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AuthorTopic: Analysis: x86 Vs PPC  (Read 1680 times)

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Offline BlackMonk

Re: Analysis: x86 Vs PPC
« Reply #15 on: July 10, 2003, 06:43:40 PM »
Maybe the author of that article should have done some research first?

http://arstechnica.com/cpu/index.html

Some nice stuff there, especially the PPC/x86 comparisons.  Hell, 4 years ago they were already talking about the whole CISC/RISC thing being a moot point in modern CPUs:

http://www.arstechnica.com/cpu/4q99/risc-cisc/rvc-1.html

Just about everything that people have brought up in this thread (pipeline comparisons, CPU design methodologies, CISC vs. RISC, PPC vs. x86, in-depth analysis of the PPC970, etc.) has been gone over, in detail, at that site I linked to.  And heck, they even have links to their sources that they pulled the information from.

As for the author's assertion that an Alpha beats the P4 in floating point operations, did the author mean SpecFP2000 Peak:

http://www.aceshardware.com/SPECmine/index.jsp?b=2&s=0&v=1&if=0&cf=0&r1f=0&r2f=0&m1f=0&m2f=3&o=0&o=1

...or SpecFP2000 Base:

http://www.aceshardware.com/SPECmine/index.jsp?b=2&s=1&v=1&if=0&cf=0&r1f=0&r2f=0&m1f=0&m2f=3&o=0&o=1

It's interesting that the author originally wrote the article to justify to the management and their customers the choice of PPC over x86.  I'm going to guess that PegasOS is trying to position itself to kiosks, embedded systems, the hobbyist market, and maybe business terminals.  I make this guess based on:

http://www.pegasosppc.com/tech_specs.php

Now for his PPC vs. x86 article he mentioned Alpha.  Alpha is fast, Alpha is neat, Alpha is expensive and not the product that he's trying to compare to x86.  It's a totally worthless mention.  I'd hate to be a customer who asks "why do you use PPC instead of x86?" and have someone come back with, "did you know that the Alpha CPU is faster than x86?"  What's up with that?

Yappin' about power usage, etc.  Talking about how the P4 is power-inefficient and then using the PM as a comparison--despite the fact that the PM uses a different architecture and pipeline than the P4.  And power consumption, 'ell, it's not only the PM's that is low, there are other low-cost competitors who are also low-power:

http://www.via.com.tw/en/Digital%20Library/PR030708Antaur.jsp

Heck, if the author wanted to actually research power consumption:

http://www.sandpile.org/impl/pm.htm
http://www.sandpile.org/impl/p4.htm
http://www.sandpile.org/impl/k8.htm
http://www.sandpile.org/impl/k7.htm
http://www.sandpile.org/impl/crusoe.htm

I'm too lazy to look up any PPC power consumption figures.

The sad part is that the author DID list Ars-Technica as a reference.  I guess he skimmed the articles or something.  

The even sadder part is that his business justification of why they chose PPC over x86 lists memory bandwidth as a "problem" for fast x86 CPUs.  That's funny.  I'm sure the P4 with it's 800 MHz (effective) FSB and dual-channel DDR400 memory subsystem is at a great disadvantage to the G4's 166 MHz CPU interface.  Yup, you see, it works out to be more efficient because the G4 only scales to around half the speed of the P4.  Heh, yeah, sure.

I also like how the author keeps referring to the Alpha, a dead-end product.  Yeah, the 21364 is out now but HP's already announced that that platform has no future.  Nor does PA-RISC.  Looks like some of the old-school CPU manufacturers are ditching their "RISC" designs, eh?  But that's ok, I mean, more and more computing institutions use commodity-level "CISC" CPUs like x86:

http://www.top500.org/list/2003/06/
http://www.top500.org/lists/2003/06/trends.php

"A total of 119 system, up from 56 six month ago, are now using Intel processors."
"149 systems are now labeld as cluster, up from 93."

