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It's (Almost) Hammer Time 344

thelizman writes "C|Net is catching up on the buzz with AMD's Hammer line of processors. Of note in the article is how AMD demonstrated their 64-bit contender using Linux and Windows, instead of just Windows. In reality, Linux will likely have 64 bit applications more quickly than Microsoft, and will see use on this processor more readily than your average WinTel machine, so you only makes sense."
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It's (Almost) Hammer Time

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  • ...that AMD knows which way the, I mean...which way the wind blows.
  • not comedians, taco...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @06:17PM (#3073765)
    come with an ice pick? Cuz you're gonna need a solid block of ice to cool the damn thing. It IS an AMD, afterall.
  • cf: IA64 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bugnuts ( 94678 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @06:18PM (#3073779) Journal
    The 64-bit x-86 hasn't been welcomed as warmly, primarily due to backward compatibility issues. Definitely having the source and being able to recompile Linux apps will give the Linux folks a jump out the gate for 64-bit apps.

    In general, I doubt strongly this is a AMD vs Intel issue, either. This is a Windows (and their legacy users) vs Linux (and their overly prideful users that must find every method to berate windows). :)
  • by Talisman ( 39902 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @06:19PM (#3073785) Homepage
    You can't touch this!

    • Considering how hot AMDs run, who would want to touch it?!
      • I sometimes keep my case open and once in a while i'll touch-test my T-bird 1200 and Slot Athlon 500 (from back in the day) to see if my temp monitor is lying to me. they aren't too hot...really...I don't get burned or anything. Well, unless i leave the fan off but Tom [] told us that already.
  • by PM4RK5 ( 265536 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @06:20PM (#3073797)
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but the only versions of windows that I know of that are 64-bit are the 64-bit WinXP and maybe versions of NT (but those were probably for Alpha anyway), which are now outdated.

    There are probably enough people like me that don't want to upgrade to WinXP just for 64-bit (I don't like lots of things about XP, but thats my opinion). So it would seem that Linux with Cross-platform portability (hence, x86-64) will have a better chance at propagating (spelling?) itself in to this market faster than windows.

    Just my opinions, not to be taken as fact.
    • FYI, Windows NT 3.51 and 4.0 on the Alpha were 32 bit still, not 64 bit. It was some sort of backward comaptibility 32 bit hack thing done with the compiler. (Aside: Anyone remeber FX/32 on the Alpha?)

      - NT code isn't 64 bit safe. 2000/XP I'm not sure of.
      - the 64 bit port of NT was developed on the Alpha, initially anyway, and then ported to the Itanium.
      - Alpha Linux has always been 64 bit. One of the earlier kernels had to be extensively revised to be 64 bit safe in order to run on the Alpha.


      (O/T - The Alphas still killed the Intel machines at the time with MHz as well as memory and I/O bandwidth, which is why we used them. Oh well.)
    • by sean23007 ( 143364 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @07:20PM (#3074373) Homepage Journal
      You may well be right. In fact, this could be AMD's way to get back at Microsoft. For so long, MS and Intel have been sleeping together, both helping eath other out in each other's industries, forcing the other computer manufacturers to use their products in computers.

      In the transition to 64 bits, if AMD can get there faster (and by there, I mean readily available to the consumer, not readily available to the bored millionaire), they can enlist Linux as their Microsoft and do the same thing to the market that has been happening for a decade: only with a free OS.

      Actually, I wouldn't mind, and I don't think many would.
      • ...this could be AMD's way to get back at Microsoft. For so long, MS and Intel have been sleeping together, both helping eath other out in each other's industries, forcing the other computer manufacturers to use their products in computers. In the transition to 64 bits, if AMD can get there faster (and by there, I mean readily available to the consumer, not readily available to the bored millionaire), they can enlist Linux as their Microsoft and do the same thing to the market that has been happening for a decade: only with a free OS.

        It's not nearly so subtle as that, it's recognition of Linux's huge position in the server market, where prices are high and 64 bits is a significant win for file caching.
    • by inburito ( 89603 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @07:42PM (#3074551)
      What would you benefit from running a 64bit platform?

      Key applications for 64bit computing are more or less involved with anything that requires a huge amount of memory. Servers(massive databases), high-end engineering(airplanes, ships, etc.) and scientific computing come into my mind.

      In these kind of applications and systems you're not concerned whether or not you like windows xp but rather: how cost effective is it and what is the performance advantage?

