Tag Archives: Intel

Intel recalls the days of Alpha, PA-RISC and Itanium

TO THE CHARLOTTE STREET HOTEL, in Fitzrovia, to listen to what Intel had to say about its Xeon 5500 (Nehalem) launch and to customer testimonials.

I stayed at Myhotel Bloomsbury, next to a pub, and which used to be a cop shop. I bumped into Paul Hales and Sylvie Barak from Register Two, who were there, too.

Gathered in front of an assembly of British hackdom was Tom Kilroy, from Intel Stateside, who described the launch of the 5500 series as the most important launch since the Pentium Pro.

Ah! The Pentium Pro! I still somewhere have a keyring with a Pentium Pro and cache attached. Intel was forced, as I recall, to re-engineer this chip because there was a problem with the cache. Think someone from Compaq tipped me off on that, all those years ago.

This set me thinking quite a lot. Kilroy wheeled in people from the London Stock Exchange, from Thomson Reuters, and naturally its customers such as Dell and HP – curiously not Big Blue – gave their sales pitches too.

Kilroy was here (left)

Kilroy was here (left)

And as I thought of the implications of what Kilroy said – I couldn’t help wondering, of course, about the Itanium, a question formed in my mind, from whence it came, no one knows.

After showing us various benchmarks, which appeared to suggest that this was the best microprocessor Intel had ever fabricated, we had to start wondering about the Alpha chip “good until 2025” – said Richard George when he worked for DEC, and the PA-RISC chip. Because Intel seemed to be suggesting that this truly was a “mission critical CPU”. Why else would Mark Reece from the London Stock Exchange be there, otherwise?

The Hidden Agenda

The Hidden Agenda

After Kilroy told us that this was part of the “tick tock”  Captain Hook style Intel cadence,  we Brithacks sat patiently, waiting for the Q&A which never seemed to come.

The master of ceremonies eventually allowed a brief Q&A and pointed at me, Mikus Interruptus, saying: “Tom, would you now like to answer Mike’s question about the Itanium?”

Unfortunately my mind had moved on by then and I thought that perhaps a better question was how the financial meltdown had affected Intel’s business.

Said Kilroy: “Certainly there’s been an impact on demand”. The MC said: “Mike, we’re in our quiet period right now.”  Too late!

We finally got a chance to ask our question about whether “Nehalem” was a better chip than the Itanium, but phrased it whether it was a better chip than the PA-RISC chip – obviously with the Power 6 from IBM in mind. IBM was not, officially, represented at this gig.

Mr Kilroy said that the question didn’t really compute, because the Itanium offered stuff like RAS and you couldn’t compare a chip like the Nehalem with the Itanium.

Later, we had a chance to speak to a friend close to Hewlett Packard who told us it had told its customers last September the game was over for PA-RISC. But, we asked, it would have to support customers like the US government on both the PA-RISC chip and the DEC Alpha chip?  Yes, he admitted, that was true. The customers had the latest roadmap.

Do not forget, of course, that Carly Fiorina and the then CEO of Compaq, Mike Capellas, transacted an agreement that meant that, er, er, all things federal about microprocessors – apart from IBM – would belong to HP.

We bumped into a guy called Hugh Jenkins, who now works for the Great Satan of Hardware (Dell Inc). He said that of course Dell still uses AMD microprocessors for some of its server business. Er, BT seems to be an Intel only place, as far as we could tell.

Funny old business this, isn’t it? Intel served bucks fizz (mimosa) at the end. We’d already made our excuses and exeunted stage left before that was served.   

* Spotted from  other Magee spawned websites: Sylvie Barak (INQster), Chris Mellor (Rogister).

So Intel’s Craig Barrett is off

I SEE from both the IT Examiner and The News that Craig Barrett has decided to retire.

Barrett was a master of process, but not particularly good at marketing. His wife is already well known in her own right. The family is obviously well connected.

But he is a courteous guy. I once asked an Intel  man called Yu a question and he turned a little nasty. Barrett is a kind of diplomat.  He said: “I think what Albert Yu meant…”

A gentleman and a dude farmer and good fisherman.

BT’s latest iniquity emerges

I WAS WAITING in for the gas man today – the gas man did not cometh – but a special delivery tipped up through the post.

It was a special delivery from British Telecom, that firm has decided I need very special advice to set up my BT Broadband in Oxford.

Sorry, not a very good sunset tonight in Oxford for my loyal one  reader, Doctor Drashek.

(Picture above, right now,  from left to right: Charlie Demerjian from the INQster [see no evil], Rupert Goodwin  [hear no evil], and a man from Intel [speak no evil] who can’t stop laughing – picture taken near  the special cigarette factory Mao-tse Tung used to have). Cigarette smoking in public places was banned in Taiwan on the 15th of January this year.

