The Intel Announcement

January 23, 2007 at 5:57 am 4 comments

So Sun and Intel have announced a deeper relationship, partnership, call it what you will. Jonathan Schwartz’s blog posting (the URL curiously ends “but_we_did_not_hug”!) mentions a couple of positive aspects, such as the engineering collaboration to come on the server side, but doesn’t talk much about the lower-end stuff that ought to be interesting to lots of us.

We should be able to look forward to better power management, proper WiFi drivers, and hopefully better drivers for the integrated Intel video chips. Some of those graphics drivers are already around in Nevada, which is cool. This ought to make it easier to get Solaris booting on Macs too, maybe bringing the era of Acer Ferrari laptops at Sun to an end.

I see Ben Rockwood’s not too positive about it, which puzzles me. Are there really “fans” of one processor line over another (compatible) processor line? You could understand SPARC vs PA-RISC or something, but an x86 chip vs … another x86 chip? Wierd. It is clear that Intel are currently able to build faster CPUs than AMD, and I see no problem with going with Intel to get those.

But what’s with the odd statement that Intel’s agreed to OEM Solaris itself? Intel doesn’t OEM any OS, even ones from Redmond, so this seems a bit strange.

The associated slides are interesting. Apart from the mega disclaimer on the first slide (stylish – not) there’s a chart of the number of Solaris users (or downloads? it isn’t clear) on UltraSPARC vs x86.


Entry filed under: Mac, OpenSolaris.

Positive article at The Register What happened to OpenStep on Solaris?

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. leeg  |  January 26, 2007 at 10:50 am

    The AMD/Intel argument seems to be based on the direction that each manufacturer wants to take the chip (more accurately, the direction they wanted to take the chip back when the arguer made their unmovable decision). Compare with things like the Motorola/IBM PPC divide and even the TI/fuji SPARCv9 argument 😉

  • 2. Chris Ridd  |  January 27, 2007 at 5:44 am

    Yeah, but since Intel adopted the “EM64T” extensions that mysteriously appeared from nowhere (if you recall the original Intel developer docs omitted to mention AMD for some reason) they’re rather more similar than different. That adoption happened a year or two ago right?

    I wonder if Intel will twist Sun’s arm to rename the string used to identify 64-bit x86 apps from “amd64” to something else? 😉

  • 3. leeg  |  January 27, 2007 at 10:27 am

    You mean the EM64T instructions which are curiously bug-for-bug compatible with the X86_64 instructions from AMD? I have no idea where they came from 😉 However don’t think there’s nothing left to argue about…absolute performance, performance/watt and so on. I have to admit a stab of sadness at the Intel/Sun announcement, BTW, if only because it signals the ongoing slide of the computing world toward being an x86-only club.

  • 4. Chris Ridd  |  January 27, 2007 at 6:10 pm

    Although there’s some talk of Sun switching from SPARC to Intel, I think that’s quite unlikely – Intel has nothing like the Niagara chips in the x86 area.

    I’m almost certain this is just a switch from AMD to Intel on their x86/x64 boxes. Which as you say makes sense from the performance point of view. Though I wonder how they’re going to address the lack of Hypertransport by going Intel.


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