      Unless your computers memory capacity is exhausted(what, 4 gigs is not enough for everyone?) and it is crunching numbers on full load 24/7 I don't see too many reasons aside the coolness factor to even consider 64bit computing. Heck, smp systems would make much more sense in most of the cases.

      • '640K^H^H^H^H 4 gigs is more memory than anyone will ever need.'

    • FWIW, there are several "AMD64" conditional #defines in the Windows XP DDK.

      It's been pointed out for ages in the NT Insider Newsletter.

      My guess is: Microsoft doesn't work in a fishbowl like the Mozilla team does; but it must not cost them much to keep an IA-64->x86-64 port of XP64 ready, just in case (especially since I guesstimate the HAL should merely be a hybrid of x86 and IA-64, the compiler an extension of the x86 logic (much less difficult than VLIW and much well understood), and the code above HAL, once 64-bit clean, is (reportedly) written in compiled, not assembled, languages).

  • hammer time (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ziggy_zero ( 462010 )
    yeah, i've been waiting for this for a loooong time. god knows my next cad machine will be a dual sledgehammer. btw, sledgehammer is the multiprocessor one right? and the clawhammer is the single?
    • Re:hammer time (Score:2, Informative)

      Clawhammer supports either single processor or dual processor operation. Sledgehammer supports 4 and 8 way multiprocessing.

      I plan to get a 2 processor Clawhammer box myself, it's the only reason I haven't upgraded for the past year. I'm bored of having a mainstream PC (P3 550MHz, don't ask...) after using a StrongARM/NetBSD box for a few years. Time for something novel and exciting - dual processor new fangled chip sounds like just the thing...

  • Cuz its AMD... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jhaberman ( 246905 )
    Ever notice, that once you break away from the WinTel monopolies... things just progress differently? I don't personally use Linux. I haven't had the time to sit down and really get into it. That doesn't mean that I don't like to see it gaining more run from hardware manufacturers and in the press. Competition always has, and always will be a good thing.

    Not to mention, 64 bit processing on a desktop would be reason enough for me to quit putting it off!

  • by guiding_knight ( 550855 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @06:21PM (#3073805) Homepage
    Intel's Itanium processors handle 64-bit chips, but the Pentium family handles 32-bit applications. Sources have said that the company has a hybrid version, code-named Yamhill, in its labs.
    I realize that 64 bit computing is the rage now, but why not start with the hybrid? At least it would be compatible with today's progs.

    I do like the fact that AMD is planning on using "a smooth migration path to the 64-bit software of tomorrow", so we wont have to rewrite much of anything. Besides, I still like my old DOS games :)
    • So they can continue push the P4's. Intel doesn't want to compete with itself (remember the Tualatin (sp?)?) I just find it funny that they spend so much time bashing AMD's approach but on the other hand they have a backup in case they're wrong.
    • I realize that 64 bit computing is the rage now, but why not start with the hybrid? At least it would be compatible with today's progs.

      That's where linux has the advantage. Todays progs can jump straight to 64bit by the standard
      make install

      So maybe it isn't point and click, but it is 64bit clean and ready to run.
    • As I understand it, Itanium and XP-64 will be able to run Win32 aps, but it will actually be more slowly than the same 64 bit apps, or the same 32 bit apps on a 32 bit processor (I'm sure I've got that bass ackwards, but who cares).

      Honestly, IMHO it seems that hybrid or "bridge" products meant to serve as vaseline for new technologies (allowing you to ease into it : ) usually wind up delaying the newer technologies and adding cost to the eventual transition. Apple did'nt write OS-X up to handle MacOS 9.1 apps, and in less than a year they've caught up with core products to an enthusiastic response from Mac users everywhere.
  • by maelstrom ( 638 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @06:22PM (#3073810) Homepage Journal
    So is 64-bit for a normal user going to do much? I can definately see how some servers are pushing the 2^32 memory limit (2^36 with some hacks), but I find it harder to justify how I'll use it.

    I don't do much 3D rendering other than some gaming action, and my multimedia is limited to playing some MP3s while I'm coding with vim. Are there any other compelling reasons for a 64-bit arch? I suppose I could load more data in registers, storing two 32-bits into one 64-bit register.... but i'm drawing a blank... someone help :)

    • So is 64-bit for a normal user going to do much?

      Extra computer power will always find a way to get used up in frivolous ways by the sex trade, trust me.

    • Are there any other compelling reasons for a 64-bit arch?

      Of course -- you can double your RC5 throughput and dazzle your friends. :)

    • Well the normal could do fine with a pentium 200 and 64 megs of ram.

