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AMD Microsoft

Microsoft Commits to Using Opteron 397

the_1000th_Monkey writes "According these articles at The Inquirer, Infoworld, and The Register Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 will support AMD's 64-bit Opteron processor. Beta releases can be expected in the middle of this year. Here is MS's official press release."
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Microsoft Commits to Using Opteron

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  • Impostor! (Score:5, Funny)

    by sql*kitten ( 1359 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @04:23PM (#5695634)
    Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 will support AMD's 64-bit Opteron processor. Beta releases can be expected in the middle of this year.

    A slashdot story where Microsoft are the good guys! What have you done with the real Timothy?! Taco! Help, Taco!!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @04:25PM (#5695656)


    64-bit Blue Screen of Death!

    • "Coming soon... 64-bit Blue Screen of Death!"

      SLASHDOT!

      With special guest star: Bob Saget!

      (if you're about to mod me as off-topic, then let me explain: his joke was obvious an unfunny, not unlike some of the commentary on America's Funniest Home Videos.)
  • by TrollBridge ( 550878 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @04:26PM (#5695672) Homepage Journal
    Guess those of you who thought Microsoft was going to take over the world with the dastardly assistance from Intel better get back to the drawing board.

    And does this make AMD part of the Axis of Evil now?

  • Any Doubt? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheFlyingGoat ( 161967 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @04:27PM (#5695686) Homepage Journal
    Was there any doubt that this would happen? Since MS is running on about a 3-5 year Server cycle, the next server release would happen around 2008. I would assume that most high end servers and many workstations would have 64 bit processors by this time. It just makes sense that MS would support the 64 bit processor being released by the 2nd largest processor company.
    • by Master Bait ( 115103 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @04:53PM (#5696059) Homepage Journal
      Is like I see it. They're already losing out to Linux and BSD on the server side of things. Now they didn't even get their act together enough to have something for the Opteron launch.

      By the time their crappy server OS does get launched, they will be facing an entrenched group of free OSs that have 100% market share.

    • Re:Any Doubt? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by hackstraw ( 262471 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @04:57PM (#5696117)
      I'm not that familiar with any MS products, but when I was talking to HP about buying an Itanium, they were saying how HPUX and Linux ran fine on the Itaniums and that they were "waiting for MS to get their act together". To which I assumend that XP did not run well on the Itaniums.

      Why is it that they won't support existing 64bit technologies (Itanium, Alpha's back in the day), but their gung ho for yet another x86 hack?
      • Re:Any Doubt? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by rodgerd ( 402 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @06:04PM (#5696806) Homepage
        x86-64 is scarecly a hack, it's a pretty significant re-engineering effort that actually addresses many of the complaints about the ia32 architecture (like register starvation).

        As for why WinXP doesn't play well on the Itanium - it's a hard problem. The ia64 architecture is completely new and is using a lot of concepts which are not well understood. It relies very, very heavily on compilers being tailored for it - there are still huge performance gaps between the various compilers claiming ia64 as a target (HP, for example, are still running 20-30% better than Intel's compiler).

        Intel have screwed themselves here - their product is too radical a shift to make it easy for vendors to adapt.
      • Re:Any Doubt? (Score:3, Informative)

        by sheldon ( 2322 )
        "Why is it that they won't support existing 64bit technologies (Itanium, Alpha's back in the day), but their gung ho for yet another x86 hack?"

        Huh... Windows 2003 supports the Itanium already.

      • Re:Any Doubt? (Score:3, Informative)

        by tshak ( 173364 )
        NT has been running on Alpha's since NT4 (or maybe even 3.51 AFAIK).
  • Whooo....neat! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mahdi13 ( 660205 ) <icarus.lnx@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @04:27PM (#5695691) Journal
    Amazing...even will have a version for the full 64bit (not using the 32bit compatability...much)

    I can't find any information if Win2k3 has support for Intels Itanium 64bit processor...You'd think it would considering MS and Intel spend every night in bed together
    • Intel would love to screw microsoft [theinquirer.net] but I think Microsoft had a headake for a while and intel doesnt impress it any more.
    • I can't find any information if Win2k3 has support for Intels Itanium 64bit processor...You'd think it would considering MS and Intel spend every night in bed together.

