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Transmeta

Transmeta Will Help AMD Make Code-Morphing Chips 73

Posted by timothy
from the form-of-an-icemonkey! dept.
Mark Imbriaco (and company!) writes: "This story at News.com talks about how AMD is working with Transmeta to ship developers systems using the processor instructions from their upcoming Sledgehammer chip -- apparently Transmeta is working on a version of their code-morphing software that supports this instruction set. In return they seem to be getting a license to make chips using parts of the Sledgehammer design. If it's true, it's a pretty cool step for Transmeta since their other products to date have gotten a mostly lukewarm response over the past couple of months."
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Transmeta Will Help AMD Make Code-Morphing Chips

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  • >I wonder if it isn't a move by AMD to get the processor into a mobile platform ASAP.

    Yeah, I'm thinking the same thing. Your Subject: line is prophetic - "Cool for AMD".

    The only real barrier I see AMD having in the mobile market is heat. PowerNow (that thing where they underclock/undervolt the CPU during times of low load) should help considerably, but what I'd really like to see is how much of TMTA's "we run super-low-power and super-cool" technology AMD can l33ch.

    As I see it, the world doesn't need a laptop emulating Sledgehammer anywhere near as much as it needs a laptop with a cool-running 1.2 GHz Athlon at a fraction of the cost of a PIII.

    (Of course, if Sledge lives up to its billing, it'll be faster emulated on a Transmeta chip than Intel's solution anyway, so I could be missing the forest for the trees here. I gotta admit, a cool-running Sledge laptop would also kick mucho blue man ass.)

  • >Could this be the same modification I predicted at the time details of "Code Morphing" 1st leaked out? Basically my hunch was that Transmeta could tie a bunch of crusos together with it's code morphing so that they appear to the OS as a single CPU of immense power.

    I can't guess one way or the other... but your prediction does fit nicely with the multiprocessor capabilities of the Hammer line. Could be damn interesting if you're right. (And a great way to sell lots of CPUs per box... if you're a chipmaker, you stop caring if PC makers are selling less boxen when you're regularly selling more than one chip per box.)

  • I think that Transmeta is showing it code morphing technology off by doing this. In the end they will prolly make more money off of licensing the patents than they will of off the chips considering that the cost of everything keeps dropping.
  • Definitely better than the, "You make a grown man cry!" theme for Windows95.

    --
  • I couldn't find anything that was "heavily" mac-centric there (which is a fan-run site, BTW). His Real World Multimedia [realworld.co.uk] company makes products for Mac 68K, MacPPC, Win 3.1, Win 95, and Win 98 - so it really looks like he at least kinda supports both popular architectures... The petergabriel.com site has some VBscript in it, and I'm pretty sure that's not a Mac friendly thing either.

    However, I'd like to be corrected if I'm mistaken. :)

  • by 2ndPersonShooter (235295) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @08:54AM (#535099)
    Judging from his website though, he is heavily into Macs

    Oddly enough, so are the Blue Men. [apple.com]

  • Yep. Judging from his website [petergabriel.com] though, he is heavily into Macs [apple.com] (and, as the cliche goes, so are many creative/artistic folks). Of course if Apple ever saw the light and put out an x86 MacOS X box w/AMD inside (as is oft rumored, but would probably only happen over Jobs' dead body).... can we say "slam dunk?"

    #include "disclaim.h"
    "All the best people in life seem to like LINUX." - Steve Wozniak
  • If amds chips will perform as well as intels chips do in servers this will very good for consumers, since amds chips cost 30% less than intels do(usually).

    Well... this case is a bit different... Usually AMD has created chips that are *compatible* with Intels offerings... This time they aren't. I don't know, but i'm guessing that this time Intel patented their instruction set or otherwise protected it in order to make sure no AMD's arise on that front for many years.

    So it's just a matter of which architecture developers follow. That said. I'm betting AMD will turn out the big winner, in light of they're not looking to abandon their platform as Intel is. The Itanium looked really powerful on paper a few years back when Intel was saying it'd debut at 600 or 700 MHz, but now AMD's at 1.2 GHz, the P4 is at 1.4 GHz, et al...And as much as Intel wants it, the market they're going after is actually quite small. Yes, high margin, but still incredibly small compared to the market which brought them their current riches.... And their chip will be the least estabilshed brand. So while AMD can eventually "float" the higher end market, intel's offering basically end up being stuck in a sink or swim predicament...