Now I know many Itanium systems are there, but look at the increase in clusters.  It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that people are clustering cheap x86 CPUs more and more to get the best computing bang for the buck, supercomputer-wise.  Someone else can pull up stats from all 500 installations to either support or disprove my assertion, I'm not quite curious enough to do it myself.  ;)

The author does finally admit that the PPC is crippled in terms of memory bandwidth and just plain slower than x86.  But then he tries to minimize it by saying that people won't generally notice.  

This piece has some facts in it, some bias, and is utter crap if it were originally written as a way to woo customers or provide business justification.  The article touches on performance computing of which PegasOS's products are not.  It talks about low power consumption, ok, there's a good fit.  It tries to make the argument that Linux will equalize all issues and yet there are many many programs that will (and do) have endian issues since they were first developed on x86 and without regard for PPC/68k/Alpha/PA-RISC/MIPS.  It's not like there is some magic wand that makes everything in Linux just magically work on all architectures.

Again, as a business justification, this piece tends to spend a large amount of time talking about Alpha and future, unreleased products like the POWER5 and POWER6.  If I were a customer, would I not want to know why the PegasOS was the right choice for me NOW?  With the CURRENT PRODUCTS?  Or are people supposed to buy the current under-performing, bandwidth-crippled systems based on promises that a CPU due in 1 or 2 more years will be better?

The PPC has many strengths.  I think many of them play into the PegasOS.  However, this article doesn't expose them and spends too much time trying to minimalize the benefits of the main competitor, x86.  The comparisons wildly fly to any CPU the author can imagine and somehow comparing a P4 to the Alpha is a reason why the PPC is better.  And comparing the P4 to an unreleased CPU (G5) is a reason why PPC consumes less power/generates less heat.  Whatever.

If I have enough money when the time comes, I'm gonna get me a PowerMac G5.  And if AmigaOS 4.0 ever ships, I'll eventually get an AmigaOne to play around with.  I'm no slavish Intel fanboy, honest.  However, I do think this article was full of bias and poorly written.  The guy might be a good EE but I don't agree with his opinions and I don't think he produced a good quality comparison or business justification, whichever this article was supposed to be.
 

Offline BlackMonk

Re: Analysis: x86 Vs PPC
« Reply #16 on: July 10, 2003, 07:04:40 PM »
I was skimming the comments section of OSNews and noticed the author stated:

Quote
Both IBM and the Alpha team announced the addition of Multithreading support was expected to give a 100% boost in performance.


That might be dandy for IBM's POWER5 (and people are disputing that IBM and Alpha ever claimed this), but after the Alpha got gutted, most of the team working on the 21464 and it's vaunted SMT implementation moved over to Intel and have been working on a next-generation Itanium.  Another advantage of Intel versus PPC?

And the more I read the comments, the more I see other people brought up the same stuff I did.  Spec being a crappy benchmark, for instance.  Anyway, for those who want to see some more valid complaints (and lots of flames), check out the OSNews comment section.
 

Offline mikeymike

Re: Analysis: x86 Vs PPC
« Reply #17 on: July 10, 2003, 07:23:52 PM »
@ KennyR

Quote
Yes mike, it cuts all ways.


As you used the terms 'all' and 'always' as part of your point, presumably you think any opinion about anything is just propaganda?

Quote
Funny how stuff is always propaganda if it doesn't support one's views and the system one is currently using, isn't it?

Offline ne_one

Re: Analysis: x86 Vs PPC
« Reply #18 on: July 10, 2003, 11:46:01 PM »
Good grief - great?

An article that completely ignores the state of the market and appeals to those that believe that anything is better than submitting to the Dark Side(tm).

An Alpha, RS6000, PA-RISC, Sparc or potato chip may be better than the x86 but it's fast, offers a low cost of entry and it supports the most widely used and respected operating systems.

Do Genesi (add in Eyetech and Hyperion) really expect anyone to believe that they selected the PPC architecture for a niche platform because it is better designed?

