[Linux-ia64] Itanium gets supercomputing software

Duraid Madina duraid at octopus.com.au
Mon Apr 14 19:14:26 EDT 2003

Richard Walsh wrote:
> 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.

You think a 20% advantage justifies the price difference, or qualifies 
as significantly higher performance?

 > 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.

That's pretty pathetic in the light of Opteron and even today's Intel 
875 desktop chipset. Is Madison going to bring Itanium 2 a new FSB? Nope.

> Then there is the 64-bit address space,

What a great reason to charge through the roof.

> EPIC compiler technology,

Even better!!

> 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?).

Well if we believe AMD, Opteron arrives next week. You go buy up your 
Itanium 2s (or POWER 4s).

> Plus, why should Intel compete with their
> own price-performance Pentium 4 systems by lowering Itanium 2 prices?

Because if they lowered Itanium 2 prices, Opteron wouldn't have a 
market. It's too late now, for Itanium 2. Itanium 2.5/3 may be a 
different story (we can only hope).

> 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.

Itanium 2 certainly seems to be in a superposition of "fantastic" and 
"worthless" that the computer market hasn't seen for quite some time.

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

SPECfp2000 is ~1170 for a 2GHz 1MB L2 Opteron. Not too bad. The SPECint 
figure is fantastic though (~1200). I hate x86 as much as the next guy, 
but it looks like this is what I'm going to be working with for some 
time, _thanks to Intel and their incredibly uninspired pricing strategy_.


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