      Well, MS is now the master of a three-way, and AMD is getting more attention in bed now because AMD's CEO strongly supported Microsoft during the congressional hearings on MS's monopoly.

      I too would think there would be something on the Itanium, but maybe Intel really is missing the boat big time. More applications will soon need larger me
  • .... it will be a while before the software catches up ....


    Just my $0.02 cents ...

    • by brejc8 ( 223089 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @04:34PM (#5695797) Homepage Journal
      Actually I think the programs be ready before the OS's. The inquirer [theinquirer.net] has a long list of 'The willing'.

      For instance, there are five varieties of Linux, three BSDs, Beowulf and Windows in the offing. Most of them have either already been released or are due to be released at the Opteron launch.

      Database support is strong with IBM's DB2 leading the field; CA Ingres, Oracle and MS SQL Server are all set to follow.

    • .... it will be a while before the software catches up ....

      And once there's an operating system and microprocessor in place (maybe even mainstream), then there will be a viable market for 64-bit applications.

      No point in writing software if no platform can run it.
    • by RexRuther ( 221243 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @04:41PM (#5695890) Homepage Journal
      The whole point of AMD's 64 bit chip is to allow both 64 bit and old/current 32 bit apps to run together smoothly.

      Can't wait for the desktop version.
      • I can't wait for the current crop of fast 32 bit parts to flood eBay for pennies on the dollar, when the 'early adopters' start stumbling onto the new platform.

        If that hardware lasts long enough to be resellable. The MBAs have intruded into the design labs at most companies, and if something lasts long enough to actually 'become obsolete' it means the design team needs to be punished for overdesigning the product.
    • For most software, it really doesnt matter. The big thing is the 4 gig memory ceiling on a 32 bit app. It's not really so much a speed issue. 64 bit computing wont make a game or AIM or email any better. All that stuff can just run along happily in 32 bit mode.

      SQL Server will ship a 64 bit native version, this is one of the few apps I know of that can really make use of a 64 bit system right now.

      I see this as something to help shove some big iron out of giant datacentres, but it hardly affects the ave
      • by Dan Ost ( 415913 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @04:54PM (#5696084)
        A game compiled for x86-64 will run significantly
        faster since there are more general purpose
        registers available to it. So even if it doesn't
        make use of 64-bit ops, it will still run faster.

        The same game compiled for x86 and run on an
        x86-64 will not see the same improvement since
        it won't take advantage of the extra registers.

        According to an interview posted on Slashdot
        recently (karma op for anyone who wants to hunt
        down the link), several current games recompiled
        for x86-64 but not tweaked in any way, experienced
        a 30% increase in performance because of the
        extra registers.
        • by zealot ( 14660 ) <xzealot54x@yahoo. c o m> on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @06:17PM (#5696894)
          Your comments are misleading. The extra registers CAN improve performance when code is compiled to use them, but will not necessarily. AMD has previously quoted numbers that the expect to get about 15% additional performance with code that used the registers over code that does not. However, we do not know which apps they're using...

          Also, I believe that interview you mention does talk about a 30% increase in performance, but it does NOT say it is from the registers (I can't find the link to the interview). It's not very clear what they were comparing to, but if I remeber correctly it looked like they were comparing to a regular Athon. Thus, the 30% increase would be coming from a) a new core with micro-architectural enhancements b) onboard memory controller c) extra registers.
          • by nitehorse ( 58425 ) <clee@c133.org> on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @07:09PM (#5697233)
            The article was at Ars Technica, and it was about the Counter-Strike server, not the actual video game.

            However, the 30% speed improvement was NOT over an Athlon. They took the 32-bit binaries, benchmarked them on the Opteron, and then they recompiled the code for the x86-64 target (without changing a single line) and benchmarked it again, and there was a 30% speed improvement.

