Author Topic: [solved] how disturbing is x86? Unreal-Mode!!!  (Read 12074 times)

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Online DiTBhoTopic starter

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Re: how disturbing is x86? Unreal-Mode!!!
« Reply #50 on: June 17, 2023, 11:23:00 pm »
I had a couple of 16 bit program I used a lot but they wont run now.

Yup, there is a modified version of DosBox that runs on RiscOS v6/32bit modern ARM.
The Video Games performance is outstanding to the point you don't not any glitches.
I think DosBox on GNU/Linux can run dos/16-bit applications on AMD64.



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Offline SiliconWizard

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Re: [solved] how disturbing is x86? Unreal-Mode!!!
« Reply #51 on: June 18, 2023, 12:30:18 am »
The reason Intel abandoned the i960 is relatively simple and summed up in the Wikipedia article.
It was tightly linked to them acquiring StrongARM, all a consequence of a lawsuit with DEC, etc, which basically replaced  the i960.

The PXA (Xscale, ARMv5TE) used by Sharp for their PDA line? Intel ARM ... is only a part of the reason, and not reported in any Wikipedia article,

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intel_i960
 

Online DiTBhoTopic starter

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Re: [solved] how disturbing is x86? Unreal-Mode!!!
« Reply #52 on: June 18, 2023, 01:55:58 am »
Quote
Intel's i960 (or 80960) was a RISC-based microprocessor design that became popular during the early 1990s as an embedded microcontroller. It became a best-selling CPU in that segment, along with the competing AMD 29000. In spite of its success, Intel stopped marketing the i960 in the late 1990s, as a result of a settlement with DEC whereby Intel received the rights to produce the StrongARM CPU. The processor continues to be used for a few military applications.

Indeed I cannot see any of the "notes" I was talking about, except in the proofreading of the page where what I'm talking about wiki-columnists are still deciding whether or not to put it in the article because they are not sure.

Unfortunately, I wasn't with the folks in the trenches, but from what a couple of seniors I spoke to get some i960 development stuff told me, there seems to have almost been an outcry among developers, and years later it happens the same when Intel disbanded its XScale ARM division completely.

Facts:
- Intel acquired StrongARM from DEC in 1996
- Intel rebranded it as "XScale"
- Intel sold XScale to Marvell in 2006
- Intel invested in Atom(1) as the new low-power product line
- Intel announced the Atom/Bonelli architecture in 2008

The intel core strength seems:
- focus on IA-32, rather than a "competing" architecture i960
- focus on IA-32, rather than a "competing" architecture ARM

So, it seems that the Intel leadership has repeated the same error of judgment first with i960 and then with Arm, plus a third error of judgment, even in the opposite direction (allocating money to a wrong solution), with Itanium.


(1) Atom was designed to compete with things like AMD's Geode mounted on the Soekris router that started this topic. The circle closes right here.
« Last Edit: June 18, 2023, 02:11:55 am by DiTBho »
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Offline David Hess

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Re: [solved] how disturbing is x86? Unreal-Mode!!!
« Reply #53 on: June 18, 2023, 12:42:20 pm »
The intel core strength seems:
- focus on IA-32, rather than a "competing" architecture i960
- focus on IA-32, rather than a "competing" architecture ARM

So, it seems that the Intel leadership has repeated the same error of judgment first with i960 and then with Arm, plus a third error of judgment, even in the opposite direction (allocating money to a wrong solution), with Itanium.

Considering Intel's success, I would hardly call the first two errors in judgement, and I think the lack of success with Itanium shows that.  Supporting x86 means AMD is Intel's only x86 competition.  If they had gone with an Intel alternative like i960, then they would have lost a majority of their customers.  If they had gone with ARM, then they would have lost a large majority of their customers and be competing with many other ARM producers.  X86 is still paying Intel's bills.

Even Itanium with hardware support for x86 emulation was not able to displace x86, although I think Intel really wanted it to.  That was their attempt to ditch x86.

There is still a thriving market for expandable x86 personal computers, workstations, and servers, but there is no such market even now for ARM.  Apple sure does not count; the Apple equivalents of my x86 workstations with massive expandability going back three or four generations do not exist, and such an ARM alternative has never materialized.  Texas Instruments had some potential processors for such a system but they abandoned that market a couple years ago.

