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Comment Re:How soon until x86 is dropped? (Score 1) 147 147

Sure, if we imagine that vendor X comes up with something implausibly advanced (scaling software to 1024 cores is hard, which is why single thread performance still matters), and intel actually goes backwards (you can buy a 32 core intel blade today) instead of developing new tech, then sure, vendor X can win.

Though nobody would buy it if it were tied to a single-vendor version of linux. BTDT, it sucks.

Comment Re:How soon until x86 is dropped? (Score 1) 147 147

" Intel's least demand, lowest margin customers are ARM's high margin most demanding customers"

This is where I think you're wrong. The phones & the tablets are where the money is, the chromebooks are an uninteresting sideshow for the ARM vendors just as much as for Intel. There's no way they're making the same money on $200 netbooks as they are on $700 phones. They're also not putting any R&D into that segment, it just happens to move along with cobbled-together parts. It's not a path to anything.

"I can easily imagine a future generation of SOC for systems with keyboards as much as they are useful in today's tablets."

You seem to misunderstand. Of course systems are getting more integrated--the question is whether consumers are interested in buying a server whose hardware is completely different than the server they bought six months ago, which needs completely different core drivers, can't boot the same kernel, etc. It's not in the consumer's interest to have that degree of vendor customization in the desktop and server markets. I already pointed out that Intel actually derives a competitive advantage from standardized SOCs: their competitors have to be better engineered just to overcome intel's process advtantage. E.g., you need to have a singificantly better 28nm 10GBE implementation to be more power efficient than intel's 14nm implementation. Is that likely? Can the ARM server vendor outperform intel's CPU, and outperform intel's best in class networking, and outperform intel's fairly solid storage controllers, and outperform intel's pcie controllers, and outperform intel's memory controllers, etc.? That's a lot of R&D, and none of the competitors have that kind of head count.

Don't get me wrong--I'd love to see ARM as a strong competition to intel in the server space. But watching how fast intel has pivoted, how quickly and reliably they deliver on new tech, and how slow and underwhelming the ARM vendors have been, I just don't see it as likely.

Comment Re:How soon until x86 is dropped? (Score 1) 147 147

But the main reason they can sell anything in step iii is that intel doesn't care about those customers. It's not clear that ARM vendors are actually making much money on those products, and if intel cut its profit margin (i.e., if they cared enough about that particular market to actually go after it) then the ARM products would be economically untenable. There simply isn't a fundamental advantage there for the ARM vendors to take advantage of: their advantage is cost, and that's because intel has *decided* not to lower prices that much. Again, ARM's marginal power advantage simply doesn't matter on a typical laptop because the CPU isn't the most power-hungry part. (Unless you're crunching numbers, but then you probably want to have a faster chip even if it uses more power.) Even on phones the advantage of ARM is less about power consumption than the fact that you can configure an ARM SOC any way you want it--while intel has basically no interest in licensing its most advanced IP so that OEMs can build custom SOCs. The limitations of that strategy are clear--ARM hardware is basically disposable once the initial OS becomes obsolete, because nobody cares about engineering updates for old products--and I just don't see custom SOC being a driver for laptops/desktops/servers. Those markets demand more standardized hardware, and that brings us back to ARM competing toe-to-toe with intel. For the niches where hardware coprocessors really matter, intel has phi for HPC and quickassist for crypto/compression/DSP/etc.

Comment Re:How soon until x86 is dropped? (Score 1) 147 147

Yes, ARM is used in a lot of phones. A phone chip is very different than a server chip. The question is whether any ARM vendor has the money to do *general purpose server* R&D in competition with intel. So far, everyone who has tried has either crashed & burned or provided fairly disappointing results. What they have going for them is power efficiency, which matters in embedded solutions (think raspberry pi & smaller) but isn't that compelling on full size laptops, desktops, or servers--saving a few watts over an intel solution doesn't matter when the screen, memory, and communications consume more power than the CPU. (Side note--intel has a material advantage here by integrating some of the power-hungry components like 10GBE on silicon that's one or two generations ahead in terms of process compared to the ARM competition.) ARM seems firmly in the region of diminishing returns--they can't consume less than 0, so there just isn't that much more to cut. Intel has room to improve, and with the money they can throw at things, they will--to the extent that makes sense. In most applications single thread performance is still more relevant than a very high number of cores. So intel's current strategy is to be reasonably power efficient, integrate components in a compelling fashion, but not sacrifice too much single thread performance. So with D-1540 you get integrated 10GBE, integrated SATA, integrated DDR4, & 8 fairly powerful cores. The ARM vision is to deliver 48 slower cores, for a total package that's a little more power efficient and roughly on-par performance-wise for embarassingly parallel applications (of which there are few). Given how many distinct architectures intel has delivered over the past few years, I'm pretty confident that, if high-scaling applications actually materialize, intel will be able to crank out a new SKU faster than any ARM vendor will be able to explit the niche, bascially by scaling up avoton. (The successor to that architecture, denverton, is due out at the end of this year, probably with 16 cores & integrated 10GBE on a 14nm process.)