            That's pretty impressive if you ask me. Granted, the server side does most of the physics logic and such, and not graphics, but I'm optimistic about just how much the increase in raw CPU power is going to help gaming out.
      • by Goonie ( 8651 )
        The way it's going, it won't be that long before they require that much RAM to be playable...and that's just on the graphics card...

        Which brings me to another point. What happens to buses and whatnot with the x86-64? Has AMD been quietly working away on a 64-bit replacement to AGP? Will we get rid of special graphics buses and go to a next-generation bus standard all round? Or will there be a collection of compatibility hacks to make it all work with existing graphics cards. Anybody care to speculate?

    • .... it will be a while before the software catches up ....

      For the "interesting" software, it's just a recompile away. 64 bit computing is already the norm in high-performance computing. The huge address space is one of the strongest selling point of the RISC vendors. Mere performance isn't any longer.

      The cultural changes of 64 bit computing (e.g. you can memory-map any file for reading it, and many of them) will take ages to materialize ubiquitously, however.
  • A bit late (Score:3, Informative)

    by brejc8 ( 223089 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @04:29PM (#5695723) Homepage Journal
    It will be annoying when they do release the opterons and there is no (64bit) software to run on them. Sort of buy a system, install a 32bit os and then a few months later reinstall it.
    Also I think many people will be dissapointed with the 32bit performance and AMD might get a bad name for it.
    • Re:A bit late (Score:5, Informative)

      by JJAnon ( 180699 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @04:41PM (#5695887)
      Also I think many people will be dissapointed with the 32bit performance and AMD might get a bad name for it. I disagree. I've spoken to some people who work in the Windows server team, and they have told me that 32 bit performance has been almost as good on the Opterons as on 32 bit processors. And the 64 bit version of Windows is very, very fast.

      Microsoft has had access to Opterons for quite a while now, and they seem very eager to push it over Intel's reason for the simple reason that the Opteron allows for legacy programs to work.
    • Something similar happened when Microsoft released Windows 95... Even if that OS isn't pure 32-bit, it ran 32-bit software and was intended for it as well. Still, lots of 16-bit software were floating around with hideous Windows 3.1 interfaces. And Windows 3.1 got this "Win32s" thing for emulating 32-bit apps. :-P

      It was rather ugly IMHO, but it was necessary to move on. :-)
    • It will be annoying when they do release the opterons and there is no (64bit) software to run on them.

      The full Debian distro for Linux, which includes several CDs full of apps, has been available for several months for Itanium. more info [debian.org]
  • Beta-version of Windows 2003 is likely to support a developers-only version of Opteron in 32 bit mode, however, only in case M$ does not discontinue the whole Windows 2003 product line. Sorry.
    • Question (Score:2, Insightful)

      Do you think that writing "M$" makes you look cool? A bad ass perhaps? A lone individual in the great fight against the Evil Empire?

      If you do, you're wrong.

      You're no different than the people who type "Lunix."

      Learn to enjoy civil discourse.

  • it makes sense. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @04:32PM (#5695752)
    with Sun now supporting the Opteron, lending more legitimacy, it was only a matter of time before Microsoft jumped on the bandwagon.

    then again, Microsoft could have been holding on to their press release, and Sun could have jumped on the bandwagon, releasing their press release early in order to beat out Microsoft.

    either way, it really should be a simple matter for Microsoft to support this chip. it is backwards compatible, and they have had 64 bit for quite a while, so the heavy work is already done.
  • Have they made any commitments to Intel's 64 bit processors?
  • Yes, the Sun's [slashdot.org] rays also shine on Microsoft from time to time.

    Heh.
  • I know, stupid question, but an honest one. I'm curious WHY 64-bit is so damn important, and I'm sure others still haven't clued in. Anyone care to post a nice explanation or links or something. Thanks.
    • Why not?

