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Showing posts from March, 2011

Redeploying Itanium Chip Designers -- Part One

The Itanium is Doomed The Itanium is doomed; of that I have no doubt. That means that soon an entire ecosystem of architects and engineers will be looking for something to do. I suggest that we move them to a 'skunk-works' where they can recharge their batteries and reflect on lessons learned from their time working with the Itanium. [As an aside, I was informally asked if I wanted to work on the Itanium in the very early days of the project. I demurred, but mostly because it could only be as an employee and I worked for myself. But for the Grace of God ...] Problems Itanium Had to Solve The Itanium was intended to replace the x86 by addressing a variety of problems with the IA32 x86 architecture. It failed entirely in that mission. In no particular order, here is an incomplete list of the x86 deficiencies as they occur to me: It was 32 bits. Without getting into what 'bitness' might mean for a processor, it was not big enough. Addressing more than 2^32 bytes was diffic

Is the Itanium Finally Dead?

The Intel Itanium was a still-born monster from day one. I had my doubts, as soon as I had any real information on that processor. When the first machines started coming out, it was clear that this was a total disaster. The Itanium was quickly named the Itanic and the name stuck. If Google's numbers are to be believed, the use of the term 'Itanic' outnumbers the use of the term 'Itanium' about 20 to 1. The product has been synonymous with EPIC (pun intended) failure almost since day one. The wonder is not that Intel is finally killing off the Itanium. The wonder is why it took so long and so much money to learn what should have been clear from the start. I published an article about the ongoing CPU struggle between AMD and Intel in 2000 (" Why Should AMD Drop Mustang? " under the pseudonym 'DeepNorth'. In the article, I say: "For the first half of 2002, Intel needs for McKinley to have such compelling performance advantages over 32-bit syst

What's the deal with the updates

Every time I attempt to load anything it has to spend a whole bunch of time doing updates. It is nice that software is so diligent in keeping up to date. I just wish it would find a way to do it without bugging me. Here's one of the most annoying. I've seen this a few times when loading FireFox: It is strongly recommended that you apply this update for Firefox as soon as possible. This has been coming up for a while now I always click next, and am presented with a message: The license file for this version could not be found. Please visit the Firefox homepage for more information. Sigh. This can be fixed, but it is *way* annoying and the fix is not something an ordinary PC user would be comfortable with doing. The short answer is to reboot and cross your fingers. There is a very long procedure that is more bothersome than just downloading the whole thing and installing a new copy. If the tortured procedure above (I am not going to put you through it) does not fix it, the last r

Windows 7 Backup does not work

Windows 7 backup often fails for a variety of reasons. You can usually troubleshoot these by the error messages that it gives you. It is torture, but it can be done. However, doing both a successful backup and then a subsequent restore if your system fails is so unlikely as to be effectively impossible. Here is the simple rule for Windows backups: they only work when you don't need them. If you look on the web for some assistance for backup and restore you will find precious little information. What you do find is all but unusable by anyone who is not an expert. If everything is well and all goes smoothly, you can use instructions at sites like Here is a page on a vanilla restore from an existing backup: Restore a windows 7 backup I am making this post because I simply *had* to use Microsoft backup on Windows 7 and I *had* to restore that backup. It did not work. There are so many things that can fail with Windows backups that it is impossible

Our education system is broken

I have struggled over the years with a persistent feeling that there is something profoundly wrong with our system of education. I expect that everyone wonders, from time to time, if we might do things better. I am increasingly of the opinion that we could do things a lot better. However, I expect that this will require some very large changes to the way we do things now. I am reluctant to criticize the way people working in a field conduct their business. I have spent a significant portion of my career examining how people do their work and I have invariably found that people are skilled, knowledgeable and conscientious. They know what they are doing better than an outsider would. Often, even though it seems from the outside that things do not work as well as they should, a closer look will reveal that the problem domain is larger and more complex than it looks and the solutions being pursued by working experts in the field are mature and effective. I have spent a lot of time