    ANd if that happens... What'll AMD decide to charge for their chips if they've clearly bested intel?
  • This is on a 600MHz Sony Vaio C1VN Picturebook. Any questions?

    .technomancer

  • Since when was teh Alpha affordable?? The P4 is about 5% slower than the fastest Alpha, and costs 1/4 as much.
  • I think my point is, intel was speccing the Merced, it set it's target MHz rating based on it's usual progress (Moore's Law). That was before AMD was deemed a threat. Through the last year or so of head on competition, and with that competition only posed to heat up even more in order to fight for a larger piece of the slowing PC market, the Pentium familly is racing ahead of performance expectations.

    Merced/Itanium/IA64 hasn't been subjected to that competition at all. Intel's just been taking their time designing it, but already, the chip is proving difficult to run past 600 or 700 MHz. Thats the same speed that it was expected to arrive at years back, when we were using 233, 266 and 300 MHz Pentium II's.

    Yes, more instructions per cycle, but the race between Athlon and Pentium is pushing x86 performance higher than Intel ever expected. So, for all but the most memory intensive operations, the x86 may be able to win out over Itanium just based on clockspeed. The expectations of the Itanium haven't been increased to reflect market conditions.

    If that makes sense?
  • by roca (43122) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @09:23AM (#535105) Homepage
    > Anyone care to enlighten me as to what is really
    > involved here ?

    Sure. What you're talking about is impossible.

    You assume that software is inherently fully paralellizable, and that's very far from the truth. A huge amount of work has been done on automatic parallelisation, and the results are not very promising. Automatic parallelisation is difficult to implement, takes a lot of computation, and in the end it only works for certain kinds of programs (programs which are dominated by loops with predictable structure).
    Many programs are inherently serial and cannot be parallelised. Automatic parallelisation also tends to rely on static analysis, which is basically impossible to do at the level of binary machine code.

    The Stanford Hydra processor does a form of automatic parallelisation of binary code using thread-level data speculation, but there's plenty of evidence that the speedups are not that great without support from the compiler.

    If your hardware supported thread-level data speculation (none does at present), then I could believe that code morphing might be able to produce significant speedups using parallelisation, but the code morphing process would be much slower and the speedups would be much less than proportional to the number of processors.
  • Transmeta HAS shipped... well, since they pay Linus to basically take up a desk and work on the Linux Kernel, Transmeta is somewhat responsible for the shipping of Linux 2.4.0, albiet rather late...
  • by abelsson (21706) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @09:36AM (#535107) Homepage
    I can't belive how many people are missing the point of this announcement.

    AMD isnt' redesigning Sledgehammer to include Transmeta tech. They're using Cruoses as development simulators to get developers to port their code to the Sledgehammer architecture *before* the silicon hits the shelves. Today, this is NOTHING MORE than a way for AMD to ship fast enough simulators so that ppl can start coding for the Sledgehammer.

    In the long term however - it'll allow transmeta to develop Sledgehammer compatible chips - but that's a long way off. (BTW, Is it only me that thinks that they targeted their chips at the mobile market as an afterthought "Oops guys, we can't get this to run fast enough. What to do?" "Hmm.. we'll call it a mobile chip.")

    -henrik

  • *laugh*

    Now THAT'S the ad campaign AMD needs to get "mindshare". It would beat Intel's Blue Men, and DEFINITELY the guys in the shiny clean suits with the pseudo-rock playing in the background.

    The 'Intel Inside' melodic bong-bong-bong-bong! is kinda catchy, though.

    --Just Another Pimp A$$ Perl Hacker
  • by powerlord (28156) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @07:20AM (#535109) Journal
    I wonder if it isn't a move by AMD to get the processor into a mobile platform ASAP.

    Assuming that the Sledgehammer code can run (decently) on existing Transmeta chips, then they may beat Intel to market on the 'next generation 64-bit x86 successor', in a laptop version. This leaves AMD to concentrate on a desktop/server processor without worrying about mobile concerns (heat/power/size).