If anything replaces x86 personal computers, workstations, and servers, I suspect it will be cloud based services which have the advantage of massive scaling and economy of scale.

 
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Online DiTBhoTopic starter

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Re: [solved] how disturbing is x86? Unreal-Mode!!!
« Reply #54 on: June 18, 2023, 12:45:48 pm »
Considering Intel's success

sure, success ... worst intel cpus  :popcorn:

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Online DiTBhoTopic starter

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Re: [solved] how disturbing is x86? Unreal-Mode!!!
« Reply #55 on: June 18, 2023, 12:52:29 pm »
There is still a thriving market for expandable x86 personal computers, workstations, and servers, but there is no such market even now for ARM.

Sure, indeed my Boss's Ampera 80 cores workstation is what? ARM/64? With what? eight 4xePCI and two 8xePCI slots?
And what about the new RPI-CM-based boards with one or two miniPCIe slots?

Times are changing, wait a few years, and it will be even more competitive  :D
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Online DiTBhoTopic starter

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Re: [solved] how disturbing is x86? Unreal-Mode!!!
« Reply #56 on: June 18, 2023, 01:16:04 pm »
the Apple equivalents of my x86 workstations with massive expandability going back three or four generations do not exist, and such an ARM alternative has never materialized.

My Boss's IBM-Tyran POWER9 workstation is superior by every means to every XEON-based workstation.
Consumes less electricity, it's more efficient and has the same expandability in terms of the number of PCIe slots, and it's even more reliable than XEON and its multi-core mechanisms are more robust.

Only three problems
1) only produced in the US, you have to export, and it's *VERY* expensive (~2x the price for a XEON PC)
2) there are only two OS: AIX(1) and GNU/Linux (3)
3) GPUs don't work correctly and cards that have x86 firmware usually just don't work(2)


(1) wanted and paid for by DARPA for government agencies
(2) that's why I have no sympathy for PCs at all, because they rarely/never respect the specifications, and so the fleet of devices available only on the PC platform is concentrated, which in fact does not allow other platforms to thrive.
(3) POWER is ~PPC64 (subset), I do support the Linux Kernel and Gentoo/PPC64, so my boss has full open-source support for her workstation! Lucky woman and I'm fortunate too, to have been in charge of technical support!
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Offline james_s

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Re: [solved] how disturbing is x86? Unreal-Mode!!!
« Reply #57 on: June 18, 2023, 05:45:21 pm »
Again, the same policy from the ruling class, and that's exactly the point: they didn't want to do anything except x86 because, according to them, x86 would bring in more money.

The funny thing is that they are so bad at evaluating things that they then invested in Itanium and today have to pay AMD a lot of money to be allowed to produce x86-64.

Which is LOL  :-DD

x86 *did* bring in more money, it brought in huge amounts of money, it has dominated the marketplace for decades and absolutely crushed everything else that has tried, nothing else has even come close. Have you looked at the sales numbers? More x86 processors have been sold than every other desktop/laptop/server CPU combined, not because they are the best technologically but because they offer something nothing else does, compatibility. It's odd that you completely ignore the fact that Intel has for decades been the most successful and profitable CPU company in the world by a HUGE margin, and despite losing some of their luster in recent years as the PC market saturated they are still dominant. In what reality is that stupid? They are so bad at evaluating things that they have been a massively successful multi billion dollar company for decades. I wish I were that bad at evaluating things  :-DD

Itanium ironically just further proves the point that Intel should have just stuck with x86 because that was their bread & butter and that's where the money was. They tried to develop something new and different and like so many before them, they failed miserably. The history of computing is littered with failures, and so is business in general. Success sometimes involves taking risks and sometimes those risks lead to failure, it happens, it takes a warped view of reality to take that one failure as an indication that the company is overall bad at what they do.
 

Offline james_s

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Re: [solved] how disturbing is x86? Unreal-Mode!!!
« Reply #58 on: June 18, 2023, 05:49:30 pm »
My Boss's IBM-Tyran POWER9 workstation is superior by every means to every XEON-based workstation.
Consumes less electricity, it's more efficient and has the same expandability in terms of the number of PCIe slots, and it's even more reliable than XEON and its multi-core mechanisms are more robust.