Comment Re:How soon until x86 is dropped? (Score 1) 147 147

Have you been watching Intel's product releases? Intel decided a couple of years ago that they weren't going to let ARM have the low-power server market and completely retooled their product line, starting with the avoton server line (C2xxx) and following up with the D-15xx family. (Remember how AMD keeps talking about interest from data centers? D-1540 retail availability has been tight for months because some major datacenter providers have bought essentially *all* of them...) Watching how fast Intel was able to change course and deliver products that beat the ARM *roadmap* in that timeframe (let alone delivered products) made me abandon hopes that ARM might have a serious presence in the server market. Intel just has too much R&D money & process tech for any existing competitor to go toe-to-toe with them in a segment they decide to invest in.

Comment Re:I was thinking of "high end" in terms of (Score 1) 147 147

The memory thing was basically "dial-a-pricepoint". I remember machines with a base price on the order of $5k, with $10k+ of memory (which was less than you probably have in your phone).

I'm also amused whenever one of these sparc nostalgia threads comes up, because the way I remember things the cool kids had the SGIs and DECs and the Suns were kinda the lame/cheap crap, basically the PCs of the UNIX world. They exploded during the .com bubble because you could buy those (honestly, horribly designed internally) pizza boxes by the pallet load so a generation of kids came up thinking that was the only thing that existed due to their sheer numbers.

Comment Re:Yeah, Debian is sooo popular on Intel.... (Score 2) 147 147

If it's so easy, why don't you take over the port and show us how it's done? Debian has been very up front for years now that the sparc port was on its way out due to lack of interest; if anyone really cared, they would have stepped up to maintain it. The problem here isn't that it's impossible, or even a theoretical challenge, the problem is that the sparc hardware in general isn't really all that great and there isn't really a compelling reason to use it when people are literally throwing out higher-spec'd x86 gear. Only on the highest end is the sparc line potentially interesting, and nobody spends that much money to run a research project as an OS; by the time the hardware is available to hobbyist developers it's obsolete--and again, why bother plugging in a really power-hungry system and spend years developing for a platform that, by the time it's usable, will be outperformed by tomorrow's junk?

Comment Re:Hmm that sounds familiar (Score 2) 123 123

I suggest looking into lambda circuits/lambda switching. The path between the customer and the provider is not shared, and can be reconfigured to switch providers. What is shared between customers are the links from the provider's point of presence to the provider's backbone to the internet, and the quality of those links is one of the things that providers can use to differentiate their service. The scarce resource is space at the handover point between the utility and the provider, and that's something that would have to be regulated. But it's a fixed cost based on physical space, not on per-byte counts or somesuch.

Comment Re:Hmm that sounds familiar (Score 4, Insightful) 123 123

No, the optimal solution is to treat the wires as a public utility and permit competition in providing the data. Let the consumers pick between NAT'd filtered consumer internet for one price or raw IP for another price or caps or 80% bandwidth pricing, good peering or cheap peering, etc. In no case should there be regulated pricing per GB, because that eliminates a lot of other pricing models and options that the customer should be able to pick based on requirements.

Comment Re:It never worked properly anyway... (Score 1) 142 142

They're down to about $25 on ebay these days. How much support to you honestly think you're going to get? A heck of a lot of people have chromecasts which connect to their network just fine. So while it's possible that the chromecast is fundamentally broken, it's more likely that there's an incompatibility between your access point and the chromecast. I'd tend to suspect the AP more than the chromecast based on general experience with those vendors. Is your AP even getting firmware updates anymore? Do the updates address issues with the radio & low level functions like association & rekeying, or only high level issues like "gui doesn't load properly"? Assuming that it is an issue with the AP, how much money should google spend trying to work around the issue?

Comment Re:So will Android M... (Score 1) 106 106

That's your car's fault, not your phone's. The manufacturers lock into a particular proprietary technology and then you're stuck. FWIW, you'd be stuck with a idevice also as apple updates their interface spec.

What cars really need is a more abstract vendor-neutral interface. (Like a universally implemented USB HID class coupled with a video interface.) Then we wouldn't be stuck with whatever the manufacturer thought was neat 5 years ago.

"Gravitation cannot be held responsible for people falling in love." -- Albert Einstein