    It would also give transmeta a shot in the arm since they would be in the position of offering something that no one else had (a laptop ready version of Sledgehammer).
  • Oh arse. That'll teach me to go the pub at lunch and then try and read tech articles... Xo)

    (Or not.)

    Cheers.

  • by sacherjj (7595) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @07:23AM (#535111) Homepage

    Unfortunately it seems like businesses treat Intel and AMD like Microsoft and Open Source. Will this help change anything?

    "Why don't use Open Source/AMD instead of Microsoft/Intel?"

    "Well, we have been doing pretty good with Microsoft/Intel and and we don't see a reason to change."

    "Can't you see that Open Source/AMD is better, fast, and cheaper?"

    "Yeah, but change is bad..."

  • by lambda (4236)
    Isn't Transmeta the one who needs help from AMD? I guess Transmeta has eliminated any notion of profit from its business plan.
  • by Forge (2456) <kevinforgeNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @07:29AM (#535113) Homepage Journal
    Could this be the same modification I predicted at the time details of "Code Morphing" 1st leaked out? Basically my hunch was that Transmeta could tie a bunch of crusos together with it's code morphing so that they appear to the OS as a single CPU of immense power.

    This means that you could have a machine that Linux or Win2K recognizes as simply 2 way SMP ( nearly liner scaling at that level ) but in reality it's 16 CPUs in gangs of 8. Even with the overhead from code morphing being high ( and I have no evidence that it is ) this could still perform like a 12 CPU dream machine.

    Then again I may be totally wrong and this "prediction" has no connection with reality whatsoever.

    Anyone care to enlighten me as to what is really involved here ?
  • by ackthpt (218170) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @08:05AM (#535114) Homepage Journal
    Finally a 64 bit processor, and with amd the server chips might be affordable.

    What, never heard of the Compaq Alpha?

    Check some of the examples at Polywell [polywell.com]. You can find more with some simple searches, like Yahoo [yahoo.com]

    Relevent story on The Register [theregister.co.uk].

    Oddly enough, Polywell indicates they are _shipping_ Athlon DDR systems [polywell.com].

    --
    +++ Out Of Cheese Error +++
    +++ MELON MELON MELON +++

  • by TheAncientHacker (222131) <TheAncientHacker @ h o t m ail.com> on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @08:07AM (#535115)
    Isn't Transmeta the one who needs help from AMD?

    And Transmeta got it. The AMD deal has allowed Transmeta to produce the only things they've been competitively successful at shipping: Press Releases and Slashdot articles.

  • Actually, an SMP cluster acting as a uniprocessor machine would probably not provide that much of a performance boost. All you're basically doing is moving the scheduler from the OS to the processor cluster, which would not give that much of an increase, and maybe even provide a performance hit, unless you're willing to create registers, instructions, etc that the OS can use to weigh certain processes, which would eliminate some of the advantages of the unified exterior.

    Of course, I don't have as wide of a field of knowledge in this area as some of the other people in this forum, but this is my guess

  • A lot of hardware vendors write simulators for their hardware before the hardware is available. This lets them get started on the system software (OS and compilers) while the hardware is being developed and debugged.

    It sounds like AMD's software simulator for the 64 bit Sledgehammer was too slow to use .. so they're using Transmeta technology to ship something even better - a chip that behaves like the real thing. A Transmeta chip can simulate a 64 bit Sledgehammer, probably much faster than the software simulator.

    Imagine what a developer gets on their desk - a hardware box that looks and feels like a 64 bit Sledgehammer, except the BIOS initializes the CPU a little differently and it's a bit slower than the real thing, which doesn't exist yet. Sure beats the hell out of simulating everything, including the I/O, which is the other alternative.
  • Is it just me, or is this story in response to a comment by someone in another story [slashdot.org] who claimed his story was rejected by slashdot.

    Slashdot needs to get it's act together, and the moderators will probably troll me for insulting them, but it's true
  • If AMD are planning on redesigning the 32-bit emulation facilities for Sledgehammer, does that mean a later release date for the chip? How does that affect the likelihood of uptake for the new chip?

    AMD's design, as reported so far, unlike Intel's design, does NOT use 32 bit emulation in the sense that your post implies.

