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Dividing the Linux desktop
LWN.net Weekly Edition for June 13, 2013
A report from pgCon 2013
Little things that matter in language design
mobile computers replacing desktop
Posted Sep 10, 2012 6:33 UTC (Mon) by khim (subscriber, #9252)
Not really. There are designs which can cover lower-power/lower-speed niche (ARM and MIPS), there are designs which cover higher-power/higher-speed niche (Itanic, POWER), there are no designs which scale better than x86.
That's why most TOP500 computers use it: they need something with the best available performance per watt (wall-power is one of the most important limitations for the supercomputers) and that "something" is either GPU or x86. Often both.
Posted Sep 10, 2012 6:56 UTC (Mon) by Cyberax (✭ supporter ✭, #52523)
Posted Sep 10, 2012 7:07 UTC (Mon) by dlang (✭ supporter ✭, #313)
which doesn't approach the single-core speed of the Power systems.
each of them has a market, they don't have to directly compete.
Unless you are shipping binary-only software and aren't willing to ship multiple copies. the industry has been in that mindset for a long time.
But in the mobile space they don't have the luxury of having a single binary target, and until and unless they do (which seems unlikely to happen in the short term), we have a real chance for competition between different processors, and for different processors to be used in different places. In the short term it's easier to try and mandate a hardware monoculture, but I don't think anyone has enough power to do so, especially with Android and Linux _not_ mandating it and giving everyone an example and an option to work with when they run into the monoculture limitations.
Posted Sep 10, 2012 11:55 UTC (Mon) by Cyberax (✭ supporter ✭, #52523)
New Xeons beat all the PPCs except for the top-of-the line POWER-7 CPUs. And then top-of-the line PPCs beat Xeons only because of their humongous die size and clock speeds (with corresponding TDP).
In reality there's no magic sauce that makes PPC to be inherently better than x86. They both use hardware decoders to split instructions into pipeline-able sub-instructions. Sure, decoders for RISCs are easier to implement but the difference in the number of transistors is trivial for desktop/server CPUs.
I'd several run-ins with IBM mainframe guys about a year ago. They told my client how great and fast their mainframes were, that $100000 per system couldn't be wrong, could it? So my client went and leased a 'small' unit - telling how great it would be.
IO turned out to be slow as hell compared to our simple Xeon-based server with a RAID of Intel SSDs. CPU performance indeed was higher, but not by much - and we got one of the fastest CPUs available.
Posted Sep 10, 2012 13:16 UTC (Mon) by khim (subscriber, #9252)
But in the mobile space they don't have the luxury of having a single binary target, and until and unless they do (which seems unlikely to happen in the short term), we have a real chance for competition between different processors, and for different processors to be used in different places.
Define "short term". We had similar situation on PC, too. Early versions of many programs supported many different CPUs (I've personally used Turbo Pascal on x86-based systems and on z80-based systems). But eventually market settled on "IBM PC compatible" and most other systems died of. Mac survived (barely), but all other IBM PC-incompatible personal computers perished. x86-incompatible systems perished without exceptions. This is why Intel and MIPS are so desperate to push their CPUs in mobile space: they know that if they'll not do that in a year or two they'll lose the opportunity forever. Already the biggest complaint WRT x86-phones Androids and MIPS-based Androids is poor ARM emulation and poor work of many popular programs with binary-only components.
In the short term it's easier to try and mandate a hardware monoculture, but I don't think anyone has enough power to do so, especially with Android and Linux _not_ mandating it and giving everyone an example and an option to work with when they run into the monoculture limitations.
Bwa-ha-ha. Just want and see. Windows NT also supported multitude of CPUs (), but in the end… market have chosen just one architecture: x86. Short-term? Nope, this is not the question of short-term. I'm not sure who'll win the mobile race (there are still some time left and MIPS and x86 both have advantages: MIPS is free and x86 makes it easy to port software from PC), but in the end it'll be one choice.
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