[Beowulf] Win64 Clusters!!!!!!!!!!!!

Peter St. John peter.st.john at gmail.com
Mon Apr 9 15:00:03 EDT 2007


On 4/9/07, John Hearns <john.hearns at streamline-computing.com> wrote:

> Peter St. John wrote:
> >
> >
> > MS contributed marketing. That's it. That's enough.
> >
> I disagree, strangely enough.


Actually Visual Basic is very very good at what it does; my generalization
is certainly not absolutely fair. However, I don't see which of your points
below credits to MS.


> Bob Brown has mentioned in this thread that the 'tipping point' for him
> came with the PII or PIV when code ran faster than big RISC machines.


MS marketing + IBM Open Architecture + competition in hardware, commoditized
the intel/clone platform, and that was great, sure. But I think MS's main
contribution to that was the marketing.



> I'll throw into the mix that nearly all 'big science' applications at
> the time ran on VMS or mainframe OSes, or supercomputers (Cray or CDC).
> At the time, Unix was seen by scientists as an OS for longhairs and
> computer science types.


Unix wasn't designed for data processing (as VMS was, I'd say) but for
development. For example, it was weak in the early development of OLTP and
real-time processing generally, but ended up into embedded processing
because it could be made so small.



> Along comes the Intel i386 architecture, and just as importantly for
> scientific computing, the DEC Alpha. Scientists see a big
> price/performance gain with the Alpha architecture.
> But what did they both run - Windows NT. And remember that NT was
> developed by the man hired by Microsoft from DEC.


Yeah NT can be considered an offshoot of VMS, but spoiled somewhat with the
integration into the OS of the UI, the way VMS integrates the Thick FS into
the OS (sorta, thru a Record Management System layer that really you could
skip if you wanted). But unix was ported to the intel/clone platform much
earlier. I ran System V on my 286 when DOS was level 3.2. Before Windows
3.11; which was a good design because the UI was an application running on
DOS, unlike later 98 which intergrated the UI with the OS.



> So at one point in history there was a prospect of having a unified OS
> running on everything from the desktop (i386) through to the Alpha
> powered job farms to the MIPS powered big SMP machines.
> Purely personal opinion, but I believe that Microsoft missed a big trick
> by dropping Alpha support for NT.


We did have one OS running on most everything then: unix. Unix ran on DEC,
HP, intel/clone, etc, before NT, and with few meaningful exceptions (brief
foray with Alpha), NT only runs on the one hardware line to this day. Which
btw makes it harder to design a chip for anything other than compatibility
with old chips.

One thing I thought was very cool about DEC is that they supported your
choice of VMS or Unix on the PDP11 (predecessor to VAX alpha). This was
about the time Casette Basic was starting to look primitive :-)



> The other tipping point came with SunOS/Solaris.
> A C compiler came bundled with SunOS (I'm not sure of my facts here, but
> as I recall free for academic use). With the switch to Solaris the
> compiler became a paid-for extra. In my experience, it caused the group
> I Was working with to look seriously at the Gnu C compiler for the first
> time, and with it the rest of the GNU tools.


When I borrowed my brother-in-law's Sun workstation (he was at Sun then) I
typed "cc whatever.c -o whatever" and got a license-permissions error. I was
flabbergasted. I asked him about it and his face dropped like a rock. He
said he'd opposed it, but they wanted to track who needed C enough to ask,
vs Java. So I learned to make a java object, and invoke an "interpreter" to
compile it into a program. Which said "hello world" and then I went to bed,
exhausted  :-)

I guess I just don't see which of these things you consider MS
contributions?

Peter



> --
>      John Hearns
>      Senior HPC Engineer
>      Streamline Computing,
>      The Innovation Centre, Warwick Technology Park,
>      Gallows Hill, Warwick CV34 6UW
>      Office: 01926 623130 Mobile: 07841 231235
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