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Going Itanium 2? 17

Marcel Turcotte asks: "I am buying equipments for a new lab. Last year, when we applied for funding, we included an Itanium based server in our budget. Now that the money has arrived, I am not so sure that Itanium is the way to go. Although there are great machines, such as the HP rx5670 running Linux, people don't seem enthusiast about the chip. I am wondering how the acceptance of the IA-64 compares with the acceptance of other chips."
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Going Itanium 2?

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  • Will many major companies switching to Itanium in some form or another (read Dell, Gateway, Unisys, IBM, HP/COMPAQ, and others) it would be wise to go ahead and purchase it especially if it's for a college lab. Many students will be going out into the workforce with valuable experience with the Itanium.
  • Depends... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ivan256 ( 17499 ) on Tuesday October 15, 2002 @07:59PM (#4457795)
    If you're planning on running custom code that needs insanely fast FP performance and isn't easily distributable, or you absolutely need 64-bit hardware, then you should go for it. Otherwise, they're overpriced and you should get something else.

    Itanium will likely end up filling the markes previously occupied by Alpha, PA-RISC, and some MIPS-64 platforms. They seem to be using the same design and marketing paradigm. (Proprietary platform. High performace. High price.) The types of people that you are probably thinking of when you say "enthusiast" aren't going to be able to afford one of these.
  • Can't rule out AMD (Score:3, Informative)

    by DRnetman86 ( 617230 ) <.ten.retupmochcetxam. .ta. .divad.> on Tuesday October 15, 2002 @08:05PM (#4457832) Homepage
    While the Itanium 2 does look quite enticing, what about AMD's Hammer series? It should have lower power consumption, work with x86 programs, and you know the rest. Even Linus posted that he thinks that the Hammers will be better than Intel in the 64 bit market. Don't solely go with Intel.
  • by Lao-Tzu ( 12740 ) on Tuesday October 15, 2002 @08:14PM (#4457893) Homepage

    If the server is going to be needed for tasks that a 64 bit processor would help with, then an Itanium might not be a bad idea. However, I'd be surprised if it would be worth the cost unless you have very specific applications planned for the machine. I'd suggest that using the extra money to invest in a larger multiprocessor server might be more flexible and useful in the wide range of tasks that a server in a University lab is bound to be exposed to.

    Of course, since I'm at Carleton, I'll say anything to try to stop U of Ottawa from having hardware I can't get my hands on. ;)

    • Frankly, If you have tasks that require a 64 bit processor, there are a number of better options than the itanium. In all likelihood, if you really NEED 64 bit, you probably have large memory demands, at least, more than 3 gb/process. There are a number of architectures that would be more cost effective. For example, you may be able to make do with a Xeon solution. Of course, it may require you to adapt your application to work with the paging model (you're still limited to 32 bit pointers.)

      If you need real 64 bit pointers, consider Sun or IBM, SGI, etc. Some information about what you want to do or how much money you have to spend would be more useful.

      If you absolutely need 64 bit data types, and less than 3 gb of ram, use PPC's. They have a 64bit/32bit split. 32bit address space, 64 bit data types.

      Remember, 64 bit processors are not inherantly faster than 32 bit ones. In fact, if you have no real dependency on 64 bit processors, then get a bunch of 32 bit processors. Get extra for redundancy, parralel processing, or as a spare space warmer.

      Remember, the more established options are generally a better idea. They're mass-produced, cheaper, more supported, more spares, etc.

      I doubt there's any application that specifically requires an Itanium. Evaluate what you need, and purchase appropriately.
  • by carlmenezes ( 204187 ) on Tuesday October 15, 2002 @09:17PM (#4458252) Homepage
    1) Does the server work with quantities of data that would make it inconvenient to use a 32-bit proc? If so, yes you need an Itanium. I'd say wait for the AMD-Hammer too and the inevitable price drop ;)
    2) Have you looked at clustering? This might be a good alternative too if you have a lot of number-crunching to do.
    3) If you're looking at databases, I'd suggest looking at "a 64 bit proc", not necessarily the Itanium.

    to cut a long story short - what you REALLY want to look is if you really do need a 64 bit proc and if you do, don't necessarily look at Intel - check out the competition too and go for the one that gives you the best performance for your particular application- I'm assuming price doesn't matter that much here.
    • Given the prices of Sun kit these days (you can get an entry level server for $1000, and a beefy v880 for $20-40k), you might want to look at that. Performance may or may not match the Itanium, but you'd get a guaranteed stable system from hardware to OS.
  • I mean if this is a matter of $5,000 or so for a single box, spend it on the single Itanium and enjoy it. A buddy of mine did just that when the Pentium was new (got a P60 for the low, low price of about $4,000 - including one of those amazing 15" multisync monitors ...) - don't fret too much about the small stuff.

    Now if we are talking about the $50,000 on up price range for a single box - let us clarify this and start the conversations anew.
    • Let's clarify the need and $$$.

      Indeed, we are planning on running quite large
      jobs on these servers, and therefore 64 bit
      processors are required.

      At the moment, the most likely scenario is:

      - 1 x Sun V880, 8 x 900 MHz, 32 Gb RAM, 6 x 73G disks
      - 1 x Sun V480, 4 x 900 MHz, 24 Gb RAM, 2 x 73 G disks
      - 15 x Sun Blade 150, 1 x 550 MHz, 640 Mb RAM

      We are considering the HP rx5670 as a possible
      replacement for the V480, pricewise the two
      machines are comparable, however, it seems that
      Sun machine is considerable slower but runs
      all the applications that we need (ILOG CPLEX,
      MATLAB, ...).

      Thanks for all the comments
  • by turgid ( 580780 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2002 @12:42PM (#4462619) Journal
    Have you thought about Sun UltraSPARC machines? You can get some pretty decent low-end boxen such as the Sun Blade 100 [] and Sun Blade 150 [] or go for more up-market workstations like the Sun Blade 2000 [] or servers []. UltraSPARC is currently in it's 3rd incarnation (USIIICu), has been about for years, is well understood, and can run Solaris and various Linux distros. GCC runs on it as does most Free and Open Source software. UltraSPARC is the only proven high-end 64-bit CPU with a long-term roadmap.
  • AMD Hammer is marketed towards the desktop market and is based on its current x86 core architecture. Itanium, on the other hand, is a true high-end server or workstaion processor based on a totally new architecture, IA64. DRnetman is comparing apples and oranges. Besides, has AMD announced a release date. In typical fashion, they hype a product long before its release and then put it out with a whimper 'cause the competition has already been there, done that.
    • I think your information is mistaken. The Hammer is not based on anyone's existing x86 core. It is a true 64-bit processor with compatibility for IA32/x86. Almost all of the design starts for the processor right now are for high end workstation/servers. The processor's core has the ability to scale from mobiles to desktops to high-end workstations to servers. So no, DRnetman is not comparing apples and oranges.
  • dont get an Itanium, by the time you get the machine, and have it set up and running, your $2000+ proc will be out dated. Itaniums are very fast per clock, but they are only ~1Ghz.

    i would suggest you wait til hammer, not necessarily to buy one but the market will react to it, meaning the price will drop on most other compeeting chips. AND the Itanic may just be a bit faster.

    when Hammer comes out, you should be able to get 4way Hammer systems running @ 2+Ghz(3200+ rating) and Hammer is a much better SMP chip than most others you may know of.

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