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itanium emulation layer

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December 28, 2007 12:04:09 PM

Is there a doctor in the house? It seems that an itanium processor emulates ia32 code, but is there anything it absolutely can not do?
i was planning to run some games on it.
December 28, 2007 12:14:48 PM

you cant run games on an itanium.......its not x86 32bit compatible
December 28, 2007 12:54:53 PM

I have to ask, why do you have an Itanium?

You could run 32bit applications on it but it will be very slow as everything will have to be emulated.
December 28, 2007 1:01:49 PM

intel's site it would be comparable to a 1.5 ghz xeon, which i think is decent.
no, i don't currently own one, but i thought i'd ask around to see if anyone had any potentially bad experiences with it. I was planning on getting an SGI prism, which has 6 pci-x slots and a 2Thz memory interface, which among other things, would be nice to run games on.
December 28, 2007 1:38:32 PM

pci-x? why do you need 6 pci-x slots?? You can buy high end intel/amd boards that have 4 pci-e slots which are faster than pci-x.....also i dont think you can get graphics cards for pci-x, well, ones that would play games anyway.

1.5hgz xeon would not be good to play games on, unless you are on about playing command and conquer 95 or windows solitaire? lol......
December 28, 2007 2:05:00 PM

An Itanium is a server/high-end workstation chip with no capability of efficiently running normal desktop apps and OS's. It's definitely not a gaming chip and you'll likely encounter many headaches trying to get a game running on it.

The workstation-form SGI Prism probably costs $5000+ to this day:

http://www.engadget.com/2005/04/26/sgis-itanium-2-based...

It also won't accept common high-performance PCI-Express graphics cards because it uses the incompatible PCI-X standard typically found on servers.

Edit: It also came out 2 years ago and so they were comparing with a 1.5GHz Netburst type Xeon. That has no problem managing basic tasks but would slow down greatly with anything demanding like modern games.
a b à CPUs
December 28, 2007 2:29:36 PM

Emulation software ... lol.

I remember running emulation on my Mac years ago.

Dreadfull on a 68000 ... probably 4 times worse on a VLIW based processor.

The damned thing would find very few instances where parallelism in emulation on modern games would effect any gains.

Like sticking a steam engine on a truck ... great torque ... no speed.
December 28, 2007 2:56:44 PM

HOW BIG IS YOUR BUDGET?

Literally genuinely interested.
a b à CPUs
December 28, 2007 3:17:02 PM

Itanium processors are optimized to responds to work loads that require huge number of calculations per second, ie. Pi calculations, fluid dynamics, etc. the Itanium will be really bad at any thing else, for example gaming, etc.
December 28, 2007 7:58:04 PM

@Wr "you'll likely encounter many headaches trying to get a game running on it. "

if you could elaborate on that i would appreciate it.
a c 133 à CPUs
December 28, 2007 8:18:04 PM

It does not run 32 bit code natively(so it emulates). That said emulation is very slow(you ever notice how even to run SNES with transparency you needed a computer many times faster then the Snes was....emulation kind of sucks....). If you want to game on something. Get a Q6600 or Q6850 and call it a day :) 
December 28, 2007 8:31:41 PM

surrealdeal said:
@Wr "you'll likely encounter many headaches trying to get a game running on it. "

if you could elaborate on that i would appreciate it.

Emulation is not perfect but usually focuses on some intended usage aspect; emulation typically translates most but not quite all of the functionality of the target of the emulation. I'm not saying for certain that you won't find your games to run flawlessly; I'm just suggesting it is highly unlikely for server x86 32-bit emulation to fully support DirectX gaming and all the modern drivers that go with it, as these were not intended uses. I also have not heard of anyone gaming on an Itanium.

"Prism Workstation, 1 x 1.6GHz Itanium2 Processor with 3MB Cache, 2GB Memory, 250GB SATA System Disk, ATI 8x/4x Radeon X800 Graphics with 256MB $4,475.00"

There has to be some secret you're not telling us, as that is nowhere near $4475 worth of desktop gaming performance. I bought an X800 almost 2 years ago for $150; it's probably worth $50 now. You could build a $600 gaming system that beats the pants off that server. It would be much smoother to game on the $600 system and not waste the colossal floating point performance of that server above, the performance that people fork out several grand for.
December 28, 2007 9:22:22 PM

ahh, i think i need to clarify something: i will be using this as a ungodly huge database server and in collaboration with my peers, a CAD workstation. Running call of duty on a prism is just for kicks. But i was just trying to see if anyone else had done this and if there were any 'gotcha's' or f00f bugs /etc. they've come across, as related to the actual instruction 'emulation' which is pretty close to being native. The great thing about this machine is that if you run HPC apps on it, there are no latencies as there are with, say, a beowulf cluster. Oh, and opengl games compiled from source would have to be pretty good.
December 28, 2007 10:20:17 PM

Quote:
i will be using this as a ungodly huge database server and in collaboration with my peers, a CAD workstation.

Whatever you do with it, make sure you look up benchmarks for these tasks. It would very much surprise me if an $8000 workstation from 3-4 years ago, now refurbished and offered for $4500, manages to outperform a modern $3000 Clovertown/Harpertown server in any benchmark. Incidentally a modern x86-64 server is more likely to run any particular game and at much higher frame rates.

