the CPU's need to talk the same language, at least for initialisation at boot, although we are presuambly talking about 2 completly new cores so ever that is within the realm of possibility.
      • The thing here though is that at some level the CPU's need to talk the same language, at least for initialisation at boot, although we are presuambly talking about 2 completly new cores so ever that is within the realm of possibility.

        Whats stopping them putting 2 BIOSes onto the motherboard and then just switching between them depending which CPU you have in the box?
  • by J_Omega (709711) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @12:47AM (#9819374)
    Feeling the heat from the competition, cutting losses, or just friendly customer service?


    d) all of the above.
    • (I agree with you, BTW).

      If it's the best thing for the user, I don't really care why Intel does it, it's astill a good thing. If it's not the best thing for the user, I don't care why Intel is doing it, it's bad regardless of the motive.

      So, the real question is, does it matter? I'm seeing good arguments on both sides.

      [OTOH, I prefer AMD, anyway. Faster, less power, don't need a helicopter for a fan. more open...]
  • by GFLPraxis (745118) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @12:55AM (#9819403) Homepage Journal
    At the rate Intel is keeping pace, by the time they get a 64-bit processor out with a unified socket, we'll be running Athlon 128's and dual dual core PowerMac G6's (also 128-bit)...sigh...

    Get with the pace, Intel, and get a consumer 64-bit processor out! That way we get your P4's for cheap :D
    • "That way we get your P4's for cheap"

      Why? you can get a superior athlon chip now ;)
    • Seriously - why would you want 128 bit addressing. Modern CPUs are already "128 bits" or more wide in many of the ways that count, such as SIMD registers and instructions. I'm not sure how many applications are working with data that would benefit from 128 bit wide integers and floats, but I'm going to make a guess at "not many."

      The move to 64 bit addressing is being done mostly because we've run out of room on the 32 bit address space. I'm not dumb enough to say that we'll never run out of the 64 bit addr
      • Well, with 128-bit addressing you could address something like 2 billion cubic metres of carbon atoms individually. I guess we won't reach this any time soon, probably not for at least a few hundred years ;)
      • There are many uses for a really large virtual address space. You can create common address spaces for large collections of computers and large computer networks. You can assign addresses to objects that are guaranteed to be globally unique. You can guarantee that an object's address will never be reused. You can memory map very large databases. You can move to a single-level unified address space for RAM and permanent storage.
        • Large virtual address spaces are nice (I'm already doing things that require more than 32-bits of address space, and I'm only peripherably involved with HPC), but 64-bit is going to be big enough for a very long time. Even if we had a completely shared address space, then 64-bits is enough to give every single person in the world over 4GB of address space. In reality, it is much more useful to give each person (and each process that they run) its own address space. A unified address space for a single co
      • 128-bit addressing would allow you to pass four IEEE 32-bit floating point values simultaneously (enough to support 4x4 matrix/vector calculations), RGBA processing. This would boost the performance of 3D modelling/animation/CAD/image-processing applications.

        The argument against this is that such processing is better done on dedicated hardware such as a GPU, rather than on an input-processing CPU. But I'm sure developers would find a way of load-balancing between the different processors.
        • To a fair extent you can already do that. The processor bus width is independent of the address space width, and the SIMD units in modern processors are used for this sort of job.

          I find the arguments of another poster here about cluster-wide shared address spaces etc much more interesting, though. I'm sure the crazy folks behind Plan 9 would have fun with the idea of a single global memory address space...
      • I haven't done any benchmarks, but I would imagine that SSE instructions take considerably more cycles to complete than x86.

        And the Athlon 64 has 40-bit physical addressing and 48-bit virtual addressing, IIRC.

        And as for what applications could benefit from 128-bit registers, I would imagine that anything using RC5 would be speeded up (even though it is already extremely fast). There would be others too, but I haven't written any others that I know of.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @01:02AM (#9819437)
    Something like this adds to the complexity of the system board. The odds are good that you'd only want to do this if the sales of one type of system were so poor, you'd prefer the increased complexity so you can gain increased economies of scale.

