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hamei
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Re: Crazy?

Unread postby hamei » Tue Mar 08, 2005 8:13 am

Dubhthach wrote:Way their pricing is going it wouldn't take much for say someone like Sun to buy them up, take whatever tech they like (from altix etc.) and then can the whole line. after all it would probably suit them to reduce Itanium sales and they do have about 10billion in the bank!


That would probably be the best possibly outcome of the SGI saga ....

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Annatar
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Re: Crazy?

Unread postby Annatar » Tue Mar 08, 2005 12:56 pm

jan-jaap wrote:The point I was trying to make is: the only reason to make IRIX widely available for little money, would be to gain "mindshare" with developers and people who pick up a second hand system to play with. However, SGI have made it perfectly clear that this platform is on it's way out. There will be no new processors. There will be no new systems. Soon, there will be only bugfixes to IRIX. They want to port their existing (remaining) customer base to their new platform.
Well, their new platform sucks dead bunnies through a bent straw. For starters, it runs Linux, which is particularly bad. Then, it runs on a CPU that is to be discontinued by both intel and hp.
The "we need a Sun blade type of system" discussion is not new. It is about as common as the number of people bashing these same boxen for being crappy overpriced PC's. I've used an Ultra-10 in the past, 'nuff said ;-)
You might want to try the Sun Ultra Enterprise 220R. Server-class HW (redundant power supplies, U320 SCSI, 19" rack mountable) for around $450 USD, which is dirt cheap for that kind of a system. A real nice piece of hardware.
Then again, I have an Indigo2 with a 200MHz R4400, that can boot IRIX 4.05H in maybe 4 seconds (not including POST). You've never seen anything like it.
Oh yes I have. It was called Commodore Amiga.
I fail to see how the current IRIX userbase would benefit from opening the IRIX sources. Do you want to fix something? It might help people to port *BSD or Linux to MIPS hardware.
OK, in all fairness, there is no need to open source IRIX. But there is a clear and definitive need to make it free, especially if they're going to dump it.
Does it hurt to be pay lots of money for a Fuel system an find yourself stuck with a "legacy" label three years leater? :? <ducks>
No, it doesn't, because an R14K Fuel system will beat the living daylights out of anything else that'll come out in three years time, and I don't care if that something runs on a 500GHz CPU. The Fuel will run the latest IRIX64, and that alone means trodding anything else out there (including Solaris/OpenSolaris) into the ground; we didn't even get to the HW part yet.

Am I sounding too fanatical on that point?
Fact is, I'm pissed! I'm pissed about what SGI is doing. I used to make nice wads of cash doing IRIX administration and supercomputer HW for a living. Now I can't do that any more, and it's really pissing me off, because SGI HW and IRIX 6.5.x are my #1 choice. Where I'm at right now there is no IRIX and no SGI market at all. I'm sad as much as I'm angry about it.

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Re: Crazy?

Unread postby Annatar » Tue Mar 08, 2005 1:03 pm

hamei wrote:
Dubhthach wrote:Way their pricing is going it wouldn't take much for say someone like Sun to buy them up, take whatever tech they like (from altix etc.) and then can the whole line. after all it would probably suit them to reduce Itanium sales and they do have about 10billion in the bank!


That would probably be the best possibly outcome of the SGI saga ....
Probably would.

But hey, if DEC can one day become another hp brand, then SGI can become Sun...

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hamei
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Re: Crazy?

Unread postby hamei » Tue Mar 08, 2005 6:08 pm

Annatar wrote:
jan-jaap wrote:
Does it hurt to be pay lots of money for a Fuel system an find yourself stuck with a "legacy" label three years leater? :? <ducks>
No, it doesn't, because an R14K Fuel system will beat the living daylights out of anything else that'll come out in three years time, and I don't care if that something runs on a 500GHz CPU. The Fuel will run the latest IRIX64, and that alone means trodding anything else out there (including Solaris/OpenSolaris) into the ground; we didn't even get to the HW part yet.


Whew. That's good to hear 'cuz I wasn't feeling so positive about the build quality and performance of the Fuel. It's okay but I think if I had it to do over I'd gussy up an Octane2 instead. Now, if the faster cpu's ever become available that may change but as it stands a Fuel is not really awe-inspiring. Nice computer but certainly not ten grand's worth of nice.