      64 bit instruction set for faster low level functions, faster 64 bit pipes. Good stuff, all around. Will you have an immediate use for it? No. It will eventually replace 32 bit, and you'll be happier. Just like the Pentium replacing the 486, the 386 replacing the 286, it's a move in the right direction.
      • Re:64-bit? Why? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Abcd1234 ( 188840 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @05:04PM (#5696205) Homepage
        64 bit instruction set for faster low level functions, faster 64 bit pipes

        This is just plain wrong. 64-bit words at the CPU level has no direct effect on instruction speed, unless you make tricky optimizations, like packing 32-bit variables into a single 64-bit register and doing operations on them simultaneously (which, in general, isn't that useful, BTW). Yes, there are a couple places where wider registers could be useful (bulk data transfers, etc) but there really aren't that many. Some people have mentioned higher-precision arithmetic, but IMHO, if you need that, you're using the FPU anyway, and thus have had 64-bit (80-bit internally) precision for some time now.

        The main reason the Opteron is a good thing is because 1) it provides MORE registers, allowing the compiler to make smarter register allocations, which can provide drastic performance improvements, and 2) it provides access to a larger address space, meaning you can finally have >4GB of memory without nasty paging hacks. Of these, only the first is really that useful to your average Joe, which is why you're only going to see the Opteron in higher-end workstations and servers for the immediate future... at least, IMHO.
    • Re:64-bit? Why? (Score:5, Informative)

      by reidbold ( 55120 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @04:51PM (#5696036)
      2^32 times the addressing space of 32 bit, so goodbye 4 gig limit. And greater speed / precision ratio. Those are the two biggest points.
    • It's like adding on and making an 4 lane highway into an 8 lane one, it allows you to handle more traffic. For most drivers it doesn't mean they'll get where they're going faster as the same speed limits apply. But a few proffessional ones will find that the extra lanes mean they can utilize the extra space better and drive faster.

      • But a few proffessional ones will find that the extra lanes mean they can utilize the extra space better and drive faster.

        Wow, I didn't realize you got that added bonus. Goodbye Speed Limit!
    • Re:64-bit? Why? (Score:3, Informative)

      by WasterDave ( 20047 )
      Two reasons. 4gig limit, only 2 can actually be used, this is starting to become a real problem blah de blah de blah.

      The more subtle one is that the x86 instruction set is as broken as a broken thing, as we all know, and x86-64 goes some way to fixing that. Particularly in terms of having more registers.

      Dave
      • Re:64-bit? Why? (Score:5, Informative)

        by cgori ( 11130 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @06:41PM (#5697061) Homepage Journal
        Everyone rails on the x86 instruction set. Yeah it's not pretty, it's not fun, hell it's downright ugly. But what are the top SPECint machines these days? Wanna guess? That means something is ok with x86. Yeah it might be hack-on-hack-on-hack but this collection of hacks seems to be working. (They'd be pretty near the top SPECfp's except for Itanium, everyone else's favorite Intel punching bag -- give me a break it has stellar FP, which is what it was made for!)

        More seriously, there are some academic studies around that show that variable-length instructions of the x86 ISA actually are improving performance over fixed-length RISC-style ISAs. Why? Because the instruction density in the cache can be higher, and therefore the I-Cache fill rate doesn't need to be as high. Sure, the I-Decode is a b*tch to design and build, but apparently Intel and AMD are able to run it in about 500ps (~2GHz, or better) in 0.13u and below technology. Not bad, not bad.
    • by biz0r ( 656300 )
      me: dud3 1 g0t 64 b1t CpU!@#!
      friend: 0wnz0r!

      But really, its all said above. Main thing being the memory access problems which current 32bit systems can have.
  • by Submarine ( 12319 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @04:35PM (#5695810) Homepage

    This is no news to me. I remember reading that AMD was delaying their 64-bit processors until next fall [com.com], the reason was apparently that they wanted to have a version of Windows to run on it.

    It is therefore no surprise that Microsoft announces an appropriate version of Windows in the same time frame!

  • that they'll be providing an advanced version of Windows 2003 to work on the new Cyberdyne 1028-bit chip. Biological detection and engagement will be 30% faster, and there will be a whole new meaning to the phrase "blue screen of death".
  • by eyefish ( 324893 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @04:41PM (#5695891)
    From a user's point of view, I wonder if in a couple of years users will have to decide if they want binaries for Intel's 64-bit architecture or AMD's. This as you all know is not a good thing, since it will bring market confussion to users (however, in the server space where these chips are first targeted this is not so big of an issue, specially with technologies like Java). A workaround is for companies to ship versions of their products for both architectures, thus at the very least this represents a burden on developers.

