[Linux-ia64] Itanium gets supercomputing software

Richard Walsh rbw at ahpcrc.org
Mon Apr 14 18:15:34 EDT 2003

Duraid Madina wrote:

>On FP-heavy workloads, perhaps. On integer workloads, hardly. And that's 
>only comparing it against HP's own PA-8700 hardware! Compare it to more 
>mainstream hardware and you'll see just how laughable Itanium 2 prices 
>are. The Itanium 2 doesn't have significantly higher performance than 
>today's Xeons. Opteron, at least for the time being, performs 
>significantly better again.

The SPECFP numbers rate the Itanium 2 at about 1425 (relative to the
base Sun) and the Pentium 4 at about 1100. That's about a 20% advantage
on floating point (PA-RISC rates a 600 I think). The integer ratio is
about 1100 to 800 in favor of Pentium 4.  Bandwidth to memory as measured 
by stream triad is 50% better on the Itanium implying that you will get 
a larger percentage of peak for out-of-cache workloads.  Then there is 
the 64-bit address space, EPIC compiler technology, etc.  ... but ... 

Itanium 2 prices seem high to me. However, the questions is really one for
Intel and HP ... is the current price generating enough volume to hit the 
revenue sweet spot. They could care less whether I, you, or any random individual 
buyer likes the price ;-).  The price is right if they are maximizing the 
time-integrated return on the product. Initial pricing should err high ...
you can always lower it, but can never raise it.  Until Opteron is available, 
the only, long-lived, direct competition is the Power 4 (is it available in 1 
and 2 processor configurations?). Plus, why should Intel compete with their
own price-performance Pentium 4 systems by lowering Itanium 2 prices?  They 
are serving two markets segments those with more money than brains and those
with more brains than money ... ;-). The market is quantized ... each product
has its own quantum number.

I would be interested in SPECFP and Stream Triad numbers for the 
Opteron if you have them.


# Richard Walsh
# Project Manager, Cluster Computing, Computational
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#                                  -SpinDoctors

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