The Amiga succeeded because it offered great value for a cheap price.  In 1985 proprietary hardware was a distinguishing factor because it contributed greatly to perceived value -- today it is a liability. Does it really matter when you have more registers or less CPU cycles when there is no software to run on it and a manufacturer that appears disinterested in the technology?

And before anyone screams 'PC zealot' or brings up the need to maintain compatibility with 10 year old hardware and software please dial in to 2003. The x86 may not be the best solution but it is the gorilla in the market.
 

Offline createcoms

Re: Analysis: x86 Vs PPC
« Reply #19 on: July 11, 2003, 12:10:26 AM »
I suggest someone take the article and all these good rebutts and put them on a page to make a rather informative take on the situation.  Your knowledge is invaluable guys...............
 

Offline AmigaMac

Re: Analysis: x86 Vs PPC
« Reply #20 on: July 11, 2003, 04:02:47 AM »
Quote

An article that completely ignores the state of the market and appeals to those that believe that anything is better than submitting to the Dark Side(tm).


Why is it when someone writes an article that doesn't put Microsoft/Intel in the limelight, it's automatically turned into the 'Darkside' issue?!  But of course if the shoe was on the other foot, let's say Apple/IBM, this issue wouldn't apply because of whatever reason!?

Quote

Do Genesi (add in Eyetech and Hyperion) really expect anyone to believe that they selected the PPC architecture for a niche platform because it is better designed?


Do you think they would have picked the x86 architecture for a niche platform if it was better designed?  If you're not anything Microsoft/Windows, then Intel/AMD is a dead market for you (unless you're Linux, which debunks the whole 'corporate' market theory)!

Quote

The Amiga succeeded because it offered great value for a cheap price.


If Amiga was so cheap back in the day, then 85-90% of the world would be using it instead of Windows (or DOS in that era)!

Quote

Does it really matter when you have more registers or less CPU cycles when there is no software to run on it and a manufacturer that appears disinterested in the technology?


It does matter to those who take technology for more than marketing hoopla and what's the flavor of the week.  Besides, if no software ran (whatever your talking about) then millions (if not billions) would companies waste to spend to innovate/market it!

Quote

And before anyone screams 'PC zealot' or brings up the need to maintain compatibility with 10 year old hardware and software please dial in to 2003. The x86 may not be the best solution but it is the gorilla in the market.


I see that there is a need for freedom of choice on the computing landscape and if we just had Intel/Microsoft to look forward to, we (the technophiles) would have a boring, dull and tasteless computing experience.
 

Offline bloodline

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Re: Analysis: x86 Vs PPC
« Reply #21 on: July 11, 2003, 11:38:29 AM »
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I see that there is a need for freedom of choice on the computing landscape and if we just had Intel/Microsoft to look forward to, we (the technophiles) would have a boring, dull and tasteless computing experience.


totally missing the issue. There is nothing wrong with the PPC, it's a great chip I think the 970 is going to be a real development.

My problem is with the article, that has not merit or value... it just FUD's the x86 (with, lies, out of date information and half thruths) and does nothing to show the real benfits of the PPC.

Sad, so very sad that it had to come to this.  :-(

Offline AmigaMac

Re: Analysis: x86 Vs PPC
« Reply #22 on: July 11, 2003, 05:21:51 PM »
Quote

My problem is with the article, that has not merit or value... it just FUD's the x86 (with, lies, out of date information and half thruths) and does nothing to show the real benfits of the PPC.


The problem has been going both ways unfortunately.  We all know that the main problem with PPC in the performance area was more due to the bottlenecks around it than the actual clockspeed, though you can never have too much clockspeed :-D   I like that we all can have a choice and be able throw any kind of system together, especially since PPC has made its way to more open platforms like the Pegasos.  I can't wait to be able get one of those and run whatever OS I feel like running.

But your point is well taken, FUD shouldn't be spread either way.