[Linux-ia64] Itanium gets supercomputing software

Stephen Gaudet sgaudet at wildopensource.com
Fri Apr 11 16:46:25 EDT 2003

Bob Drzyzgula wrote:
> On Fri, Apr 11, 2003 at 09:58:08AM +1000, Duraid Madina wrote:
>>David Mosberger wrote:
>>>Remember that Intel is targeting Itanium 2 against Power4 and SPARC.
>>>In that space, the price of Itanium 2 is very competitive.
>>OK, I want to be clear on this. I asked why Itanium hardware is still so 
>>expensive. Your answer seems to be marketing speak for "The prices are 
>>still high because we are _happy_ selling small quantities of this 
>>equipment to people used to paying through the nose for good quality 
>>hardware." Is this correct?
> I'm not sure that it works this way. I think it's more like
> "We are making the best processor we know (or, perhaps,
> "knew", or "thought we knew", or even "allowed ourselves
> to know") how to make that will/would/might in our dreams
> be profitable to sell at this high price in moderate
> quantities." I expect that if they could sell one hundred
> times as many Itaniums at a tenth the price, they would
> ramp up the fabs and do it. But then you get into the
> chicken-or-egg problem: There's no software, and hence
> no demand, and hence no software, and hence no demand,
> that would justify the production of a hundred times as
> many Itaniums.

Based on over 25 years in computers owning a company for 5 years you see 
this change in the computing market over time.  When I sold Alpha based 
systems there was always a bitch about cost.

However, people that needed the compute cycles were more than willing to 
purchase Alpha over Intel because of what it brought them in total TCO. 
  More compute cycles, memory and bandwith.

Main problem was Digital at the time, was they never knew how to sell 
Alpha other than with UNIX.  They tried selling it with MS Windows and 
never made a dent in the market until OEM's starting selling it in the 
3D space with a little package called Renderman.  This was big hit with 
film studios.   Remember the movie Titanic?  Rendered on Alpha to give 
you a time line. The fastest cpu was a 21064, 275MHz and a system cost 
about $12,000.00.

The Alpha market started to take off when Digital screwed up with a 
product call the Multia.  This was a 21066 processor, 166Mhz or 233Mhz. 
The Multia was Digital's attempt to build a X terminal for Windows NT. 
It failed and left DEC with 15,000 of these pigs sitting around.

Now Digital needed to get rid of them quick. The plan was to sell them
with Linux and hopefully develop the Linux space.  These Multia/UDB sold 
for less than $2000.00. That's when Alpha started to take off. I 
personally sold tons of them. In fact, in a former life I even sold a 
system or two to David Mosberger.

So I'll agree that when the cost comes down more people will get involved
with the ia64.

BTW: Intel is looking to release a single cpu version of the ia64 
sometime this year.  When this happens I believe you'll see the market 
open up.

>>Can I then conclude that Intel has not yet had any interest whatsoever 
>>in driving IA64 into the realm of reasonble prices? It's sad to see so 
>>much work being put into this Linux port when, if things remain as they 
>>are, it will hardly be used.

Main reason as David alluded to these systems are meant to compete with 
high end Sun, HP and IBM servers.  Not in the commodity market. 
Remember, the cost in R&D on ia64 development.

> Be careful that you put the horse before the cart.
> Might it not be that the people doing this work are
> wagering that it will ultimately cause demand for
> the Itanium to increase? Could it really be expected
> that demand for Itanium *would* materialize without
> such investment in software happening first?
> In any event, virtually nothing remains as it is.

Myself I wouldn't worry, over time Intel has a way of getting the price 
down.  Heck, Dell has P4 desktops selling for $449.00 and notebooks for 
$799.00.  Wow.


Steve Gaudet
Wild Open Source
Bedford, NH 03110
pH: 603-488-1599
cell: 603-498-1600
Home: 603-472-8040

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