Can it run Adobe creative suite? Can it run Altium? Can it run Vivado? Solidworks? Can it run games that require Windows? If it can't do those things, then it is not superior if those are things you need a computer to do. The best most technologically advanced computer in the world is absolutely useless if it can't run the software you want to use. Normal people don't care how the computer works, they want to run software.
 

Offline james_s

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Re: [solved] how disturbing is x86? Unreal-Mode!!!
« Reply #59 on: June 18, 2023, 05:51:49 pm »
sure, success ... worst intel cpus  :popcorn:

Once again you completely ignore their massive financial success and cherry pick some of the turds they've produced. Do you not realize that any company exists for only one reason, to earn a profit? Look up how much profit Intel has earned over the past 40 years and tell me with a straight face that they have not been successful.
 

Online CatalinaWOW

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Re: [solved] how disturbing is x86? Unreal-Mode!!!
« Reply #60 on: June 18, 2023, 10:35:12 pm »
I'm not sure what drives DiTHBo's hatred of the X86 family.  He is not wrong about some of the difficult issues, but those don't explain the level of antipathy.

The answer for X86s success isn't as simple as compatibility.  If any of you remember the Intersil 6100 processor, it was designed to emulate Digital Equipment Corporations PDP-8 which was part of the dominant minicomputer line of the era.  There was more software available for that family, and more trained programmers than for virtually any other computing system.  While it didn't totally fail, it did not take the market by storm.  If software compatibility was the dominant issue it would have owned the market.

I suspect that plain old FUD marketing also played some role in X86 survival.  This is in some way like compatibility, but is its own unique niche.  Desktop computing is littered with the corpses of failed attempts.  Companies don't want to invest in something that will be unsupportable in just a few years.  Most business applications last decades or more.  The thought of starting over on interfaces, staff training, software and the whole nine yards is terrifying.  So looking forward will you be able to buy another or a replacement for your computing widget.  AFAIK only two families have a positive track record in this regard.  X86 and Apple.  X86 does it with hardware compatibility.  Apple with a closed ecosystem and a lot of work, that still leaves some holes as they went from 68000 to PowerPC to X86 to custom.
 

Offline Ed.Kloonk

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Re: [solved] how disturbing is x86? Unreal-Mode!!!
« Reply #61 on: June 19, 2023, 12:58:42 am »
I've been too scared to mention byte order.
iratus parum formica
 

Offline magic

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Re: [solved] how disturbing is x86? Unreal-Mode!!!
« Reply #62 on: June 19, 2023, 05:24:18 am »
not sure what drives DiTHBo's hatred

I sort of know or suspect but won't post publicly :P
 

Offline SiliconWizard

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Re: [solved] how disturbing is x86? Unreal-Mode!!!
« Reply #63 on: June 19, 2023, 06:30:24 am »
So, it seems that the Intel leadership has repeated the same error of judgment first with i960 and then with Arm, plus a third error of judgment, even in the opposite direction (allocating money to a wrong solution), with Itanium.

You're assuming, even claiming, that this was an error. But Intel is still here, and financially well off. Is this an error?

As to the Itanium, there were some pretty interesting things in that. The reason it failed is more complex than just it being "the wrong solution". It just didn't meet its market and by the time it was close to good enough, it was too late.

You seem pretty angry with Intel and seem to think you would have done better. Not very humble, but oh well.

As to the difficulties of decision-making in large corporations with a ton of legacy, as I suggested before, "The innovator's dilemma" is a great book.
Helps understand why often only newcomers can disrupt markets with really new solutions, while the well established companies are more or less cornered into iterative developments rather than real innovation.
 

Offline Nominal Animal

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Re: [solved] how disturbing is x86? Unreal-Mode!!!
« Reply #64 on: June 19, 2023, 07:27:02 am »
I'm not sure what drives DiTHBo's hatred of the X86 family.  He is not wrong about some of the difficult issues, but those don't explain the level of antipathy.
As I see it, the answer is both simple and complicated at the same time.

Consider all the old hardware developments, and all the various architectures that generated the real innovations.

Was MS-DOS an innovation?  Heck no, it was quite a step backwards compared to what the architecture ended up being capable of, but because of backwards compatibility and other business reasons, ended up being a construct of compromises than a clean design.