Windows Server 2003 for IA-64 may also have additional restrictions for everyday tasks that aren't workstation-oriented - might be good to check the MS site. If you're running Linux, I guess that doesn't apply.

Again, I never heard of full fledged games being run on Itanium2.
December 28, 2007 11:07:21 PM

This Itanium2 is no where near a qx6600 in terms of performance even for cad with newest autocad w/multi-core support would beat that system by a mile and cost much less.

Quote:
6. Does AutoCAD 2008 support multiple CPU systems?

Yes, AutoCAD 2008 supports multiple CPU systems. The performance of AutoCAD graphics and rendering systems will benefit from multiple CPU systems.


I build systems for businesses for a living thats too much money for such low tech cpu, besides it so limited why bother.
December 29, 2007 1:52:34 AM

techguy911 said:
This Itanium2 is no where near a qx6600 in terms of performance even for cad with newest autocad w/multi-core support would beat that system by a mile and cost much less.

Quote:
6. Does AutoCAD 2008 support multiple CPU systems?

Yes, AutoCAD 2008 supports multiple CPU systems. The performance of AutoCAD graphics and rendering systems will benefit from multiple CPU systems.


I build systems for businesses for a living thats too much money for such low tech cpu, besides it so limited why bother.


If you truly build computers for a living, I feel sorry for your customers. The Itanium is anything but a "low tech cpu". It will totally and completely crush anything else out there. . . as long as the software is properly coded. It is the most powerful, most complex CPU we've ever made. Ever. Those 1.8 billion transistors arent on that die for window dressing.

That being said, call of duty wont run worth a crap on it due to the emulation issues that have already been explained. Make sure your DB and CAD programs come in native IA-64 versions. If they don't, it's not worth it. Stick to the world of normal processors, grab a q6xxx and call it a day.
December 29, 2007 3:07:01 AM

The current Itanium is powerful, but there is a 2-year+ difference between Q6600 and the Itanium 2 revision used in that machine. It's hard to bridge a 4x core gap.

Itanium 2 (present-day): 2 cores, each with 1.25MB L2, 4-12MB L3
Itanium 2 (refurbished system): 1 core, with 256K L2, 3MB L3
December 29, 2007 3:09:23 AM

K8/K10 is a 3 issue wide engine. Conroe/Penny is a 4 issue wide engine. Itanium is an 11 issue wide engine.
December 29, 2007 4:08:57 AM

11-issue huh? It was my understanding that 11 (or 14?) separate execution units are in each core, but they are all specialized for some task - integer (6), mmx (4), or floating point (2/4?). I also recall only 6 instructions can be loaded/dispatched in one clock cycle.

Even crudely comparing by issue width, a Q6600 would already be 16-issue, versus the 11-issue single core in the Prism listed above. That's not to mention the clock disparity and completely different approach to optimization, where Conroe can load all 4 issues with a lucky instruction mix whereas IA-64 optimization is all about constantly loading 6 issues (right?).

I would still be very surprised if one Itanium2 core at 1.6Ghz fairly outperformed four Conroe cores at 2.4Ghz, the odds are so much against it. Even the 3MB cache is dwarfed by the 8MB present on the Q6600.
December 29, 2007 4:39:03 AM

if they're all FC-PGA4, i guess i could upgrade to 1.66 GHz 24MB L3. But that's if i can, i'll have to call SGI, or someone in case i need to flash a bios. thanks for the re-affirmation. it builds confidence.
December 29, 2007 10:28:23 AM

you still havent told us what software you're going to run on the darn thing.

A Q6600 isn't a 16 issue wide part, you can't add the execution units of the four cores together. It just doesn't work that way. I will concede that the Itanium would be a pain in the balls to program for since it's an in-order processor unlike the OoO engines you'll find in the DT segment.

If programmed correctly, you can execute all 11 instruction subsets at the same time as long as the subsets don't overwrite one another in the cache pool. I wondered where you might pull that data from, and checking the wiki article on Itanium lead me to your false info. Don't trust what you read on wikipedia. It's wrong alot.
December 29, 2007 3:33:47 PM

Basically a high end amd/intel mainstream cpu is what you use for gaming and is what is best for gaming......i think if it wasnt and the itanium was better we would already be using them at the moment for high end gaming and wouldnt be having this conversation.....Its a server chip and should only be used for that else its pointless...

It would be the same principle as buying a pc tower for £400 and then using it as a paperweight........pointless........just get a rock???
December 29, 2007 4:03:54 PM

i'm building an AI to write ICE...
December 29, 2007 4:06:44 PM

Since you're so interesting in buying a CPU and using it for something it's not designed to do, why don't you take a look at IBM's PowerPC based chips such as the Cell. :p 
December 29, 2007 4:24:39 PM

i am, i do like POWER, but i don't know if i really want a ps3... warcraft on an x86 LPAR...
a c 100 à CPUs
December 30, 2007 2:17:36 AM

surrealdeal said:
if they're all FC-PGA4, i guess i could upgrade to 1.66 GHz 24MB L3. But that's if i can, i'll have to call SGI, or someone in case i need to flash a bios. thanks for the re-affirmation. it builds confidence.


Itaniums are not FC-PGA4. All but the very first are PAC611:
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