    Eg: how does a system bootstrap itself from power on to the point where the OS is loaded? That's the job of the code in the BIOS (or OpenBoot, or equivalent). Do you believe that x86-32 BIOS code is going to work to get an Itanium CPU loading the OS? The only way you'll get a generic BIOS to work is if there's an opcode that will allow a jump to a given address in one CPU, whilst just incrementing the instruction pointer on the other.

    Look at Athlon. The Athlon bus was designed so that you could, in theory, plug an Alpha into an Athlon board. How many boards were made available to do this? Zip (that I know of, anyway.)

    Intel are desperate to increase sales of Itanic (typo deliberate ;) -- they're hoping that by doing this, the economies of scale will make Itanic more appealing. Sorry, Intel; I'd say that this is the beginning of the end. Your fortunes were built on backwards compatibility, and it looks like that's now the millstone around your neck, dragging Itanium down.

    • Uhhhhhh... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Ayanami Rei (621112) * <`rayanami' `at' `gmail.com'> on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @01:32AM (#9819549) Journal
      Dude, Intel's got it's own OpenFirmware like doohickey already for the Itanium, it's called EFI.

      Anyway, it's really simple. The processors will assert different "core-type" lines, which will control which ROM is memory-mapped to the default EIP pointer at boot time. I mean, Intel processors already signal their allowed clocking speeds by pins right now. Hell, they're probably different in x86-32 and Itanium, so they could both "be active" all the time, jumping to the appropriate memory-mapped physical address (both of which would be mapped at power-on to their own ROMs) and there'd be no need for an option line.
      • The processors will assert different "core-type" lines, which will control which ROM is memory-mapped to the default EIP pointer at boot time.

        Close. It would not make sense to have two or more ROM chips on the motherboard to support different architectures. So, what you do is take 1-3 lines from the processor or jumpers and connect them to the high order address lines on a larger capcity rom CHIP. 1 Line gives you two different architectures. 3 lines gives you 8 archs if you could ever get tha

    • by NerveGas (168686) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @01:34AM (#9819550)
      It's not admitting defeat, it's getting rid of something that hasn't made much sense.

      The Xeon line has traditionally been both the more lucrative and the more "stable" line, on the idea that businesses wanted long-term stability. When you bought a Xeon motherboard, you knew that it would be compatible with some of the upcoming Xeons in FSB and slot, and with a VRM module, even for different voltages.

      A very large side-effect is that the Xeon line was tied to slower FSB/memory rates, and a lot more expensive. In reality, most people don't upgrade their Xeon chips - they move to a new architecture (P2->P3->P4, etc.)

      Looking at the P2/P3 Xeons, it was long after the shift to a 133MHz FSB when the Xeons played catch-up. And it's just now that the P4 Xeons are getting away from the 533MHz FSB.

      So, they're taking their most expensive, most lucrative processers, and hindering the performance. While it worked while Intel was the 800-pound gorilla (and you had no other choice in 2-way, let alone 4-way machines), that's no longer the case. There's competition in the market - good competition. It was a real kick in the pants to shell out $5000 to $15,000 on Xeon systems that had a slower FSB than the $500 desktop counterparts!

      So, now, they're going to have to do the sensible thing: Start giving actual performance in exchange for customer money. Rather than have the "high-end bus" and the "low-end" or "mid-range" bus, it makes a lot of sense to just have all of them use one bus design - theoretically, a fast bus.

      The Athlon bus was designed so that you could, in theory, plug an Alpha into an Athlon board

      I really don't think that was the idea. AMD was looking for a front-side bus design, and Intel's wasn't an option. The Alpha design was available for the right price, and so it was used.

      Do you believe that x86-32 BIOS code is going to work to get an Itanium CPU

      I believe that Intel has already stated that they want to make some radical changes to the way the BIOS works.

      Sorry, Intel; I'd say that this is the beginning of the end.

      Unless they're able to really shift direction, I'd agree.

      steve
      • I believe that Intel has already stated that they want to make some radical changes to the way the BIOS works.

        They are ditching the BIOS in favor of EFI [intel.com].
      • Yeah, that's right. What is necessary for the server market is to have the fastest and best specs in every department. Bus speed, processor speed, cache size, the lot. Servers are just like workstations and gaming PCs, after all.

        Heat? Component cost? Stability? Never mind. What's important for OLTP and web servers is to have each processor running on the very fastest memory bus in the world.