      64bit is for the power user, people who want gigs of ram, huge harddrives, people who trade media like dvd movies, who edit movies, who play games, who run alot of programs at the same time, or who just want more speed, they want state of the art.
    • by renoX ( 11677 )
      64-bit on the desktop is next to useless IMHO, but the Hammer brings also many goodies:
      - it's fast
      - there are additional registers available which should help compilers quite a lot (avoiding false dependencies: more opportunities for executing more instructions at the same time)
      - it's fast.

      Ok maybe you could say that you don't need such speed, but the games you play don't look like Final Fantasy (the movie) and your opponents could really be smarter and I suspect that a good AI is very,very CPU-consuming.

    • It doesn't matter whether people need it or not. In a few years AMD will be making only 64-bit CPUs, so people will buy them and run them in 32-bit mode.
  • Late (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I remember a couple years ago that OS X was going to be the next big thing with this or that feature, but no one had actually seen it. This went on for a couple years.

    AMD's Hammer is the same way. We all wait with bated breath for the new processor to drop, but no one's seen it yet. It's surely not vapor because we know it's on its way, but how long do we need to wait? How far into the future should these things be announced.

    Hammer has been announced far too long in the past to be of any interest these days.

    Let's wait until it actually gets released and then discuss further.
    • I know the article was terse, but it did say that they had this hammer chip running in a box at a trade show. That seems close enough to release to warrant us talking about it, especially when several key decisions need to be made now. For example, should we take the architecture seriously enough to try to optimize current software for it so they're ready when it's released? Windows seems to still be saying "no" and Linux people think "yes".

      I hope that with your "don't give it a thought until it's released" attitude you never get promoted to be a manager of some kind. You would suck!

  • ...when will there be motherboards that support it?

    Windows 2000/XP stable? safe? secure? 5 lines of simple C code say otherwise! []
    • The current roadmap says availability of the chip in Q4, so you'd have to assume Q4 or Q1/03 for motherboards.
  • by Magnusite ( 526038 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @06:24PM (#3073834)
    Argh, is this going to add yet ANOTHER set of addressing modes? Now we will have:

    mov ah, #1
    mov ax, #1
    mov eax, #1
    mov eeax, #1

    Seriously, I wonder how they have modified the register addressing field of the instructions to handle this.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Shouldn't we forget 64 bit and go straight for 256 bit processor? Studies show that 4 out of 5 dentist prefer 256 bit processors.
  • by MicroBerto ( 91055 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @06:25PM (#3073843)
    so you only makes sense."
    When a user submits a good link, but includes lame garbage like this at the end, do you think you could modify it to look a bit better?

    I'm not sure which is better journalism though... on one end, you're looking more professional by not having stupid 14-year-old-girl talk on the front page. On the other end, you're cutting up someone's quote!

    I'd rather have it look nicer.

  • by JPriest ( 547211 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @06:29PM (#3073874) Homepage
    Kevin McGrath (AMD senior tech) gave a great presentation at Stanford on the Hammer and how AMD took on many design concepts of the X86-64 architecture. This was probably one of the more informative lectures I have seen on the topic. The video is long though 00927_ee380_OnDemand_100_100K_320x240.htm
  • would a 32-bit emulation mode be plausible on a 64-bit machine? I'm guessing it would be have to be an app at the OS level.
    • There's a Pentium-compatible chip built into every Itanium. I guess that's one approach to "emulation." :-)

      Windows 2000/XP stable? safe? secure? 5 lines of simple C code say otherwise! []
    • Re:32-bit emulation? (Score:2, Interesting)

      by delta407 ( 518868 )

      Directly from the article:

      The Hammer family of processors will differ from other AMD chips--and other Intel processors--in that they will be able to run conventional 32-bit applications found on Windows PCs today as well as 64-bit applications.

      Perhaps we should read the article before we all run off and post ;-)

  • by JayDoggy ( 200317 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @06:33PM (#3073920) Homepage
    AMD seemed for a while to be winning the price point war, getting to market at an extremely competitive cost for cutting edge hardware. According to my recent price-watching [], however, this advantage seems to be diminishing, as Intel's lately been getting more competitive in their pricing in reaction to this. Maybe they're just going after the next buzzword in hopes of beating Intel at it's own game.
    • .18^2 / .13^2 = 1.91 means that AMD are producing chips at approximately double cost compared to .13 technology, which Intel is now using in their Northwood P4s. Expect AMD to be just holding the ground they've gained until they can make their own transition, it just doesn't make business sense to start the price war now.