Was Windows an innovation?  Heck no.  You can look at Xerox Alto and then Apple Mac OS for innovations in that area.

The key innovation, perhaps, was how IBM allowed clones of their x86-based PC's, while retaining compatibility.  Thus, the reason for the success and prevalence of x86 isn't so much because of technical reasons, but because of business choices.  Not exactly VHS versus Betamax, but you get the idea.

Why the antipathy, then?  What is the difference whether something becomes popular because of technical ability or just business choices?  Popular is popular.
The complex answer to that is the same as why some people do woodworking only with hand tools, or metalworking with half-a-century or older tools, instead of CNC'ing it all.  There is inherent beauty in the now-rejected technologies, that makes it a joy for some of us (well, not me, but DiTBho) to work with them.

It is complex, because it can be hard to understand why someone would use nearly century old tools to do actual work, but also happily draw plans for them using latest 3D CAD software.  There are many aspects to the reasoning, with possibly the 'inherent beauty' and admiring and appreciating technologies that were rejected not because of their own failures, but because of business and cultural reasons, at the heart.

Me, I differ in that I do not perceive that beauty myself – although I can perceive others perceiving it –, and just treat most of these things as tools.  They make it possible for me to do things I otherwise could not.  Woodworking and cooking is special to me only because the tactile and olfactory information cuts straight through the analytical part of my mind, directly affecting my mood and emotional state, thus giving me a tool to not be a slave to the analytical part of my mind.  (I did use to paint, and especially draw with wax pastels on dark canvases, but I haven't been able to do that in the last 15 years or so for some reason.)
So, I can certainly understand the antipathy, even if I do not feel strongly about the issue myself.
 

Online DiTBhoTopic starter

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Re: [solved] how disturbing is x86? Unreal-Mode!!!
« Reply #65 on: June 19, 2023, 09:03:33 am »
I'm not sure what drives DiTHBo's hatred of the X86 family.  He is not wrong about some of the difficult issues, but those don't explain the level of antipathy.

A lot of reasons, but it's very simple and I have already mentioned that I design ICEs.
When architecture has ~1000 instructions is nothing but pain.

compatibility

everyone repeats it, over and over - compatibility - and what do you want? Atom x86 even on smartphones? to be binary compatible with your PC? Would you like to run DOS on your smartphone?

LOL  :-DD

no one sane would put an x86 on phones and tablets because it sucks about power consumption, when we talk about ARM and Intel's decision to decommission Xscale, we talk about this, and I don't understand why we need to bend reality to justify that it was objectively - by facts - a wrong choice by the leadership Intel, as all phones and tablets use ARM!

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Online DiTBhoTopic starter

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Re: [solved] how disturbing is x86? Unreal-Mode!!!
« Reply #66 on: June 19, 2023, 09:14:34 am »
You're assuming, even claiming, that this was an error. But Intel is still here, and financially well off. Is this an error?

I am assuming nothing, I am talking about facts!
From financial articles, Itanium and Atom were two big financial flops for intel itself.

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Online DiTBhoTopic starter

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Re: [solved] how disturbing is x86? Unreal-Mode!!!
« Reply #67 on: June 19, 2023, 09:42:37 am »
Was MS-DOS an innovation?

recently the Microsoft DOS sources have been published ... a design that to call "mediocre" and "not innovative at all" is not to be bad but objective.

retaining compatibility.  Thus, the reason for the success and prevalence of x86 isn't so much because of technical reasons, but because of business choices

Yup, precisely.
Popular is popular  :o :o :o

So, I can certainly understand the antipathy, even if I do not feel strongly about the issue myself.

Talking about "compatibility" I still have some customers' embroidery machines with DOS-based software, but not DOS/Extended mode like the DukeNuken3D engine (protected mode), stuff that runs in real mode, and I let you imagine how happy it makes me hear the managers say "ah, well, just change the x86 mobo with a modern one, it's compatible, won't it be a problem, will it?"

I am rarely so sure!

Their software runs in real mode, it's very ugly when you have to patch it, and I have to because replacing a 486 SBC with a (AMD) Geode introduces a series of problems on the bus. Not to mention incompatibilities with BIOSs.


