A common problem

Article: Fall Processor Forum 2006: IBM's POWER6
By: Linus Torvalds (torvalds.delete@this.osdl.org), November 14, 2006 9:37 am
Room: Moderated Discussions
Rob Thorpe (rthorpe@realworldtech.com) on 11/14/06 wrote:
>
>What you're describing isn't much of a problem.

I disagree. It becomes a huge logistical problem.

>There are generally two types of legacy software. The
>first is that where speed does not matter because when
>the software was written processors were much slower than
>they are today, so current machines are more than adequate
>to run it.

This argument is just bogus. You're saying it's ok to run
fairly slowly, because your previous machine ran even
worse. That's simply not true, and it's also a totally
inane argument to make from a hardware design perspective.

Think of this from the perspective of the hardware
designer, who also is obviously going to sell that
hardware. Are you better off with an architecture that
might initially not be any faster (example: do the
unaligned thing as a micro-trap, no faster than doing it
with two separate instructions), but that you can speed up
existing software for in the future?

I say yes. It's much worse for everybody if old
software stays slower. Users don't want to recompile. And
hardware vendors sure as hell don't want to have users
decide not to upgrade because it doesn't help the 99% of
what they do - legacy applications.

So your argument is crazy. Legacy binaries are simply too
important to dismiss like that.

>The second is software that is old, but is still being
>maintained. The vast majority of this software is written
>in high level languages.

That's another totally idiotic argument.

People simply do not want to recompile. In many cases
they even cannot recompile themselves, and they sure
as hell don't want to pay for a software upgrade for all
their critical software. If a new CPU needs a recompile,
that new CPU is largely broken, as far as 99% of all users
are concerned.

Dammit, didn't people learn anything from the 90's
and the failure of RISC? "Just recompile" is not the
answer. It wasn't then, it wasn't now, it never will be.

(The exception being if JIT's really do become ubiqutous.
Then "just recompile" is actually a valid thing to do,
assuming the system vendor provides the JIT. We're not
really there yet except for niche products, and won't be
for likely the next decade).

>In the old days the compiler issued multiply-step code,
>then when the new processor comes out it is changed to
>issue proper multiplies.

You're ignoring another huge problem, which is the
logistical side of things. You say "just recompile", but
what you choose not to mention is that the answer is a lot
more complex than that: it's actually "just recompile with
the new architecture flag that enables the new instructions,
and make sure that you upgrade all your machines at the
same time, or that they all have their binaries maintained
separately and that your MIS department isn't actually under
any pressure already".

See the problem? The schenario you describe ("just do a
simple recompile") isn't a real-life scenario AT ALL.

In most settings, you end up with mixtures of old and new
hardware, and you end up with those mixes for a loong
time. You give new hardware on a priority basis, and the
old hardware ends up doing something else - but may well
need to run the same binaries (just more slowly).

Also, as a ISV, you don't want to sell multiple versions
of the software, you don't want to test it that way, and
your customers don't want to buy it that way. So suddenly
you're in this nightmare situation that the people who
want the highest performance and paid for a faster machine
(who are likely also the people who might pay you
more as an ISV) need to be supported, but you can't just
do it by ignoring the old architecture that doesn't do the
new instructions.

So as an ISV, you either have to go to a lot of
trouble to have parallel versions of the binaries and
automagically choose the right one at run-time, or you can
do what actually happens in a lot of cases: stay with the
old architecture for half a decade or more, and use the
new features only when you can afford to tell your customers
that the new version will only work on "new" machines (as
in "more recent than five years").

Don't tell me this doesn't happen. It happens. It happens
a hell of a lot more commonly than your crazy "just do a
simple recompile" schenario.

This is a fact. Ask any MIS person. Ask any ISV. Your
schenario is unrealistic, except in small niche markets.

People don't buy a "single machine". They don't maintain
their machines "one by one". And they don't upgrade all
their hardware at the same time.

So stop with the "just recompile" already!

It has been shown in the market to not work, and you're
glossing over all the real problems.