        Coming soon to slashdot: Doom 3 FPS benchmarks for 2U rackmount servers...

    • Well, I can't say you surprised me with that posting. I've come to expect this sort of post these days.

      If slashdotters like you were to be believed, by now Linux would have 96% of the desktop market, and Intel would be a burger stand somewhere out in the mojave desert. Intel aren't scared of AMD, and Linux isn't going to storm the desktop this year. Or next. Or the year after.

      Of course, I'm sure some insightful moderator will stick his oar in and mod me down instead of discussing this point, but again

  • by OnanTheBarbarian (245959) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @01:05AM (#9819460)
    First, the lead-in on Slashdot is silly. Intel has been planning this for a while. Yes, it is good customer service. They're not "cutting their losses" and this move makes sense even if AMD were to fold up tomorrow.

    It's just simply too expensive to develop two different motherboard sets when you could leverage the increasingly similar characteristics of high-end Xeon motherboards and Itanium motherboards.

    Also silly is the end of the article suggesting that Itanium will take over the world any time in the reasonably distant future. This is a strawman will no doubt ignite a frenzy of Itanium hating from various people (yes, we've all heard it before, Itanium is dead, Linus hates it, etc.). Besides, it doesn't reflect Intel's current clearly stated strategy, which indicates that we'll have both architectures for a very long time.
  • None of the above (Score:3, Informative)

    by aka-ed (459608) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `cilbup.tbor'> on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @01:14AM (#9819488) Homepage Journal
    Feeling the heat from the competition, cutting losses, or just friendly customer service?"

    I'd say, gearing down to a commodotized market.

  • by NerveGas (168686) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @01:18AM (#9819504)

    With Opterons coming in much less expensive than the Itaniums, moving to a common socket with the Xeons isn't going to help much.

    On the other hand, with Opterons offering far better scalability and performance than Xeons, moving to a common socket with Itaniums isn't going to help out much.

    Even on 2-way machines, Opterons show much better scalability than Xeons. As the number of CPUs increase, the Opteron architecture (when coupled with a supporting OS) allows it to shine more and more. With 8-way Opterons coming out fairly soon, Intel needs to come up with something fast - they're losing one of their most lucrative markets to AMD.

    steve
    • But if I were Intel and I saw that other offerings scale better, and if I knew that the main problem is the shared CPU bus architecture and the limited memory bandwith, I would consider designing a new CPU bus.

      And if I have two processor lines for multi processor systems, I would think about upgrading both CPU bus architectures, if both suffer the same problem. And then I would be thinking: Hey! I have to design a new bus system anyway, and I have two processor lines to serve, why not make this bus system
  • When will we see the return of common sockets on the desktop and server for both intel and amd processors? I'm starting to get annoyed with having to pay attention.
  • by shizzle (686334) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @01:22AM (#9819518)
    I think this is a sign of Intel cutting its losses... this will certainly save money, but at the cost of being able to differentiate Itanium platforms from Xeon platforms. One of the real distinctions between a high-end platform and a run-of-the-mill machine is memory bandwidth; if both types of chips plug into the same socket, they're going to have access to the same bandwidth, and Itanium will lose one of its few remaining advantages over Xeon.

    Intel would only do this if saving money was more important to them than giving people a credible reason to buy Itaniums instead of Xeons... and I do believe that's the situation at this point in time. Not a good sign for the future of Itanium.

  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @01:41AM (#9819572) Homepage
    Sounds more like "If we don't do this, nobody will make Inanium motherboards". Now that Intel has cloned AMD's 64-bit architecture, I'm surprised they're still pushing the Inanium at all.

    Actually, the real question is how much longer Microsoft will support the Itanium. Remember when NT supported MIPS, Alpha, PowerPC, and x86? Actually, Microsoft only supports the Itanium in a very limited way. The OS, and a few server side apps, run native. But that's it. The desktop apps all run in emulation, as far as I can find out.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    If it were up to intel, we would all be using 120W processors that don't do shit... Intel did this for 1 of 2 reasons.

    1. resellers were getting extremely pissed
    2. they could save engineering, production, maintenance costs.