My bootloader takes about 408 bytes for the first stage, and about 25Kbytes for the second stage but only because it contains a monitor and a network stack, if you look at bootloaders like Grub, or Lilo and wonder why they are so full of code while offering fewer features? (neither grub nor Lilo offers a monitor, Lilo doesn't even have tftp, grub .. if you want) ... well, you realize that many more lines of code are needed to keep up with all the various inconsistencies between different PC BIOS.

Worse if you look at the BIOS of XEON machines, and worse if you look at how XEON machines, supposedly flagship intel stuff, do their multicore work.

Frankly, I would be really worried about their reliability if I had to write my own kernel/metabare application.

While I have no fear with POWER9 as just two lines of code are enough and if I'm sure it's a strong solution, with intel ... after reading five manuals of 300 pages each, I still haven't found anything that makes me feel less worried.

PCs, from the BIOS to the bootloaders to the kernel, require too many patches, and too many layers on top of each other.

And that's what bothers me a LOT, plus all the difficulties to debug, and worse still, designing a debugger without going nuts!

Now think that in C it's not even safe to write a library for thread support.

It's not a problem for 80 Core ARM/64 Ampera, not a problem for 64 Core POWER9, literally less than 100 lines of assembly, but how the hell do you do it on multi-core XEON machines?

Respect for Linus, and for the patience the developers have!
« Last Edit: June 19, 2023, 10:58:51 am by DiTBho »
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Offline David Hess

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Re: [solved] how disturbing is x86? Unreal-Mode!!!
« Reply #68 on: June 19, 2023, 01:05:12 pm »
retaining compatibility.  Thus, the reason for the success and prevalence of x86 isn't so much because of technical reasons, but because of business choices

Yup, precisely.
Popular is popular  :o :o :o

There were plenty of poplar systems available when the IBM PC was released and they did not survive.  The IBM PC plus MS-DOS, or CP/M-86 if you remember, was already compatible with the existing base of 8080/8085/Z80 CP/M systems, so there is that compatibility thing again.  CP/M was already being used for business and development systems and Intel and IBM leveraged off of that.

Was MS-DOS an innovation?  Heck no, it was quite a step backwards compared to what the architecture ended up being capable of, but because of backwards compatibility and other business reasons, ended up being a construct of compromises than a clean design.

MS-DOS and CP/M-86 did not do anything that CP/M did not, but they did do it better while maintaining a level of compatibility.  CP/M itself was pretty good for what it did.

Quote
Was Windows an innovation?  Heck no.  You can look at Xerox Alto and then Apple Mac OS for innovations in that area.

I did not consider Window usable until Windows 95.  The only application that I ran on Windows was Mathematica.  I much preferred Desqview for business applications and development.

I've been too scared to mention byte order.

X86 byte order stores least significant byte first so that multiword operations can proceed starting with the word pointed to by the pointer.  It also allows operations with multiple data widths to use the same pointer.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2023, 05:30:52 pm by David Hess »
 
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Offline james_s

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Re: [solved] how disturbing is x86? Unreal-Mode!!!
« Reply #69 on: June 19, 2023, 05:01:43 pm »
You're assuming, even claiming, that this was an error. But Intel is still here, and financially well off. Is this an error?

I am assuming nothing, I am talking about facts!
From financial articles, Itanium and Atom were two big financial flops for intel itself.

So? Those are two examples of where Intel tried to do something new and failed, and yet if they hadn't tried to do something new you would criticize them for that too. They had those two fairly high profile failures, and a whole lot of successes, overall they have been extremely successful. Name one CPU company that has earned more profit since inception than Intel.
 
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Offline james_s

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Re: [solved] how disturbing is x86? Unreal-Mode!!!
« Reply #70 on: June 19, 2023, 05:13:20 pm »
I'm not sure what drives DiTHBo's hatred of the X86 family.  He is not wrong about some of the difficult issues, but those don't explain the level of antipathy.

Mental illness I suspect, I'm not qualified to diagnose anybody but it is certainly not rational behavior.

