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July 9, 2002—In this issue:
- Intel Makes Its 64-Bit Case
2. HOT OFF THE PRESS
- Industry Celebrates One Billion PCs
3. KEEPING UP WITH WIN2K AND NT
- SP3 Release Rumors
- Blue Screens/System Hangs
- Get Valuable Info for Free with IT Consultant Newsletter
- Got Digital?
- Submit Top Product Ideas
5. INSTANT POLL
- Results of Previous Poll: Tablet PCs
- New Instant Poll: The 64-Bit Market
- Featured Thread: NetBIOS over TCP/IP Disabled
- Tip: What is the Windows 2000 Active Directory Migration Tool (ADMT)?
7. NEW AND IMPROVED
- Recover Inoperable Systems
- New Products Enhance Network Adapters
8. CONTACT US
- See this section for a list of ways to contact us.
(contributed by Paul Thurrott, [email protected])
A month ago, I discussed the reasons that I thought Advanced Micro Designs (AMD) might take control of the 64-bit microprocessor market with its upcoming x86-compatible Opteron processor line. This week, however, Intel announced the immediate availability of its second-generation 64-bit Itanium line, the Itanium 2, and various server and workstation systems based on that design. I recently talked with Intel Director of Enterprise Product Marketing Lisa Hambrick and offered her the chance to address the AMD challenge. Predictably, Hambrick was happy to do so, but I was surprised by her forthright dismissal of AMD's chances in the 64-bit space.
"Unlike AMD's offering, the Itanium is uniquely architected for this space," Hambrick said. "It's not a one size fits all strategy. We're targeting high reliability and scalability \[with Itanium 2\]." Hambrick cited Itanium 2's broad support with hardware and software makers as a key differentiator with the Opteron: More than 20 PC and server makers are releasing Itanium 2 systems this year, and a number of these manufacturers are providing high-end 8- to 32-processor solutions.
Regarding scalability, Hambrick said that AMD wasn't even in the Xeon space yet, let alone that of Itanium 2. Xeon is Intel's high-end 32-bit microprocessor, which the company is currently aiming at server and workstation markets. "AMD has a long way to go," she said. On the high end, Intel sees Sun Microsystems moving its RISC-based processors downmarket, a similar strategy to AMD's, which Hambrick says will also fail. "Sun wants to reach down from there, but now it has to compete in a market that doesn't value \[the\] features \[it built into its SPARC chips\]. We focused the Itanium's features on what customers want."
The Itanium 2 comes just a year after the lackluster debut of the original Itanium, which has sold poorly. In fact, the Itanium did so badly that some PC makers—notably Dell, the world's largest PC maker—walked away from Itanium-based solutions. And Dell says that it's taking a wait-and-see approach with Itanium 2. On paper, the Itanium 2 doesn't appear to offer much of an advantage: It will debut at speeds of 933MHz and 1GHz, just a hair faster than the 733MHz and 800MHz Itanium chips Intel shipped last year. But as Apple has noted vainly in its Macintosh advertising, MHz isn't everything. Intel says that the Itanium 2's performance is 1.5 to 2 times as fast as the original Itanium, thanks to its higher bandwidth system bus, larger and integrated Level 3 (L3) cache, streamlined internal design, and other improvements.
"The proof is in the numbers," Hambrick said, pointing to a chart showing performance ratings comparing Itanium 2 to the Sun UltraSPARC III. "We're 30 to 100 percent faster at one processor." Intel says that Itanium 2 offers about 1.3 times the performance at integer operations, more than 1.5 times the performance at transaction processing on 4-processor systems, and about 2 times the performance at floating-point operations, when compared with Sun's offering. And the Intel-based solutions that outperform Sun's hardware cost much less. For example, Reuters.com recently switched its structured negotiation servers from Sun to Intel with amazing results. A $50,000 2-processor Itanium 2 Hewlett-Packard (HP) server now outperforms the previous solution—a $230,000 8-processor UltraSPARC III—by a factor of four.
Two factors hampered the original Itanium chip: niche market segments and the dated 32-bit x86 platform's surprising resilience. The earlier Itanium targeted two main markets—science and engineering workstations and large database servers—because the chip's bigger pipeline improved data access throughput. But even high-end database servers, especially those running Microsoft SQL Server, usually performed better with farms of inexpensive 32-bit hardware, thanks to Microsoft's Windows platform scale out and manageability improvements.
With Itanium 2, Intel hopes to tackle both the niche market and x86 resilience concerns. First, Itanium 2's potential market segments are much greater. In addition to science, engineering, and database uses, Intel will target enterprise resource planning (ERP) and business intelligence solutions, security transactions, and other high-performance computing scenarios. Itanium 2 is better suited to these markets because it scales better than its predecessor, and more companies now offer 8-, 16-, and 32-way systems.
Second, on the software front, Microsoft is supporting Itanium 2 with new 64-bit versions of Windows XP, Windows Advanced Server Limited Edition, and Windows Datacenter Server Limited Edition; Microsoft will update the latter two products this month and update them again to final shipping versions when Windows .NET Server ships late this year. Other environments, such as Red Hat Linux and HP UX 11i are also available.
Looking to the future, Hambrick says Intel is serious about Itanium and plans to continue to update the product family. In 2003, Intel will release the next-generation Itanium, code-named Madison/Deerfield, which will bump L3 cache from 3MB to 6MB and shift the Itanium family to a more efficient 0.13 micron manufacturing process (the Itanium 2 still uses older 0.18 micron technology). In 2004, the company will introduce its Itanium "Montecito" chip, which will halve the manufacturing process to just 0.09 microns; other details are up in the air.
