...And anyone noticed also that:
1) When Apple uses Intel processors, we say "-wishes do come true!"
2) When Apple uses ATI graphic pipelines we say: "-Oh!!! ...That means it’s screaming fast. Up to 256MB GDDR3 graphics memory!!!"
3) When Apple uses to have on their site the yin-yan logo, with the legend: "UIniversal Binary: Software just works", we said: "-oh geez!; it is a miracle... they managed to run Mac apps inside the intel-OSX!!! Geniouses!!!"
4) When Apple uses SATA drives we say: "-bloody hell!!! ...they will provide an amazing 250GB 7200-rpm Serial ATA hard disk drive!!! Cool!!!"
I didn't really mean to compare Apples to oranages
, but since I'm talking to SGI shortly about my concerns with the Prism, I'd like to address the points Diego brought up (and get some responses).
Brombear is excatly right.
1) SGI brought in faster processor (great!) but dumped a better (i.e. more robust, more parallel/scabale friendly) OS (IRIX). So we downgraded to Linux. We're hoping now that some of the functionality can be restored (e.g. real-time). Also, very little effort made to help the developer port over IRIX apps--RapidTransit=no thanks, wrong "broken" Motif version (2.2), no SGI widgets, header conflicts in shared memory arenas/semaphores, extension functions missing from OpenGL libs. No RGB image lib. The list gets longer the more we try.
2) ATI graphics cards are faster vertex processor than InfiniteReality, but in all other areas inferior (e.g. color depth, multisample, pixel read, image processing, memory size, overlays, etc...). They do however support a few more modern OpenGL extension like Shaders. Unfortunately, as I recently discovered, the drivers are wicked broke and barely work. What's more, the interface to OpenGL (i.e. SGI's openGL libs and headers) have adopted the PC cluster fuck API (extension wrangler my ass!) Shameful for a system with *known* graphics configurations!! Again, feels like a downgrade.
3) who cares? --- Taosim rules --- whatever...
4) The research I've done on SATA drives shows thay have slower seek times, less bandwidth and are less reliable than SCSI. The only thing they have going for them is that there are cheap vs. size. But if you are paying $200,000 for a supercomputer, do you really care is SGI saved $300 when they resell you drives? Hell no! ANOTHER downgrade. Whos is architecting these systems for SGI---Linux geeks fresh out of school?
Apple is a consumer product. iLife-style and all that. For hitting their mark I applaud Apple. The products are real works of art---quality in interface design, mid-level performance at an everyman cost. but SGI is trying to sell HPC. The big $$'s means you had better put something *extra* in those machines that the average high-schooler can't get off ebay. Cutting edge technology---because for real science and engineering ALL computers are way, way, WAY too damn slow. NUMA link is good, but the real-time and RASC are only marginal, and the graphics suck.
What's been eating me lately...a growing fear if you will, is an attitude that SGI has been giving me in regard to the Prism. I'm sure it due to limited resources, but I keep bumping into the attitude of either
1) It's SuSe Linux....there's nothing we can do about it.
2) It's ATI graphics...there's nothing we can do about it.
To which I find myself being forced (and I really do mean forced) into replying: "Then I'll have to find some other vendor that will provided an integrated system that performs." My only problem is figuring out where to go next for HPC---I just don't have the time to gin something together myself. That should really be SGI's targeted niche---folks with more money than time (or computer smarts
). And the systems they deliver should seem like magic---not a jumbo-size version of last year's PC trash.
One last comment: Could you see Apple saying "It's BSD unix...there's nothing we can do about it?"