Also his job is apparently doing something extremely esoteric that involves low level programming requiring him to deal with all these ugly hacks that 99.9999999% ofPC users never sees. Of course if not for the difficulty of this low level development he may well be out of a job, if it were as easy as it is with some more modern architectures there would be a lot less reason to pay somebody good money to do it, engineering is relatively highly paid specifically because it is hard. He completely ignores the fact that x86 has been by far the most successful CPU architecture in the world in terms of units sold and profit earned and the fact that companies exist precisely to sell products and earn as much profit as possible, not to further some ideological agenda. Countless companies have introduced superior machines over the years and they have all failed, every single one that he has mentioned the virtues of is an obscure niche in the PC/workstation world. As the saying goes, the biggest enemy of "the best" is "good enough" and x86 has been good enough to sell billions of chips. I suspect he was not born yet during the PC revolution when all this early development was taking place.
 

Offline james_s

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Re: [solved] how disturbing is x86? Unreal-Mode!!!
« Reply #71 on: June 19, 2023, 05:20:53 pm »
everyone repeats it, over and over - compatibility - and what do you want? Atom x86 even on smartphones? to be binary compatible with your PC? Would you like to run DOS on your smartphone?

LOL  :-DD

no one sane would put an x86 on phones and tablets because it sucks about power consumption, when we talk about ARM and Intel's decision to decommission Xscale, we talk about this, and I don't understand why we need to bend reality to justify that it was objectively - by facts - a wrong choice by the leadership Intel, as all phones and tablets use ARM!

No, who has said that? That's called a strawman argument. Absolutely nobody is saying x86 makes sense on a smartphone, smartphones are totally different than PCs, they have totally different use cases and needs. Power efficiency and compactness are of the utmost importance on a smartphone, they have closed ecosystems so compatibility with legacy software isn't needed. Nobody wants to run Photoshop, Solidworks or some obscure DOS based utilities on smartphones. Nobody runs Windows games on smartphones. This is precisely why more modern CPUs like ARM have dominated on smartphones, it's a totally new platform with a totally new ecosystem so backward compatibility isn't needed. There is only one person in this thread that is bending reality and that is you.

Desktop/laptop PCs must have compatibility with mainstream software to sell, do you seriously think otherwise? Can you name one single alternate architecture for desktop/laptop workstations or servers that has been as successful? (success = profit)
 

Offline T3sl4co1l

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Re: [solved] how disturbing is x86? Unreal-Mode!!!
« Reply #72 on: June 19, 2023, 06:00:49 pm »
Mental illness I suspect,

Aaaand any rational argument, any hope of convincing the other party of your position, is gone.

(Actually you probably did that with your earlier reply but you're really doubling down now.)

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Bringing a project to life?  Send me a message!
 
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Offline Monkeh

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Re: [solved] how disturbing is x86? Unreal-Mode!!!
« Reply #73 on: June 19, 2023, 06:04:30 pm »
Mental illness I suspect,

Aaaand any rational argument, any hope of convincing the other party of your position, is gone.

(Actually you probably did that with your earlier reply but you're really doubling down now.)

Tim

Now we're completely off the rails: Hitler would have loved x86.
 
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Offline james_s

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Re: [solved] how disturbing is x86? Unreal-Mode!!!
« Reply #74 on: June 19, 2023, 06:23:33 pm »
Mental illness I suspect,

Aaaand any rational argument, any hope of convincing the other party of your position, is gone.

(Actually you probably did that with your earlier reply but you're really doubling down now.)

Tim

I gave up seriously trying to convince him a long time ago when it became blatantly obvious that his mind was made up, he was not interested in rational discussion and would simply deflect and ignore anything that didn't support his strange assertions and unhinged rants. I don't have any other explanation for such bizarre and irrational behavior, do you? Everyone else here knows why x86 has been successful, agrees that it has been extremely successful and understands that the warts it has are due to business decisions that made sense at the time they were done. The fact that it has absolutely dominated the entire marketplace for decades, sold billions of units and remains dominant today while numerous technologically superior platforms have failed due to not offering compatibility speaks for itself. Compatibility is king, everyone else knows that, if a PC can't run existing software then it fails to sell, even if it's "better" because without software any computer is useless no matter how good it is, we've seen that over and over and over. The only time and new and different approach has succeeded is when it's a new and different application (smartphones, tablets) where existing software doesn't matter. This is just fact.

There's just no rational explanation I can think of for claiming that such an enormously successful business was not a success or that it was run by idiots because they didn't do what other companies that failed did means they didn't know what they were doing, and the arrogance in thinking that had he been calling the shots 40 years ago he could have done better.
 


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