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Re: Crazy?

Unread postby skylark » Sun Mar 13, 2005 3:06 pm

Annatar wrote:The only way for a company to get themselves out of financial bind these days is to go mass-production. By that I mean mass-produced IRIX/MIPS workstations with PC-bucket components. NO PROPRIETARY BS, all connectors PC, powersupply ATX, motherboards ATX factor, memory standard PC-bucket RAM, SATA drives, SCSI for little more money. Effectively, everything standard except for the motherboard circuitry and the CPU.


Sorry, but that just sent me off my chair with laughter. For instance, a lot of strength of Octanes came from entirely proprietary interconnect (XIO crossbar-based architecture) bridged in an extremely clever, although not quite standard-compliant way to PCI (go read the patents if you suppose that SGI could get the performance by following standards). If SGI thought like you do back then, they would make another MIPS system with just PCI, and maybe EIDE drives too - they were PC-bucket back then (UDMA only if you feel lucky). Except a really nice CPU they would be essentially PC clones, additionally crippled by lack of drivers.

Annatar wrote:The key is in volume, always has been.


Sure. And rock-hard ability to compete against Dell in the low-margin market.

Annatar wrote:All I know is that an R14000 Fuel system reboots from 4dwm login screen to 4dwm login screen in 45 seconds, full cycle, POST included. That's a behavior I've seen in a 1+ GHz x86 CPU. Ja sorry, it's the end result that matters.


Sure, right. But we have now 3.2 GHz x86-64 CPUs with more issues per cycle. Do you really think SGI could pay for this kind of speedup of the R10000 series? This said, I'm actually really p*ssed off there aren't any good MIPS CPUs on the market now, they are really nice to work with. And quite reliable, too.

Annatar wrote:
I would not be surprised if there was an Altrix in a dark corner of an SGI lab with PowerPC CPU bricks or Opterons or <insert whatever architecture>. And it all runs Linux already, so they could bring something new to the market *really* fast if the Itanic sinks.
Linux is vastly inferior to any commercial UNIX out there, and this is especially true when Linux is compared to IRIX. If you want to be technical about it, compare IRIX and Linux internals.


Unfortunately (for you) I can be very technical with both. Let's just say that working with IRIX internals (especially gfx stuff) is about the same kind of pleasure as rearranging cow's internal plumbing via its mouth, thanks to internal inconsistencies, split responsibilities for handling a single piece of hardware, magic numbers strewn everywhere... (I hear the network and SMP code was better but from what I've seen it's not.) The hwgraph is a very neat solution in search of a problem (even big Origins will not get really that complex to warrant arbitrary graphs): can you spell "overcomplex"... Is this what could be called "superior internals"?

Linux is in a perpetual state of "just getting there" so not that stellar either, but at least it is, technically, much more pleasant, clean and overall nicer to work with. About speed of Linux/MIPS - well, GNU GCC still has no R10000 optimization switches and sucks really badly compared to MIPSPro (for this and other reasons).

A propos Altix with Opterons: no problem, I think. SGI did something similar when switching Origin series from MIPS to IA-64, they made a bridge chip with bus adaptation logic from IA-64 to SysAD (and with some L4 cache from what I hear, too).

Annatar wrote:That's exactly what makes IRIX so attractive and what makes it so good, that it's a full SVR4!


Right. And FreeBSD is so good because it's a full BSD. (sarcasm mode off) Not much of a point, really...

Annatar wrote:Linux is a wankfest, not an OS. Those geeks should try and find themselves a woman, not jerk off on code on Friday nights.


Hmm, sometimes I get that feeling too... For instance, when my ISDN just stops working without a cause. Then I just remember there are no ISDN adapters for the Octanes and this kind of sobers me up. (What, use an Indy as a router? I do that anyway now.) After that I accidentally run Xsgi (instead of /usr/gfx/startgfx) from console line on IRIX64 6.5.22m and it gives me a PANIC, now this is something to see.