    From the latest I've seen, AMD's chip runs 32 bit code natively, on a pair of 32 bit cores that are capable of being operated together in 64 bit mode. There is no redesign of the emulation facilities because the Sledgehammer doesn't use it. That will be one prime advantage of the Hammer series of chips over Intel's 64 bit chips.

    AMD & Transmeta's goal is to get a good, fast Sledgehammer emulator into the market well in advance of the actual Sledgehammer chip.

    Please read the articles more carefully before posting.

  • Actually, transmeta wasn't in direct competition with the two; thier chips are made with a different purpose in mind.

  • Yes, more instructions per cycle, but the race between Athlon and Pentium is pushing x86 performance higher than Intel ever expected. So, for all but the most memory intensive operations, the x86 may be able to win out over Itanium just based on clockspeed. The expectations of the Itanium haven't been increased to reflect market conditions.

    I would say that's unlikely. An Alpha will outperform a higher clockspeed x86 chip. It's more than just more instructions per cycle. 64 bit instructions help just about everything. I haven't looked at the spec for the instruction set, but I'm guessing that Intel has dumped a lot of the crap that the x86 instruction set had. There are instructions for BCDs in the x86 instruction set. Does anyone use them these days? Not likely. Even if they were used they would probably be slower since Intel's strategy lately has been to optimize the simpler instructions in imitation of the RISC architecture. Optimized code uses a bunch of little instructions rather than one slower equivalent instruction. However, the other instructions are just dead weight. Getting rid of the crap leaves more chip real estate for optimizing the simpler, more general purpose instructions.


    "Homo sum: humani nil a me alienum puto"
    (I am a man: nothing human is alien to me)


  • There's no reason why Transmeta sledgehammer compatible chips are a long way off. First off, the simulator chip could be completely sledgehammer compatible, albeit a bit slow on actual 64-bit operations, since the Transmeta chips apparently currently have 32-bit ALUs. Second, extending the Transmeta chips to have 64-bit ALUs probably isn't that expensive. The MIPS guys have reported how much complexity it added to the R4000... it wasn't bad.

  • It's probably not that difficult technically, but for marketing and financial reasons i doubt we'll see a Sledgehammer compatible Cruose anytime soon. Transmeta will most likely wait and see how well the platform performs in the market before going out on a limb and embrace the platform. Unless microsoft ports windows and most of it's applications, i doubt AMD will succed. Transmeta probably doesnt have the financial muscle to keep two different platforms in the air at the same time either.

    -henrik

  • "Can't you see that Open Source/AMD is better, fast, and cheaper?"

    "Yeah, but change is bad..."

    Oh please. I've used AMD in my home system since the early K6's, but I still won't put them in a server. Why?

    • No ECC functionality - Kind of useful in a server.
    • No MicroATX boards with video and a good 100BaseT chip - Pretty much required for a 1U server.
    • No multi-processor chipsets - Yeah, yeah, it's "just over the horizon." That doesn't help me right now.
    This is an improvement over the K6/K6-2 chipsets, which could not be set to power on when plugged in. You power cycled the box and it stayed off. That really sucked.

    I have no problem with AMD CPUs, but nobody seems interested in targetting the server market with them.

  • This will lend some serious legitimacy to the Sledgehammer. Plus, it sounds like there will be clones, too! Love it.
  • This might just be the shot in the arm that Transmeta needs to get it back to where it belongs.

    Unfortunately, as all know, the recent failure of Transmeta to really secure a company willing to openly use its technology (with the one exception of Sony) has hurt it in the public eye. I'm willing to bet that, at least on some level, irrepreable damage was done a week after launch when compaq pulled out, and IBM chose to rethink their position.

    However, a new major backer, especially another semi-established chip company, might just be the major backer that T needs to go from in the dark chip company to what it really should be, a publically watch company with a great force in the future.

  • by Spit_Fire1 (247104) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @07:01AM (#535127)
    The Sledgehammer simulator is crucial to AMD's plans to break into the lucrative server market. With a software simulation of the chip, developers can tweak their programs so they can release products when Sledgehammer emerges commercially in the first half of 2002. AMD will also come out with a version for desktop computers called ClawHammer, the company has said.