Linus
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                                      Language safety in a multithread environmentRicardo B2006/10/20 02:06 PM
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                                                                  Language safety in a multithread environmentRob Thorpe2006/10/27 09:06 AM
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                                                                              Why OoO stores are evil but OoO loads are o.k.?Tzvetan Mikov2006/10/30 11:55 AM
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                                                                                      A reference would be nice :-) (NT)Tzvetan Mikov2006/10/30 01:32 PM
                                                                                        A reference Michael S2006/10/30 03:37 PM
                                                                                          A reference Tzvetan Mikov2006/11/03 08:57 PM
                                                                                            check your e-mbox (NT)Michael S2006/11/04 12:47 PM
                                                                                      Why OoO stores are evil but OoO loads are o.k.?David Kanter2006/10/30 01:40 PM
                                                                                        Why OoO stores are evil but OoO loads are o.k.?Michael S2006/10/30 02:28 PM
                                                                                          Why OoO stores are evil but OoO loads are o.k.?David Kanter2006/10/30 02:43 PM
                                                                                            Why OoO stores are evil but OoO loads are o.k.?Michael S2006/10/30 04:36 PM
                                                                                              Why OoO stores are evil but OoO loads are o.k.?David Kanter2006/10/30 10:14 PM
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                                                                      Language safety in a multithread environmentRob Thorpe2006/10/31 11:25 AM
                                                                        Language safety in a multithread environmentLinus Torvalds2006/10/31 12:59 PM
                                                                          Language safety in a multithread environmentRob Thorpe2006/10/31 01:38 PM
                                                                            Language safety in a multithread environmentLinus Torvalds2006/10/31 02:02 PM
                                                                              Language safety in a multithread environmentLinus Torvalds2006/10/31 03:54 PM
                                                                                Will reply tommorrow, very busy today (NT)Rob Thorpe2006/11/01 11:14 AM
                                                                              Language safety in a multithread environmentRob Thorpe2006/11/02 01:30 PM
                                                                                Language safety in a multithread environmentrwessel2006/11/02 02:06 PM
                                                                                  Language safety in a multithread environmentGabriele Svelto2006/11/03 02:39 AM
                                                                                    Language safety in a multithread environmentLinus Torvalds2006/11/03 09:40 AM
                                                                                      Language safety in a multithread environmentGabriele Svelto2006/11/03 10:12 AM
                                                                                        Language safety in a multithread environmentLinus Torvalds2006/11/03 01:20 PM
                                                                                          Language safety in a multithread environmentGabriele Svelto2006/11/06 03:42 AM
                                                                                      Language safety in a multithread environmentEric Bron2006/11/04 04:47 AM
                                                                                        Language safety in a multithread environmentGabriele Svelto2006/11/06 04:13 AM
                                                                                      Language safety in a multithread environmentWilco2006/11/04 12:29 PM
                                                                                        Language safety in a multithread environmentRicardo B2006/11/04 02:54 PM
                                                                                        Language safety in a multithread environmentGabriele Svelto2006/11/06 03:54 AM
                                                                                          Language safety in a multithread environmentWilco2006/11/06 12:26 PM
                                                                                            Language safety in a multithread environmentGabriele Svelto2006/11/07 01:54 AM
                                                                                              Language safety in a multithread environmentWilco2006/11/07 04:34 PM
                                                                                                Language safety in a multithread environmentGabriele Svelto2006/11/08 02:29 AM
                                                                                      Language safety in a multithread environmentrwessel2006/11/04 10:13 PM
                                                                                        Language safety in a multithread environmentrwessel2006/11/04 10:23 PM
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                                                                                            unaligned SSE testsMichael S2006/11/05 03:47 PM
                                                                                              unaligned SSE testsEric Bron2006/11/05 04:23 PM
                                                                                                unaligned SSE testsMichael S2006/11/05 05:03 PM