BTW, why do we bash ATI? Do we prefer nVIDIA? If you think we actually prefer SGI ISD/DSD then I'll have to advise you almost all of them work either at ATI or nVIDIA now. If you think they do it just to have ca$h for the next day then you've got another think coming. Designing graphics hardware is something you do because you love it, they could just as well go to AMD and design processors or to Broadcom and design network switches, it's not any harder really.

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hamei
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Re: Crazy?

Unread postby hamei » Sun Mar 13, 2005 9:27 pm

skylark wrote: BTW, why do we bash ATI?


Flaky drivers for Windows I think, mostly. That's why people using pro/e won't buy ATi stuff, anyway.

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Re: Crazy?

Unread postby unixmuseum » Sun Mar 13, 2005 10:01 pm

hamei wrote:
skylark wrote: BTW, why do we bash ATI?


Flaky drivers for Windows I think, mostly. That's why people using pro/e won't buy ATi stuff, anyway.

People using Windows CAD workstations in general, at least with the main CAD systems: you mentionned Pro/E already, add I-DEAS, Catia and Unigraphics to the list of "avoid ATI"-labeled applications. I don't think it's so much the hardware that is to blame, it's just the darn drivers that are so unstable!

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Re: Crazy?

Unread postby skylark » Sun Mar 13, 2005 11:46 pm

hamei wrote:
skylark wrote: BTW, why do we bash ATI?


Flaky drivers for Windows I think, mostly. That's why people using pro/e won't buy ATi stuff, anyway.


Hmm, you are right there. Unfortunately, it didn't occur to anybody to make two builds of drivers: a "gaming" one and a "CAD" one, with different feature sets. :? For a long time, Linux drivers were even worse.

But I think that SGI would be capable of doing their own drivers for ATi, even if they aren't capable of making their own hardware anymore. (I'm afraid they are using the fglrx though.) Although nV Linux drivers just aren't any better, and I know what I say (having the top-of-the-line cards of both manufacturers now).

SGI machines worked so great because all they had to support were essentially SGI devices (with the small exception of SCSI controllers), even the network controllers on later machines are SGI (and of course won't even work in a PC, because of flagrant PCI standard violations). The same goes for SGI graphics devices, all they did was OpenGL under IRIX and they were really good at that (for their time). This is the benefit of vertical integration.

However the growing feature set of current graphics cards (especially the programmable shaders) left Odyssey (the last SGI design AFAIK) standing in the dust. A lot of things that card had special hardware for (like per-fragment lighting or other SGI extensions) can be done now in a very simple fragment shader.

We have to stop believing that the story could have been any different... It's very sad when a shining star falls but in this case it was rather predictable. When aggressive low-end companies enter the market where a high-end company has 500% profit margins (yes, five hundred, I didn't add a zero there), the high-end company is sure to get some beating on its low-end gear, because some users don't need the perfectly stable IRIX/MIPS and fully compliant OpenGL.

When these low-end companies start making a lot of money because of different core target markets (gaming) they are sure to attract talent from the high-end company with declining profits (which started to decline because of the low-end market shift). This leads to "high-endization" of low-end company's products (they just got some really clever new guys) and further eats into the high-end company's bottom line. This causes a process with positive feedback here :(

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Re: Crazy?

Unread postby jan-jaap » Mon Mar 14, 2005 1:07 am

skylark wrote:About speed of Linux/MIPS - well, GNU GCC still has no R10000 optimization switches and sucks really badly compared to MIPSPro (for this and other reasons).


http://dev.gentoo.org/~kumba/mips/misc/gcc-3.4.1-add_mips_march_r10k_support.patch

Refer to this thread to read about GCC vs. MIPSpro.

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Re: Crazy?

Unread postby skylark » Mon Mar 14, 2005 2:09 am

jan-jaap wrote:
skylark wrote:About speed of Linux/MIPS - well, GNU GCC still has no R10000 optimization switches and sucks really badly compared to MIPSPro (for this and other reasons).


http://dev.gentoo.org/~kumba/mips/misc/gcc-3.4.1-add_mips_march_r10k_support.patch

Refer to this thread to read about GCC vs. MIPSpro.


Oops, I must write bad code then, because I get a noticeable speed difference sometimes :) Also I always do 64-bit code. Thanks for the info. BTW, 3.4 series quite possibly miscompiles SMP kernel so I'm very wary of it.


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