So that customers who purchase Itanium 2 hardware won't be abandoned when faster chips arrive in the future, Intel has made the chip upgradeable. Many potential customers skipped over Intel's first-generation Itanium products because they knew that better and faster hardware would soon replace the chips. With the Itanium 2, Intel introduces a new daughterboard design that provides a way to slide out the chip and replace it with new versions—Madison/Deerfield and Montecito—as the company releases them.
Are Intel's improvements enough to stave off AMD, with its internal Microsoft support and good press? It's too early to say, but if the apathy that accompanied the original Itanium sticks around for this generation, Intel might have some scurrying to do.
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2. HOT OFF THE PRESS
(contributed by Paul Thurrott, [email protected])
Industry analyst firm Gartner announced last week that the PC industry has shipped more than 1 billion PCs in the roughly 25 years since the first PC, the Altair, debuted in 1974. As with most PCs built since then, an Intel microprocessor—an 8-bit 8080—powered the Altair; although the power and flexibility of processors and PCs have expanded dramatically over the years. A basic Altair with 256 bytes of RAM (yes, bytes) cost about $400 in 1974, but the customer had to assemble the device, an often perilous and unsuccessful venture. Input occurred through binary switches on the device's front panel, and output occurred through binary LEDs. Ah, the good old days. For the complete story, visit the following URL:
3. KEEPING UP WITH WIN2K AND NT
(contributed by Paula Sharick, [email protected])
In response to my plea for Windows 2000 Service Pack 3 (SP3) news last week, one reader indicated that the new release-to-manufacturing (RTM) date is July 15. Paul Thurrott also sent a message in which he stated that Microsoft folks recently indicated that the final version of SP3 is slated for July 17 or July 24. However, yesterday Paul Thurrott published a news story on his Wininformant site stating that bugs in the Microsoft Installer (MSI) 2.0 code will likely further delay SP3's release. So who knows when we'll have access to this monster update, which I estimate will contain nearly 1000 bug fixes. Even so, you might want to ramp up your test environment and review your service pack testing, troubleshooting, and reporting procedures.
You might also want to start building a list of post-SP3 bug fixes appropriate for your network environment. As amazing as it sounds, Microsoft has already published 99 pre-SP4 bug reports; anything with a pre-SP4 status, by definition, is not included in SP3. If Microsoft delivers the new and improved Critical Update client and the new and improved Corporate Windows Update site concurrent with SP3 delivery, managing the next round of bugs might be faster and easier for all of us.
Paula Sharick has compiled a quick summary of blue screens you might encounter after you upgrade to SP3, plus a short rehash of two nagging browse problems she discussed last month. You can view the list of blue-screen problems at the following URL:
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5. INSTANT POLL
The voting has closed in Windows & .NET Magazine's nonscientific Instant Poll for the question, "Will a Tablet PC be a useful device for you?" Here are the results (+/-2 percent) from the 237 votes:
- 32% Yes
- 42% No
- 26% I don't know yet
The next Instant Poll question is, "Do you think Intel's Itanium 2 will offer a compelling solution in the 64-bit microprocessor market?" Go to the Windows & .NET Magazine home page and submit your vote for a) Yes, the Itanium 2 will outsell AMD's and Sun's 64-bit chips, b) No, AMD and Sun 64-bit chips will capture the 64-bit market, c) The Itanium 2 will do as well, but no better than, its AMD and Sun competition, or d) I don't know.
Pete has enabled NetBIOS over TCP/IP on his dial-up adapter. However, if he types
at a command prompt, NetBIOS over TCP/IP is disabled, which prevents him from getting to a mapped drive through a VPN connection. Offer your suggestions or join the discussion at the following URL:
( contributed by John Savill, http://www.windows2000faq.com )
The Win2K ADMT can help you migrate from Windows NT 4.0 domains to Win2K Active Directory (AD). The tool identifies possible problems before you start the migration. After migration, ADMT helps you consolidate domains, convert NT resource domains to organizational units (OUs), simplify trusts, and do many other wizard-based tasks. For more information, visit Microsoft's Web site at the first URL below or download the tool from the second URL below.
7. NEW AND IMPROVED
(contributed by Bob Kretschman, [email protected])
myEZfix announced CPR for XP/2000 2.0, a tool that lets Windows XP and Windows 2000 users quickly recover inoperable systems that suffer from severe configuration problems. CPR also has a data offload feature that supports the transfer of data from inoperable systems to USB memory key or CD-R disc. CPR for XP/2000 tracks a broad range of system components and safeguards a series of system configuration files, including the registry. The product costs $30 per license. For more information, contact myEXfix at 603-889-3883 or 800-372-9776.
SysKonnect released a series of software features and drivers for the company's SK-Net GE SK-98xx Gigabit-Ethernet Network Adapter product family. Among the new features is link aggregation, which represents a standards-based approach that releases network managers, administrators, and engineers from allegiance to any particular brand of network switch. SysKonnect also is releasing drivers for Hewlett-Packard's (HP's) HP-UX version of UNIX, as well as certification for SuSE Linux and an expanded line of Windows drivers that will include Windows XP. For more information about the new SysKonnect products, contact SysKonnect at 408-437-3800.
8. CONTACT US
Here's how to reach us with your comments and questions:
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