Itanium 2 - Performance and Implications Thereof

in General Discussion edited January 2014
I've read a series of posts recently concerning the Itanium 2 and its alleged superb performance. For those who aren't up to speed with the general subject, the Itanium is based on EPIC. I forget what the acronym stands for, but it has something to do with long, parallel instructions. EPIC strings together a long series of simple instructions, from what I recall. For years now EPIC has been touted as the RISC killer. Now the first Itanium sucked, but people are boasting that the new one - the Itanium 2 - clocked at 1GHz is faster than the Power4. On the other hand, at least it is very expensive right now, and Intel says it is about six years away from bringing the technology to the desktop.

Now I'm too preoccupied with other work to do the research myself, but I want to know where the hype meets reality. Are these benchmarks vapor, or have they been confirmed with shipping silicon? Additionally, if the Itanium is such a significant boon in the processor arena, what does this mean for the other players? (Read PPC.) I naturally am predisposed to rooting against Intel, but if they've stumbled upon a breakthrough that can't be ignored. Does anyone know if IBM is working on massively parallel projects, and if so, what state their work is at?

[ 07-30-2002: Message edited by: Big Mac ]</p>


  • Reply 1 of 6
    jambojambo Posts: 3,036member
    [quote]Originally posted by Big Mac:

    <strong>...the Itanium is based on EPIC. I forget what the acronym stands for, ...</strong><hr></blockquote>

    Explicitly Parallel Instruction Computing, for all those acronym junkies out there

    J :cool:
  • Reply 2 of 6
    matsumatsu Posts: 6,558member
    "...6 years away from the desktop." Power4 is here now. It's not on the desktop, but something like it has an outside shot of being on the desktop within 2 years.

    You don't need to worry about how Intel might trounce PPC in the future, they're smacking it silly right now using x86.
  • Reply 3 of 6
    yevgenyyevgeny Posts: 1,148member
    The real issue with the Itanium is getting a compiler that can reliably generate code that runs well on an EPIC processor. This is a nontrivial problem because Itanium's specs are usually generated on code that represents the best possible scenario for the chip.

    Itanium's market acceptance is at best anemic. Nobody is really looking to switch to them because raw CPU power is not really the determining factor that people make it out to be. Most people would prefer to purchase a server that was less likely to crash over a server that has better performance.

    In the Industry, the Itanium line of chips is well, seen as something of a waste of time. THey cost quite a bit, and it is difficult to find programs thaqt have been recompiled for them. If a program has not been recompiled, then its performance is unacceptable (think 200 MHz). If the chip is going to take off, then it is going to be quite some time before it happens.

    Also, remember that the Power4 is a chip that has been out longer than the Itanium2. I think that the next rev of the Power4 will leave the Itanium in the dust.
  • Reply 4 of 6
    alfredhalfredh Posts: 29member
    When the Itanium was first released some of our engineers here at Sun said it was a joke.

    Since Itanium 2 came out they said it is going to be even harder for us (Sun) to sell boxes.

    One of the engineers said that Sun were looking into developing their own vector processor but it is too small a market despite the huge performance advantage a vector processor has over a parallel processor. Didn't quite understand but it sounded good.

    As far as chip design went they said you couldn't beat Digital's Alpha chip.
  • Reply 5 of 6
    big macbig mac Posts: 480member
    Thank you all for your opinions on this matter. Yevgeny brought up a salient point that I forgot to mention concerning Itanium compiler performance. The original article I read on EPIC long ago questioned the chip's approach due to its huge reliance on compilers. EPIC shifts the duty of instruction ordering from the chip to the compiler. The article also stated that programs compiled for one generation of EPIC processors would have to be recompiled for the next generation EPIC. I guess I got caught up in the Intel hype, but Itanium's progress should be watched nonetheless.
  • Reply 6 of 6
    telomartelomar Posts: 1,804member
    I imagine it's the next generation of Itanium people will be interested in most. It's the first generation that the old Alpha engineers will have a decent amount of say in.
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