    If amds chips will perform as well as intels chips do in servers this will very good for consumers, since amds chips cost 30% less than intels do(usually). This will allow smaller companies to have much faster servers at a better price. Seems like a win-win situation, well except for intel(which will still get the high-end market share,for now anyway)

    Sledgehammer is one of AMD's most ambitious projects to date. The chip will process data in 64-bit chunks, rather than in 32 bits like AMD's Athlon processor. Sledgehammer also will allow computers to manage more memory than current PCs and servers. The chip will compete against the long-awaited Itanium processor from Intel.
    Finally a 64 bit processor, and with amd the server chips might be affordable.
  • I remember how long everyone waited for Tansmeta to announce what they were doing, and when they finally did, as cool as it seemed, the enthusiasm just died. Don't get me wrong, I'd like to get my own Crusoe portable, but I'm not as enthused about it as I was when they first announced it.

    Let's just hope that more hype like this about Transmeta doesn't totally finish them off.
  • by Fervent (178271)
    Ok, Deja Vu. [slashdot.org]
  • You need to read more carefully... The person quoted in the article (who you also quoted) was refering to the software-based emulator that AMD developers had to resort to before AMD signed this deal with Transmeta. They're betting that they can get better performance out of a Transmeta processor running "code-morphed" Sledgehammer instructions than their current software-only emulator. So basically, what AMD gets out of this deal is a more usable emulator to make their developers' jobs easier, and in exchange, Transmeta gets technology that will improve their future products. All in all, it looks like a pretty sweet deal for Transmeta.
  • It would have been cool to have three major competitors for a change, but I guess Transmeta was never up to that.
  • Regardless of chip design or performance, AMD is still seen by many as a bargain chip-maker, and Transmeta is seen as a new idea that hasn't really taken off, not to mention defective.

    It only makes sense for these two underdogs to join together to take on Intel, but they've got a lot of catching up to do in the public eye before they become a serious threat.

  • If AMD are planning on redesigning the 32-bit emulation facilities for
    Sledgehammer, does that mean a later release date for the chip? How
    does that affect the likelihood of uptake for the new chip?

    I don't know what to make about this story. My gut feeling is that
    AMD is casting about in its 64-bit strategy after not getting the
    support it had been counting on from Microsoft.

  • Reading your post, I nodding to myself in agreement. Until I got to the actual time quote.

    Considering I can restore my old NCR 486-66 from a parallel port 2x CDROM drive (image is 685M, gzipped) plus install Windows 95 manually in a little under two hours, I'd say it came down to either operator incompetance or a CDROM drive banging against bad media.
  • but let's see if my mind works well:

    - transmeta releases its chip. Sony, hitachi and others think "interesting! just build up something". IBM awaits.

    - IBM refuses to implement the TM in its laptops, adducting (and being right about) performance problems. In the underground, develop his code morphing engine.

    - Transmeta, without the IBM support, now search someone to catch in the idea, just not to fight alone between giants.

    Adding code morphing capability to AMD Processor should reduce the overheat who often afflicts the AMD processors. So everyone (TM and AMD) have something to learn in this partnership.
  • by ackthpt (218170) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @08:29AM (#535136) Homepage Journal
    AMD still has a long way to go for acceptance with the top tier PC manufacturers. These tier one producers readily recall AMD's bad days and view every advance skeptically. Meanwhile, Intel has reacted almost comically to AMD's sudden catch up, as it were a Tex Avery version of the Tortoise and Hare parable. The Hare, napping beneath a tree, suddenly realizes the plodding Tortoise is closing in on the victory line. He leaps up turns around and runs smack into the tree. Intel's recent series of foibles _should_ give producers like Dell some pause to consider if it's wise to only bet on one.

    --
    +++ Out Of Cheese Error +++
    +++ MELON MELON MELON +++

  • by Christopher B. Brown (1267) <cbbrowne@gmail.com> on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @08:31AM (#535137) Homepage
    The hard thing about SMP is the issue of memory access. You assortedly have:
    • The need to have buses that allow multiple processors to access the same memory;
    • The need to have buses to just plain allow access to a bunch of memory to a bunch of processors ;
    • The need for synchronization logic so the processors don't step on one another.

    The latter "bit" is no small matter, and the potential of having a bunch of CPUs on one chip doesn't make these issues go away.