Intel’s Pat Gelsinger kicks in this video

AIDED AND ABETTED by Mad Mike Magee,  we managed to get Intel’s Pat Gelsinger to kick. In this little videoette, below. At the very end of the video, you can hear yours truly exhorting Pat to  kick, kick. Sorry we’re not a cameraman, this is as good as it will ever get, it’s raw. 

Mikey Dell gets out of factories

IT’S A SEA CHANGE, Dell Inc getting out of building PCs. The report on www.itexaminer.com, following one on the Wall Street Journal,  speculates that Dell will flog off its factories to third party contractors.

It makes sense, but only if you understand how PC assembly works. For Dell. We visited Dell’s places in Ireland quite a few years ago, and they have it to a tee. It’s a just in time build model, so the resistors and everything else are in place just as they’re needed, and according to orders received.

No one who buys a Dell cares where it is built, whether it’s in Chennai or Limerick. Buyers want a bog standard desktop, server or notebook, and it’s got to arrive on time, at a given price, and the rest.

The bigger question is when Dell sells off its assembly units to Whoever Inc, what will happen on the support front? In Bangalore there’s a massive Dell call centre. Will Dell sell that off too? Does anyone need PC support these days? Or is everything so simple and straightforward that it’s like plugging in a microwave? [No, Ed.]

Next time you buy a Dell, if Dell goes through with its plans, you probably won’t have a clue where it’s been built or what’s in it. But never mind, you never did have much of a clue anyway when you bought a Dell, where it came from, did you? And you really didn’t care. Chip manufacturers, take note.  

Crank Ensemble weirds out Intel folk

ON THE LAST day of the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) we specially were interested to go see the Crank Ensemble, a performance art group. That’s because we’d get to meet Lena Strayhorn, a friend of ours, and one of the ensemble.

We were very interested in the music and we were also very interested in the reaction of the IDF delegates to the performance art. Some said to us, “only in San Francisco”, but we liked their stuff, met most of the ensemble, and liked all of them too.

Here’s an example clip we took on our little digicam. 

South Africans give me the bird

ON MY RIGHT, on the non-connecting Ibahn network today was Brett Haggard, a South African who may or may not be related to Rider Haggard of the famous King Solomon’s Mines.

On my left is Mark Davison, a Scot who is now a South African citizen. Brett, who works for a company called Hypertext 100, kindly showed me how to work the Sony cam. Mark, on the left, showed his disapproval of the new trends in journalism. As you can see, again, sorry about the quality, feel the bandwidth, Ibahn.

Ibahn puzzled at lack of Intel connection

HOW STRANGE life can be. We were listening to Intel geezers and geezerettes “keynoting” in the Marriott today, and noticed that we had a total lack of what is apparently called connectivity.

I chatted to an Intel lass. She summoned an Intel technician from the vastness that is the Marriott, who checked out this Panasonic PC and tried everything I’d already tried.

The Intel technician then summoned two Ibahn engineers from the vastness of San Francisco, and they puzzled over the enigma that was my non connection.

Nonplussed, they all shook their heads and clucked like plumbers but couldn’t find anything on my laptop that would prevent me connecting. I had tried everything before they tried.

Andy Grove, he said, only the paranoid survive. Could it be that perhaps any PC that belongs to yours truly is blocked from Internet access at an Intel gig? Surely not?

INQUIRER editor gives Examiner editor the bird

THE FIRST PUBCAST has come to pass but it has happened here, on my very own bog.

Paul Hales, the editor of the INQ (founder: M.Magee) decided to join the Old Farts at the Globe Tavern opposite Baker Street yesterday evening.

Hales wasn’t a happy bunny. But at least he had the grace to respond to our request for a live interview, complete with sound effects. Just a second later, he grinned and gave us the finger twice. But we’ve cut that bit out, because this is a family bog.  The vid was produced with the fantastic Flip device – it plugs into your USB port, the sound is pretty good, and the vid quality isn’t bad either. The software is on the machine and it takes a couple of batteries which generate an hour of video. What’s inside this cheap device?

With apologies to Intel for the dum-de-dum-de-dum-de-dum thingie. It was playing loudly on the pub TV while we were filming. The finger is here.  

Readers ask, whose groin is that?

A FEW readers have emailed me to ask about the Intel logo in the banner picture which was above, but is now below.  Who is wearing the chino, they asked.

The answer is that the trousers belong to Doctor Craig Barrett, the chairman of the Intel Corporation. He was demonstrating “Concept PCs” at an Intel Developer Forum in Palm Springs, some years back. The good doctor is actually sitting on a Concept PC, designed as a pouffe.

So now you have your answer. And no, we’re not running that picture of Andreas Stiller sitting next to a beautiful blonde while Mike Magee gazes from behind with a jealous look in his eyes.