                                                                                                  unaligned SSE testsEric Bron2006/11/05 05:28 PM
                                                                                                    Now results make sense. How about Psc? (NT)Michael S2006/11/05 05:37 PM
                                                                                                      tomorrow, it's 01:43 PM where I'm (NT)Eric Bron2006/11/05 05:44 PM
                                                                                                        I mean 01:43 AM (NT)Eric Bron2006/11/05 05:45 PM
                                                                                                      PSC scoresEric Bron2006/11/06 02:25 AM
                                                                                                        PSC scoresMichael S2006/11/06 04:28 AM
                                                                                                          PSC scoresIan Ameline2006/11/06 09:00 AM
                                                                                                            meaningful performance gainMichael S2006/11/06 09:33 AM
                                                                                                              meaningful performance gainLinus Torvalds2006/11/06 11:15 AM
                                                                                                                Dynamically resolved alignmentDavid Kanter2006/11/06 12:49 PM
                                                                                                                  Dynamically resolved alignmentRicardo B2006/11/06 01:46 PM
                                                                                                                  Dynamically resolved alignmentLinus Torvalds2006/11/06 01:48 PM
                                                                                                                meaningful performance gainEric Bron2006/11/07 02:23 AM
                                                                                                        RE: "I suppose we will have to continue to align" ...Not really :)redpriest2006/11/06 05:11 PM
                                                                                                          Your point?Michael S2006/11/06 05:47 PM
                                                                                                            Actually Michael, it's quite a bit more than that.redpriest2006/11/06 06:30 PM
                                                                                                              Actually Michael, it's quite a bit more than that.anonymous2006/11/06 08:36 PM
                                                                                                                Actually Michael, it's quite a bit more than that.Linus Torvalds2006/11/06 09:01 PM
                                                                                                                  Actually Michael, it's quite a bit more than that.Rob Thorpe2006/11/07 03:31 AM
                                                                                                                  Actually Michael, it's quite a bit more than that.anonymous2006/11/07 07:27 AM
                                                                                                              link vs linqMichael S2006/11/07 02:04 AM
                                                                                                                link vs linqanonymous2006/11/07 07:13 AM
                                                                                                                  Thank you (NT)Michael S2006/11/07 08:04 AM
                                                                                                          Barcelona dreamsEric Bron2006/11/07 01:08 AM
                                                                                          Language safety in a multithread environmentWilco2006/11/05 03:14 PM
                                                                                            Language safety in a multithread environmentRicardo B2006/11/05 03:56 PM
                                                                                              Language safety in a multithread environmentWilco2006/11/05 06:52 PM
                                                                                                Language safety in a multithread environmentRicardo B2006/11/05 09:09 PM
                                                                                                  Language safety in a multithread environmentWilco2006/11/06 02:25 PM
                                                                                                    Language safety in a multithread environmentRicardo B2006/11/06 03:48 PM
                                                                                                      Language safety in a multithread environmentWilco2006/11/06 04:44 PM
                                                                                                        Language safety in a multithread environmentRicardo B2006/11/06 04:53 PM
                                                                                                        A common problemRob Thorpe2006/11/07 09:45 AM
                                                                                                          A common problemWilco2006/11/09 04:46 PM
                                                                                                            A common problemRob Thorpe2006/11/10 08:29 AM
                                                                                                              A common problemrwessel2006/11/13 04:47 PM
                                                                                                                A common problemWilco2006/11/13 05:51 PM
                                                                                                                  A common problemRob Thorpe2006/11/14 03:38 AM
                                                                                                                    A common problemLinus Torvalds2006/11/14 09:37 AM