    These issues are essentially why AMD (and Cyrix and others) haven't had SMP systems; it's costly to construct the logic necessary to let multiple CPUs play on the same set of memory buses without trampling on one another, and the tradition of AMD/Cyrix being "low end" was just not compatible with spending the money to build that.

    I'm still skeptical that there will be any massive movement by AMD towards SMP. And the introduction of some "cool code morphing" from Transmeta doesn't do anything to simplify or otherwise resolve this.

    I would think that there could be some pretty slick results from an AMD/Transmeta technology transfer; it's just that SMP doesn't seem high on the list of "obvious cool things."

  • Ok, let's say Transmeta and AMD go all out on this partnership and exploit their respective strengths...

    • Transmeta creates a laptop CPU that runs the Sledgehammer instruction set (a little slowly, but cheaper and using less power).
    • AMD concentrates on high-performance Sledgehammers and leaves the low-end stuff to Transmeta
    • AMD & Transmeta work together on a version of Sledgehammer that executes Itanium byte code. A sledgehammer core + Transmeta's morphing tricks.

    The last possibility is really interesting. I bet AMD and Transmeta have thought of this too.

  • How many chips has Transmeta actually sold? How many slashdot threads have discussed transmeta chips? Which number is greater?
  • by Tyrannosaurus (203173) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @08:36AM (#535140)
    Go figure: two competing companies working together to develop exciting new products. Go get 'em AMD and Transmeta!

    This is an example that should be followed more widely. The strength of each company is being utilized here, and the end result is better for everyone: AMD, Transmeta, and the consumer.

    This is also an example of why most of the people reading this site despise Microsoft so much. When was the last time MS worked together with another company to make a better product? It's so much easier for them to simply buy the competitor, or crush them with their own product, haphazardly cooked up with a flurry of resources. MS is unfortunately in the position where they can ignore QA and true innovation due to their almost gauranteed market share for any product they introduce.

    May more companies follow the lead of AMD and Transmeta! Oh, and Happy New Year!!

    ---


  • Your comment doesn't fit the text of the article. AMD clearly is seeking a fast simulator for the x86-64 instruction set. Whether Transmeta licenses LDT or not is a separate issue. And whether or not you think Transmeta's technology is new or not, it certainly is a dandy way to build a fast simulator for an x86-related instruction set.

  • But only if it will run the next version of Battle Arena: Toshinden.

    --
  • The more processors you use, the higher your memory latency goes up. "Real" multiprocessor systems use advanced switching technology like NUMA to reduce cpu-memory latency.

    This would make a massive number of Crusoe chips linked together a bad joke.

  • by Animats (122034) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @08:41PM (#535144) Homepage
    This is just a tool so developers can develop for the Sledgehammer technology before the actual parts ship. It's routine to offer some sort of emulation product for a new CPU to allow concurrent hardware and software development. This is just another way to do it, reusing the Transmeta technology in an application where performance isn't a big issue.

    We're talking about a modest number of development systems here, not a production product.

  • BTW, Is it only me that thinks that they targeted their chips at the mobile market as an afterthought "Oops guys, we can't get this to run fast enough. What to do?" "Hmm.. we'll call it a mobile chip."

    Not sure if you are joking, so I'm answering seriously. It's clear to me they had the mobile market in mind all along; their design is tiny and dissipates a very small amount of heat, and they have a feature for dynamically changing the clock rate. Existing "mobile" chips have a feature for idling the CPU to save power, but Transmeta can actually slow the clock rate down. More on this, plus cool infrared photos of heat dissipation, here [transmeta.com].

    I would seriously love to have a desktop computer with two or four Crusoe chips in it. I dream of having a computer running Linux quickly yet as quiet as the Atari 520 ST we used to have. (The Atari had no cooling fans, and no hard disk; if the floppy disks were idle, it was silent.) If a single 600 MHz Crusoe runs about as fast as a Celeron/300, two of them ought to be plenty for reading my mail and such. And it should be possible to cool them with just heat sinks.

    steveha

  • ... and in the end it only works for certain kinds of programs (programs which are dominated by loops with predictable structure).

