A Historical Look at the VAX: DEC, NVAX, Alpha and Competitors [Part II] online

Article: A Historical Look at the VAX: DEC, NVAX, Alpha and Competitors
By: David Kanter (dkanter.delete@this.realworldtech.com), July 10, 2006 11:18 am
Room: Moderated Discussions
Michael S (already5chosen@yahoo.com) on 7/10/06 wrote:
---------------------------
>David Kanter (dkanter@realworldtech.com) on 7/10/06 wrote:
>---------------------------
>>Hey Everyone,
>>
>>We have a new article online that is a real treat. The second part of John Mashey's analysis of the VAX is now up:
>>
>>http://www.realworldtech.com/page.cfm?ArticleID=RWT062006031650
>>
>>In his first article, Dr. John Mashey examined the economics of microprocessors
>>and computer systems. In this second article, Dr. Mashey takes a retrospective
>>look at the microprocessor world in the early 1990’s when the VAX was declining,
>>and RISC architectures were on the rise. In particular, he demonstrates the significant
>>performance advantage of early RISCs over the VAX, and how this put DEC into a very difficult situation product-wise.
>>
>>The first article can be found at:
>>http://www.realworldtech.com/page.cfm?ArticleID=RWT012406203308
>>
>>
>>If you want to brush up.
>>
>>The third part of the article may take us a little while to get into shape, because
>>it is the most technically deep and complicated. However, we look forward to bringing it out in the future.
>>
>>I'd like to thank John for letting us reprint the article, and also thank Bob Colwell,
>>Andy Goldstein and several others for their input.
>>
>>Enjoy,
>>
>>
>>David
>
>
>Couple of questions and comments:
>1. Assuming there is no Alpha, was it possible for DEC to acquire MIPS and use
>it exclusively for technical workstation and supercomputer market? How much faster
>could MIPS go with access to DECs fabs and the advantage of >vertical integration?

Yes, and in fact, I've heard from several folks who were at DEC that this would have been the smartest thing to do (in hindsight). IIRC, DEC actually had a $1-2B/year business of MIPS based systems, which promptly disappeared after they announced the Alpha.

>2. In-order superscalar VAX doesn't sound like a great idea. But scalar super-pipelined
>implementation seem to fit VAX rather well. With DEC resource constrains and once
>again assuming there is no Alpha) was it possible to develop simultaneously (with
>2y phase shift) R4K-class superpipelined VAX and PPro-class >out-of-order superscalar VAX?

I think that was John's point. No there was no possibility. DEC had about 100 designers, which is enough for a shrink and a new uarch.

>3. Were NVAX BSB and FSB on par with Ev4?
>Intuitively I would think that VAX not necessarily needed >Pentium-class core to
>deliver Pentium-class or better performance. With >multimegabyte cache (or caches,
>like in PA-RISC) on the back-side-bus, 128bit FSB and >bigger thermal and power budget
>even inferior core was likely to win most enterprise and >even some integer and FP
>benchmarks over Pentium. Of course in case NVAX >infrastructure was already on par
>with Alpha my intuition (trained in post-memory-wall edge) >is completely wrong.

I don't know.

DK
< Previous Post in ThreadNext Post in Thread >
TopicPosted ByDate
A Historical Look at the VAX: DEC, NVAX, Alpha and Competitors [Part II] onlineDavid Kanter2006/07/09 11:21 PM
  A Historical Look at the VAX: DEC, NVAX, Alpha and Competitors [Part II] onlinerwessel2006/07/10 02:36 AM
  A Historical Look at the VAX: DEC, NVAX, Alpha and Competitors [Part II] onlinePaul DeMone2006/07/10 05:12 AM
    21164David Kanter2006/07/10 07:11 PM
      21164Paul DeMone2006/07/10 07:50 PM
        21164David Kanter2006/07/10 08:35 PM
  A Historical Look at the VAX: DEC, NVAX, Alpha and Competitors [Part II] onlineLinus Torvalds2006/07/10 07:58 AM
    A Historical Look at the VAX: DEC, NVAX, Alpha and Competitors [Part II] onlinePaul2006/07/10 10:20 AM
  A Historical Look at the VAX: DEC, NVAX, Alpha and Competitors [Part II] onlineMichael S2006/07/10 10:53 AM
    A Historical Look at the VAX: DEC, NVAX, Alpha and Competitors [Part II] onlineDavid Kanter2006/07/10 11:18 AM
  A Historical Look at the VAX: DEC, NVAX, Alpha and Competitors [Part II] onlineTzvetan Mikov2006/07/10 02:09 PM
    On-chip L2 cacheMichael S2006/07/10 02:49 PM
    A Historical Look at the VAX: DEC, NVAX, Alpha and Competitors [Part II] onlineDavid W. Hess2006/07/10 03:21 PM
    A Historical Look at the VAX: DEC, NVAX, Alpha and Competitors [Part II] onlinePaul DeMone2006/07/10 03:26 PM
      Thanks for all responses (NT)Tzvetan Mikov2006/07/10 04:01 PM
  A Historical Look at the VAX: DEC, NVAX, Alpha and Competitors [Part II] onlinePeter Lund2006/07/11 12:46 AM
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