                                                                                                                      A common problemRob Thorpe2006/11/14 11:18 AM
                                                                                                                        A common problemagony2006/11/14 02:57 PM
                                                                                                                          A common problemrwessel2006/11/14 04:13 PM
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                                                                                                                        A common problemrwessel2006/11/16 04:27 PM
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                                                                                            And you're aiming quite highRob Thorpe2006/11/06 08:00 AM
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                                                                                      Language safety in a multithread environmentRicardo B2006/10/30 08:40 AM
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                                                                                Language safety in a multithread environmentGabriele Svelto2006/10/31 02:01 AM
                                                                                  Language safety in a multithread environmentLinus Torvalds2006/10/31 08:59 AM
                                                                    Language safety in a multithread environmentpgerassi2006/10/27 08:00 PM
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                                                                        Language safety in a multithread environmentpgerassi2006/10/31 01:32 AM
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                                                        pythonFoo_2006/10/28 01:51 AM
                                                          pythonTzvetan Mikov2006/10/28 04:55 PM
                                                            pythonFoo_2006/10/29 03:51 AM
                                                          pythonRob Thorpe2006/10/31 05:01 AM
                                        Language safety in a multithread environmentTzvetan Mikov2006/10/24 10:53 AM
                                          Language safety in a multithread environmentRob Thorpe2006/10/25 01:00 AM
                                          Language safety in a multithread environment (Lock-free structures)Ray2006/10/28 11:25 AM
                                            Language safety in a multithread environment (Lock-free structures)Linus Torvalds2006/10/28 11:58 AM
                                              Language safety in a multithread environment (Lock-free structures)Ray2006/10/28 04:47 PM
                                                Language safety in a multithread environment (Lock-free structures)Linus Torvalds2006/10/28 08:02 PM
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                                          Language safety in a multithread environmentRob Thorpe2006/10/25 04:38 AM
                                            Language safety in a multithread environmentJuho Snellman2006/10/25 06:38 AM
                                              Language safety in a multithread environmentRob Thorpe2006/10/25 07:06 AM
                                                More on this topicRob Thorpe2006/10/25 08:41 AM
                                                  More on this topicTzvetan Mikov2006/10/25 10:17 AM
                                                    More on this topicRob Thorpe2006/10/26 02:02 AM
                                                Language safety in a multithread environmentJuho Snellman2006/10/25 10:33 AM
                                                  Language safety in a multithread environmentRob Thorpe2006/10/26 01:48 AM
                                      Language safety in a multithread environmentS. Rao2006/10/23 03:40 PM
                                        Language safety in a multithread environmentTzvetan Mikov2006/10/23 11:38 PM
                                        Language safety in a multithread environmentGabriele Svelto2006/10/24 01:02 AM
                                          Language safety in a multithread environmentS. Rao2006/10/24 12:40 PM
                                        Comparison to stack allocationRob Thorpe2006/10/24 03:09 AM
                                          Comparison to stack allocationS. Rao2006/10/24 12:32 PM
                                            Exactly, see my other post (NT)Rob Thorpe2006/10/25 12:53 AM
                          Language safety in a multithread environmentDavid Wragg2006/10/20 02:46 AM
                            Language safety in a multithread environmentTzvetan Mikov2006/10/21 09:24 AM
                          Ugh, evil problemRob Thorpe2006/10/20 03:56 AM
                            Ugh, evil problemGabriele Svelto2006/10/20 04:38 AM
                              Ugh, evil problemRob Thorpe2006/10/20 05:47 AM
                                Ugh, evil problemGabriele Svelto2006/10/20 05:54 AM
                                Ugh, evil problemRicardo B2006/10/20 06:43 AM
                            Ugh, evil problemJasonB2006/10/20 06:17 AM
                              Ugh, evil problemS. Rao2006/10/20 08:09 PM
                                Ugh, evil problemJasonB2006/10/21 07:58 AM
                                SecondedRob Thorpe2006/10/23 01:53 AM
                          Copying GC Rob Thorpe2006/10/23 02:51 AM
                            Copying GC Tzvetan Mikov2006/10/23 11:13 PM
                              Copying GC Rob Thorpe2006/10/24 01:22 AM
              Python + native extensionsFoo_2006/10/18 02:29 PM
                Python + native extensionssp2006/10/19 01:05 AM
  z9 - Power5 connection?foobar2006/10/17 01:15 PM
    z9 - Power5 connection?David Kanter2006/10/17 02:03 PM
      z9 - Power5 connection?foobar2006/10/17 02:33 PM
        z9 - Power5 connection?rwessel2006/10/17 07:39 PM
          z9 - Power5 connection?foobar2006/10/17 08:38 PM
            Sounds like I should edit the article...David Kanter2006/10/17 10:48 PM
            z9 - Power5 connection?Jesper Frimann2006/10/17 11:59 PM
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How do you spell avocado?