    This is certainly true, but then there are a fair few things of this nature which, if code is tailored for, can be massively optimised.
    The example that springs to mind is Quake-style rendering routines... If this code was suitably analysed (at copmile time i guess), a multi-processor array could safely parallelise the code and gain a linear performance improvement.
    The point about thread-level data speculation is valid, and there again it is a matter of annotated compilation. Roll on next-generation languages for parallel systems. Code morphing is not the answer...

  • "I wanna be your.... Sledgehammer!"

    #include "disclaim.h"
    "All the best people in life seem to like LINUX." - Steve Wozniak
  • by rw2 (17419) on Wednesday January 03, 2001 @07:02AM (#535148) Homepage
    This is pretty funny if you look at it from the standpoint of a five year time history. Five years ago AMD was in the tank, Intel ruled the world. People were wondering what would happen when AMD finally collapsed. Their product line wasn't that compelling and they couldn't manufacture reliably what they had designed.

    Now AMD is taking market share away from Intel, their chips are better and Intel is the one who can't manufacture anything in quantity to save their lives. To top it off, the AMD design is better.

    Who does Transmeta turn to in that situation. It isn't hard to see that Intel isn't going to want to help them politically, but since AMD is a better choice anyway they go with the underdog.

    Sweeeet.

    --

  • Not only is it cool for Transmeta, but it is also pretty damn cool for AMD. If they were to write the morph code properly, quick software development for their new chip would definately be possible. Plus, it would be a pretty good notch in Transmeta's bedpost if they could properly pull this off.

    Slightly off topic, I wonder if Sony would consider creating low cost Playstation2 development systems with Transmeta morphing software... ;-)

    Bryan R.
  • From the article:
    AMD's Sledgehammer "simulator is quite slow. It runs at speeds like PCs 15 years ago," said a source with a software company, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
    So... there's no way of telling how well your code is actually performing? Nice step forwards with regards to translatable code and stuff, but you wouldn't exactly develop a 3d engine on a 386 these days...
    Also, what are the implications for the Transmeta chip? If interoperability is one of the USPs, then a 15-year old performance isn't good. However, the article also mentions:
    In turn, Transmeta has obtained a license that will allow it to make chips that rely in part on the Sledgehammer design.
    ...so hopefully this performance would improve drastically, probably by the time that the Sledgehammer actually ships, of course.
  • only one of which i have yet taken naked pictures of.

    i bet i get negative Karma for that here, but it speaks well of the coming year for me.
  • if it did work, Saadam would buy all the damn things up ;-)
  • Wait a second, you are talking about the speed of the simulator. That's a lot different than talking about the speed of the actual chip. It's akin to saying the Playstation is slow because Bleem runs slowly on your 486.
  • The story actually doesn't say that Transmeta will help AMD make code-morphing chips. The description here is all wrong. The article actaully says that Transmeta has licensed the rights to AMD's upcoming new technology, Sledgehammer, to be included in a line of their chips. Sometimes I wonder if anyone actually reads the articles here.

  • I am not just talking about the Server market. How many desktop PCs at your office use Intel microprocessors? How many use AMD?

    If I was unsure of using AMD on not as mission critical applications, such as desktops, why would I even think of trying AMD on a server when it becomes available. My point is the rut that a business can get into where the benefits have to be much higher than would logically require a change. If there was a way to reduce that rut, all new and better technologies would benefit. I don't know if it is more based on the human fear of change or the risk factor.

  • Right. It looks like this deal may well wind up with Transmeta selling a 64-bit, Sledgehammer-compatible Crusoe for the mobile market at some date in the future, but for now, it's just a way for AMD to get software developed for the x86-64 architecture.

    If your Karma is greater than 25, you post on /. way too much!

    Yep. I do. In fact, this is my second account. My first, with a 4-digit ID#, had 98 karma when the caps came in, and only seeing the number go down depressed me. When this one goes up the handful of extra points to hit 50, I'll create another one.
  • Actually, AMD's in good shape for SMP now, because they're using licensed Alpha technology for the current bus and are licensing Alpha technology for the multiprocessor bus.
  • Since the Sledgehammer x86-64 instruction set is just a superset of IA-32, it wouldn't be much like going out on a limb to ship only x86-64 Crusoes. It might take a slight speed hit running IA-32 code, but the Crusoe isn't a high-speed part to begin with. And if the compatibility is done in the code-morphing software, the differences between an IA-32- and x86-64-compatible Crusoe would be one Flash RAM update either direction.