    In general businesses try to "segment" their market, and when you vertically own the market, it is in your best interest to "make" everything, including different socket types.

    Fuck Intel, they are feeling the heat because the P4 is turning out to be a piece of shit and the Opteron is ki
    • In general businesses try to "segment" their market, and when you vertically own the market, it is in your best interest to "make" everything, including different socket types

      The problem has been that in the high-dollar area (Xeons), they've been sticking the consumer with slower busses than the desktop line. Until recently, when there was no other option in the price range, people just sucked it up and dealt with it. Now that there is good competition, that's going to have to change. This is probab
      • You make that sound like intel uses slower busses on Xeon setups just to fool their customers. I don't think that's the case at all. If you have only one cpu, it is much easier to increase the bus frequency, as it only needs to connect 2 chips (northbridge & cpu), trace length is quite short. But with 2 cpus (Xeon DP), you now have 3 chips to connect to the same bus. Not only are the traces going to be longer, but there is also more load on the bus. For quad setups, it's even a lot worse - 5 chips to co
  • by carlmenezes (204187) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @01:55AM (#9819615) Homepage
    AMD has lots of processors that do both 32-bit and 64-bit. Problem is the number of different sockets out there. This means you need to change your motherboard everytime you switch from one socket to another - big expense and something that makes u think a lot about which socket u want.

    Intel says...use our 64-bit procs and you won't need to change the socket. This is a marketing thing. I don't think there will be much of a performance difference if the socket is changed. But it makes things more convenient for the customer.

    Now, if AMD had done this...they would have grabbed market share. It might still not be too late to unify the sockets...but then it looks like it will be more difficult for AMD given the differences in the processors available across their entire range.
    • > Now, if AMD had done this...they would have grabbed market share. It
      > might still not be too late to unify the sockets...but then it looks
      > like it will be more difficult for AMD given the differences in the
      > processors available across their entire range.

      AMD can't do that. They need the different sockets for now.

      The Socket 754 is for the Athlon64. It is designed for folks like myself who want to get an early jump on x86_64 but can't justify the major coin for the socket 940 stuff. Since
    • by Tim C (15259) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @03:17AM (#9819805)
      This means you need to change your motherboard everytime you switch from one socket to another - big expense and something that makes u think a lot about which socket u want.

      Well, I've had a PC for about 8 years now, and have upgraded a number of times. I don't recall ever keeping the same motherboard when buying a new processor.

      True, I imagine that if you buy them regularly, then you may well "reuse" a motherboard once or twice. But personally, by the time I need/can afford to upgrade, a new motherboard is a requirement if I want to obtain a decent performance increase. My old one simply won't support the newer chips.

      So, for people who do go to the trouble and expense of incremental upgrades, yes, I can see that not having to buy a new motherboard may be a factor. But I think probably the majority of people leave it long enough between upgrades that keeping the same one simply isn't an option. YM, of course, MV.
      • I just bought a new computer, and AMD's offerings confused the hell out of me. I'm a computer geek, but I'd been tinkering with Linux for a few years, and hadn't paid attention to new hardware. When I looked at new hardware this week, I found AMD had spawned half a dozen chips and at least three sockets. It was bad enough that you had to search for the best Intel CPU/Motherboard set and compare it with the best AMD combo, now you have to see which socket's best price/performance ratio suits you.

        While this
        • Keep in mind that AMD64 is in transition between sockets, things will probably get simpler soon.

          Basically, you need to pick a processor first (after all, that is what will set the basic system price), then pick your MB to go along with it.

          In any case - I agree with the other poster that I've never simply upgraded just the CPU. If I'm going to double my CPU speed, why would I want two-generation-old RAM and an ancient chipset in the system? That facny new CPU will be doing wait states from now until Chri
    • They already are unifying - see socket 939
  • the reseller has to have an inventory of both boxes on hand.

    No they don't. But now they will.