    Another posibility I see is that AMD's choice of creating a backwards-compatible x86-64 instructions set will reign supreme over Intel's, and thus force Intel to adopt in AMD's x86-64.

    Either way, I see turbulent times ahead...
    • Fat binaries? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by swb ( 14022 )
      Remember the 68k->PPC changeover at Apple when they used to ship fat binaries, those with code for both PPC and 68K?

      Why wouldn't this be an option? Or maybe that weird dynamic recompilation stuff that the Alphas had for running x86 stuff in emulation?

    • A workaround is for companies to ship versions of their products for both architectures, thus at the very least this represents a burden on developers.

      So M$ and Windows developers would be copying what Apple and Mac developers did 9 years ago...

      Sounds like par for the course to me.
  • What do you suppose AMD had to promise to MS to get this announcement before the one for Itanic? Probably not money.

    Most likely, something in a future version that would make it partly incompatible with Linux. Maybe, some chipset feature remaining undocumented, or something that to write code to use would infringe a patent.

    I wonder what it will turn out to be.

    • Well, I may just be cynical but whats something MS would be pushing for with hardware and something thats key to their plans to the point they'd kiss another comapanies ass for? It can be summed up with one word. Paladium. (Or whatever the hell it's called. I could care less. If I can't use a PC without it asking someone else "Is it ok for them to do this?" then its time I go all-Apple. I'm impressed with my Powerbook G4 and their desktops are getting more affordable...)
  • by greenskyx ( 609089 )
    What do you think the chances are that their main motivation here is that they don't want to be beat to the punch by Linux.

    Just imagine if the only 64-Bit servers you could buy were non-MS based...
    • by mahdi13 ( 660205 )
      Just imagine if the only 64-Bit servers you could buy were non-MS based...

      They have been non-MS based for years, I run a 5 year old HP-UX 11.0 64-bit server at my job.

      64bit RISC based processors have been available for about 10 years now (just a guess, maybe longer)
  • Microsoft has been itching to get a piece of the Unix/Linux dominated server market (and while their share has been slowly growing, Linux has been thumping it for years), so it's not all that suprising to see them support the upstart. Every so often they do make a good choice. Every so often...

    Beyond that, Microsoft has been slowly helping AMD over the years, if by just using the 3D-Now optimizations on the early K6-2 processors. Of course, you'll never get Intel and Microsoft out of bed together, but then
  • They're going to support Opteron/Athlon64. Nothing in the press release says they're going to be using it to run their sites
  • Another chance for leaking Windows code...
  • by Junta ( 36770 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @07:42PM (#5697475)
    I know a few companies that are moving forward with plans to use opteron or release opteron-based systems that have been until now 100% intel camps. In one case, I know the company *tried* to embrace itanum first, but found to market rather cold to the thought. A few years ago, the market would have folowed intel anywhere with respect to the future/replacement of the x86 family. AMD has really done a top notch job here. For one, the price is such that system makers can enjoy a decent margin, something they haven't been able to do for a loong time with intel based systems. From a technical perspective, it is the logical next step, the power of 64 bit computing without the detriment of lack of legacy. Legacy has left us with some bad things, but it is vital for organizations and companies that cannot afford an intrusive migration. Plus, a lot of the legacy from 386 days no longer necessitates much of an impact to new development as it does with 32 bit systems. Intel dropped the ball. If the market wanted 64-bit computing without caring about compatibility, there is already Alpha, PA-RISC, Sparc, Power4, MIPS, and others. Windows was *not* the reason, the price was. Now with AMD maintaining compatibility and providing the product at a reasonable price target, they will be really hard to beat.
  • by ewhenn ( 647989 ) on Wednesday April 09, 2003 @08:40PM (#5697821)
    ..now with 16 character addresses!

    BRAIN has performed an illegal operation in AMD64 at 0123456789ABCDEF. BRAIN will now terminate.

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