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x86(-64) adoption driven by performance/price, but is already second-best

x86(-64) adoption driven by performance/price, but is already second-best

Posted Oct 9, 2007 19:50 UTC (Tue) by hazelsct (guest, #3659)
In reply to: Funny how you've mentioned Ultra-high performance systems by khim
Parent article: Memory part 2: CPU caches

> BTW: Debian is thinking about abandonment of the 11 primary architectures system - obscure architectures often break the only pair that matters (x86 and x86-64) so they'll eventually exclude most of them from "tier 1" support list...

Check your facts: this was proposed a couple of years ago, and ten of the eleven arches (all but m68k) satisfied all of the "tier 1" requirements for official release in etch. And where did you get the idea that obscure architectures "break" x86 or x86-64? The only burden they place on the project is mirror space, and mirror admins can exclude them if they wish.

> Other distributions already gave non-x86 architectures "second class citizens" status...

So what? Eleven arches build 95% of the Debian repository, so we have support for nearly all of the 19,000 Debian packages everywhere. PPC/Cell gives much better performance/price than x86(-64), and will only become more so, and we are there now. And Ubuntu *added* SPARC last year, so they're going in the opposite direction, toward more architectures. Perhaps they see the writing on the high-performance wall?


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Reality check on PPC/Cell

Posted Oct 9, 2007 20:51 UTC (Tue) by jmorris42 (guest, #2203) [Link]

> PPC/Cell gives much better performance/price than x86(-64),
> and will only become more so, and we are there now.

No it doesn't. Tell me where I can buy this mythical PPC/Cell with better price/performance and I'll withdraw the objection.

Hint: I'm not talking about a Playstation3 or an IBM Cell based blade. Both are far too restrictive environments to be 'general purpose'. The PS3 is crippled consumer electronics with a dumb 2D framebuffer, little RAM, low end storage and no high speed IO. A blade is only useful in very high density server farms or compute clusters.

Show me where I can buy an actual desktop PC or 1/2U Server based on a Cell or PPC that exhibits better price/performace on real world workloads. For a desktop that would be 3D modeling, heavy numerical crunching (but not cluster workloads) for engineering or some such CPU intensive workload. A web browser and office suite no longer matters, ANY current production CPU should be more than enough for that. For a server workload take your pick, web server workloads (LAMP or JSP) database, file server, whatever.

The reality is only a few niche players produce PPC/Cell hardware and the price simply isn't competitive with x86 or x86-64 because of that. Yes a Cell has some advantages vs x86 hardware which existed when it was introduced, but Cell is still basically the same and the x86 world has been churning newer faster chips with more and more cores. This is what kills every interesting new arch.


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