  • Not that slaping together server hardware is that dificult (and I really don't know much about hardware design) but, wouldn't you want boards that are optimized for use with either Xeon OR Itanium? Wouldn't creating compatability on this hardware reduce its performance? Or is this a non-issue?
    • by Graelin (309958) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @02:43AM (#9819741)
      Not that slaping together server hardware is that dificult

      It's not as easy as you might think. Maybe the dual proc you set up for the small biz you work for was simple, and it is, but that really doesn't qualify as a server anywhere near the league of an Itanium. Even high-end Dell machines go through a lot of QA to ensure the hardware and it's drivers play nice together. When you're talking about a $100,000+ machine with major support contracts and liabliity concerns - "slaping together server hardware" really isn't.

      wouldn't you want boards that are optimized for use with either Xeon OR Itanium?

      In this order, I want:
      1) Stability
      2) Performance

      I don't care if the board is optimized for the Apple II. If it runs Itanium with equal or higher stability and equal or higher performance of the next best thing - I'll buy it.

      Wouldn't creating compatability on this hardware reduce its performance? Or is this a non-issue?

      Well, it's too soon to tell since nobody has one of these boards. And this is only a "plan" so it still may never happen. But I suspect the answer is "not necessarily."

      If you can do tricks like this [slashdot.org], then I would think there is hope you could create a board like this and not suffer any performance problems. (But I am not a chip designer so who the hell am I?)
  • Aren't those elements with one letter missing?

    Xenon, Titanium... hmmm...

    What next, the Intel Trontium? the Intel Kryton?
  • by zepi (784314) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @04:39AM (#9820010)
    P4 and Xeons are pretty much same stuff, right... Both are x86 compatible, both (in theory, not yet) run X86-64 extensions. Itanium is something very different, it runs IA64 instuctions which are very incompatible with x86-64.

    For me this looks like the last attempt to screw things up for AMD and x86-64 architecture in high-end workstations / servers.

    Let's assume that you are a pretty big boss in a normal company. Your company has decided to upgrade their High-End computers. You have basically two options:

    Either you recommend 100% Intel Hardware that runs current 32-bit stuff fine and is ready to be upgraded or is even compatible with IA-64 stuff. x86-64 compliance is hardly mentioned in specs. If there even is such compatibility. 64-bit thing is important for future. Not probably yet, but in future. (Xeon/Itanium mixed platform)

    or

    "50% Intel compatible" AMD platform which runs current 32-bit stuff very well, but the x86-64 instruction set is non-compatible with Intels High-End IA-64 infrastructure. So only partial Intel compatibility, sounds bad... Thats like 50% Intel incompatible... (A64 / Opteron platform)

    You are really going to have hard time convincing yourself and your even bigger bosses, that Non-Intel compatibility is good for your business. Mainly because Intel compatibility has been THE most important thing for last 15 years or so...

    Then Intel just starts it's advertising/lobbying campaings and hopes that this is enough to turn the tide for them...

    ps. if there are typos just blame the damn internet-cafe's german kezboard... somebody has swapped mz Z and Y.
    • P4 and Xeons are pretty much same stuff, right... Both are x86 compatible

      A Xeon is a P4 with extra cache. P4EE is just a repackaged Xeon.
    • x86 compatability is becoming increasingly irrelevant. Anything new for Windows is likely to run on .NET, and hence be CPU-agnostic, as long as you have a working .NET runtime on your platform. Anything for *NIX that's important comes with source code (either it's open source, or it's a custom solution, and you're paying enough already for it to support whatever platform you choose). As long as it's 64-bit safe (which any modern app should be) you'll be fine. The only reason for x86 compatibility is leg
  • Long ago, upgrading cpu with cpu upgrade kit from 386 to 486 and 486 to pentiums was quite a possible deal to boost an old machine up.

    In 1997 I bought an Intel(!) mobo with Slot1/celeron buggy cpu. As was advertised these days, I hoped I will buy much better cpu some 2-3 years later instead of whole machine, because in past 15 years, as a developer I was buing a new machine for personal desktop every 2 years.

    Unfortunately, no such upgrade was actually available, all "new" Intel processors were either comp
  • Intel has been in news recently with one story after another about how they missed most of their product launches this year. Today in fact the CEO sent a memo to the entire company telling them in short that they're a bunch of losers who have to work harder or there will be hell to pay.

    Maybe they really don't have a fucking clue at Intel and what they really don't need is yet another pointless product variation and instead they should focus on getting their stuff right.