  • by ejoe_mac ( 560743 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @06:44PM (#3074041)
    AMD: Takes an existing archetecture and extends it with an excellent talent pool of engineers that speak in 64 bit.

    Intel: Buys its way out of a lawsuit for stealing 64bit microcode from the DEC Alpha, then buy's the Alpha from Compaq to discontinue it. Then create a brand new 64 bit chip using their own limited talent, while shoving the existing 64 bit platfrom into an early grave.

    Does this make sence to anyone? Alpha's rock, and they have been 64 bit for years. There already was versions of Win2k, Linux and Unix in addition to major apps like SAP and Oracle tuned for the platform.

    • Winsows NT was ported to alpha, 2k was never (or at least never released).
    • If I remember correctly, one of the things AMD picked up from the Alpha Engineers was memoryCPU tech that has already been used on the MP boards. Each CPU has it's own memory link, so they don't fight or clog one.

      AFAIK Alphas died because of business problems, not technical ones.
    • Then buy's the Alpha from Compaq to discontinue it.
      That happened after development started on Itanium, not before.
      Then create a brand new 64 bit chip using their own limited talent,
      Actually, they used a lot of HP's limited talent. Remember that development of this chip was a team effort between Intel and HP.
  • Has anyone else noticed that the one-screen article about AMD's Hammer line of processors on C|Net is far shorter than C|Net's Intel Itanium article it links to?

    The AMD article is a simple response to a press release. The Intel article is a prose editorial about the state of the industry and where Intel's new processors (might) fit in.
    • Because Hammer is nothing to write about. It's a 64 bit x86. Whee. Itanium is a completely different beast. There's a hell of a lot more to write about about the new Itanium archetecture and it's possiblilities than just taking x86 to 64 bit.
  • by Namarrgon ( 105036 ) on Tuesday February 26, 2002 @07:13PM (#3074320) Homepage
    Can anyone confirm if Win64 is definitely being released for the Hammer?

    The PR is vague enough to be interpreted as "running a 64-bit version of Linux as well as [plain old 32 bit] Microsoft Windows". I've asked AMD flat out, and they will not commit to saying yes, Win64 will be coming to the Hammer party. MS certainly haven't mentioned it, AFAIK.

    As a film/video FX developer, we'd love the massive memory space & 64 bit registers that Hammer brings. But as a [currently] Windows-only app, Linux-64 isn't helpful (except possibly for a few customers' render farms).

    Our code is 64-bit clean, we have a working Itanium port, but we haven't sold a copy yet. We have customers who need multigigabytes of RAM & the speed of an Athlon to process it all, yet don't have the spare kilobux to justify dedicating a dual Itanium to a single app (it's all but useless for 32 bit apps at Winzip level & up).

    So... rumours, anyone? Hard facts? Tidbits, gossip, insider info?

    • They've not gotten there yet, to the best of my knowlege. It might be time, if your company's a major customer for that app of yours, to talk them into doing a Linux version of the application- they'll thank you for it because it'll run on anything Linux does.
      • he asked if anyone had any insider info or knowledge about it.

        what would qualify you to know wether or not microsoft has windows running on x86-64 ?

        do you work at amd ? do you work at MS ? i suspect that at either of those places, you wouldn't be allowed to talk about it if they _did_ have it working.

        he asked for insider info on the status of win64 on amdx86-64, and you give him a post about porting his software to linux.

        so, what reason do you have to belive that you know what the status/existance of that project may or may not be ?

      • My company's the developer of that app of mine. And a Linux-64 port would leave our customers with the same problem they have with Itaniums - no way to run their other Win32 apps.
  • How sad it is that by the time MS got their consumer operating system completly out of 16 bit land that 64 bit consumer computers are coming into play. How long will it be before their consumer OS is 64 bit? Another 8 years?
  • Just wanted to see if anyone could give me some pointers, explination, or URLs to find out.

    As we go over 2GHz, and from 32 to 64 bit, bus speed is going up (good), memory seems to be creeping up on speed (RAM that is)....

    But what about hard drive access speeds? They don't seem to be getting faster at the same rate as everything else. And, the only think I seem to ever be "waiting" for using my 32bit 1Ghz system is reading something from the hard drive.

  • by pointwood ( 14018 ) <> on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @06:21AM (#3076610) Homepage

    Anandtech has posted an article with lots of information and pictures Right here [].

Can anyone remember when the times were not hard, and money not scarce?