  • Sure, but try to put that in a 64-processors server.
    Scratch that. Try to put that in a 2-processors system.
    Scratch that. The P4 is not able to do SMP. Pity, isn't it?

    SMP is kind of a must-have in servers doing work, and I mean lots of work. The P3-Xeon is sort of the best thing out there in the x86 word (but sadly it only scales up to 8way AFAIK. Compare that to UltraSparc, whose hardware could theoretically scale up to 64k processors, and routinely scales up to 64).

    More of the same: when you go to the computers manifacturers sell as "servers", the CPU cost is actually tiny when compared to the whole system. Usually you have custom-built motherboards with nifty monitoring features, custom-tailored cases to go with the custom motherboards. You have to have ECC RAM, actually lots of it, and the controllers that go with that. Two redundant power supplies, willya? And then a battery-backupped RAID controller, or RAID will be no good at all. And of course the disks, all of them UW160SCSI, and usually you have a support contract with replacement clauses for them. That is, unless you go with shared fibre-channel or whatever else. As an afterthought, redundant NICs also add some.
    In all of this, the CPUs weight actually less than 10% of the total hardware cost for your typical x86 "server".

    If you also add redundancy (you need to double the server to get decent availability of course), and costs because of downtime (no x86 server comes with hot-plug CPUs or memory AFAIK, and only a few have hot-plug power supplies, while most have hot-plug HDDs), well in these conditions you'll find that alphas or sparcs or mips actually come pretty cheap, bang for buck.
  • The P3-Xeon is sort of the best thing out there in the x86 word (but sadly it only scales up to 8way AFAIK.

    Data General have been shipping 32-way Xeon boxes for some time now, in the form of their AV25000 [dg.com] server. They're also about to release the 64-way AV35000 [dg.com] shortly. Obviously, that all comes with redundant power, cooling, storage etc. They run DG/UX, or NT, but if you run NT, you can only use 4 of the CPUs at once :-) You can always run multiple system images on one box, but each NT image can only access 4 CPUs. Naturally, DG/UX can use the whole machine...

  • The soon-to-be-released win2k-Datacenter should be able to handle 16 CPUs (or was it 8?). Windows NT 4.0 should be able to manage 8.
  • Damn. That is NT 4.0 Terminal Server Edition.
    Sorry.
  • Lukewarm response? Well, I can't say I blame the market... A laptop that runs 11 hours... but at 1/10 the speed? =p

    Well, I have to admit I love Transmeta for how they are stirring things up in the CPU market. At the same time, having been closely affected by their recent recall [slashdot.org], I shudder at the thought of their name being put right next to "code-morphing chips"...

    Me:I just wanted to compile the 2.4 kernel...
    It:Here you go - (hands me win32)

    Yes, I'm just kidding, but... hey, the possibilities are endless...
  • AMD's Sledgehammer "simulator is quite slow. It runs at speeds like PCs 15 years ago," said a source with a software company, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

    This is referring to their existing simulator, not the Transmeta one. And at any rate, for the purpose of optimizing your software (especially server software where you don't need to make the kind of subjective evaluations about screen refresh being fast enough like you do in a game) you don't need a processor that runs at full speed, you just need to be able to profile your software to identify which loops are eating up too many cycles, etc.
  • What they're saying is that the software simulator that AMD has available today is incredibly slow -- hence the relationship with Transmeta to do essentially an emulator in hardware, and allow faster development.
  • From the article: AMD's Sledgehammer "simulator is quite slow. It runs at speeds like PCs 15 years ago," said a source with a software company, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

    So... there's no way of telling how well your code is actually performing? Nice step forwards with regards to translatable code and stuff, but you wouldn't exactly develop a 3d engine on a 386 these days...


    Actually, this is the performance of the systems they sent out about a year ago. Their hopes are that the Transmeta based systems will be faster and make up for that 'speed' problem.

    Bryan R.

"More software projects have gone awry for lack of calendar time than for all other causes combined." -- Fred Brooks, Jr., _The Mythical Man Month_

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