    Intel is starting to look like a god
  • OT: Color Change (Score:3, Insightful)

    by scruffy (29773) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @08:39AM (#9821044)
    The color A69D78 makes headers and links nearly unreadable. Does anybody else feel the same?
  • by wandazulu (265281) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @08:42AM (#9821070)
    This sounds like Intel's Overdrive functionality that came on some 486 mbs...it had that extra socket that I *think* would take an early Pentium chip (or was it something special?) and would get you an effective speed boost without replacing your machine. I remember seeing a fair number of these mbs, but I don't remember if Intel even shipped anything to put in it.

    I wonder if it backfired on them at all, I know a friend of mine had a mb with it and by the time Pentiums were all the rage he still had this 486 mb with this extra space that was nothing but promises and hype. I think he ended up getting an AMD-based machine because he was so angry at Intel.
  • In other news... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ToLu the Happy Furby (63586) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @08:58AM (#9821218)
    The amount of abject ignorance on display in this thread is staggering, even for Slashdot. Just to hit a quick list of misconceptions and misanalysis:

    a) A unified Xeon/Itanium socket for Tukwila has been on Intel's official roadmap for at least a year now, and obviously has been in the works for much longer. This is not news and indeed Intel has been hyping the hell out of it for some time now.

    b) The point of this is not to somehow "retire" Itanium (what, by giving Itanium customers the option to "upgrade" to Xeon??) but to drive it into the mainstream by dramatically lowering platform costs. Intel claims Itanium will get 2x the performance on the same socket as Xeon in 2007. Obviously this will depend on the workload, but with Tukwila going against an dual-core MPU based on the ancient NetBurst core, it's not unlikely either. Of course the reason to stay x86 will be for binary compatability, but in many if not most server situations IA-32 EL on Tukwila should provide better x86 performance than the top end Xeon. The point of a unified socket is to phase out Xeon, not Itanium.

    Meanwhile, Slashdot has managed to miss today's announcement [yahoo.com] that the likely future fastest supercomputer in the world [realworldtech.com] will be running Linux. Seems like a slam dunk, right? Linux running the fastest single-image computer in the world? What's the catch? It's running on Itanium, of course.

    Must be tough trying to come up with a negative spin on that one. From the but-if-it-was-opteron-it-would-cost-$100,000-less dept., perhaps??
  • platform (Score:3, Insightful)

    by john_uy (187459) on Wednesday July 28, 2004 @10:59AM (#9822554)
    it is not just the the processor per se but the entire platform. intel has a very good platform for their itanium (sr870bn4 and sr870bh2.)


    we have a pair of them and it works wonders. the system is very good design that the entire system is very easy to service (swap everything from pci boards, memory boards, processors, management, etc.) and of course good in the reliability and stability side.


    the primary feature is reliability, manageability, and servicability. speed is secondary in these systems.


    for opterons, their processors are good but i am still doubting on the entire platform (but it is slowly fading away.) i coudn't just buy a server because it is fast without much consideration into servicability, stability and manageability of the system.


    by combining the xeon and itanium2 product lines, they will be able to increase these factors more. the resources will now be bigger to validate in the two configurations and design will be much simplified. for example, if an oem manufacturer creates an fc hba, testing will be much faster and better. there may be a separate software code base for the xeon and itanium2. i have seen lots of good plans from intel (though some are still plans but some of them are maturing and i can't say them due to nda.)


    in operating a datacenter, this will have huge benefits. if we will get spares, we will only get field replacable units (fru) for the server and we can practically interchange components with our system. this is cost saving but the greater advantage is allowing us to quickly place a server only due to faulty components as they are standardized. in the future, we can have a same server board and all components and spare cpus. aside from hardware efficiency, it will be better for management. the management system will not have to deal with different type of systems. faster fault detection and resolution without much overhead costs of purchasing all the enterprise products. and when deploying new applications, you can have your own internal validation for hardware and software knowing that you will have the same configuration throughout.


    by doing this, intel stands to create better platforms realizing from the strengths of both processor architecture. hopefully they will be able to deliver it and even better as planned.

    :)

    john


    and to amd's demise right now, Microsoft just delayed their release of Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP for x86-64 to mid 2005.


    craig barett also created a memo on improving on engineering efficiencies in intel. he doesn't like what's happening right now.

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