Linux on P6-200 or Alpha-166?

Linux on P6-200 or Alpha-166?

Post by Bruce Smit » Wed, 25 Sep 1996 04:00:00



Hi all,

I'm looking to buy a new PC to run Linux (2.0.20) and found a
good price on a Alpha box (166 MHz).  I have no experence with
any Digital hardware and was wondering if someone could give
me an idea how the speed of that Alpha box would compare with
a P6-200 (pro).  Does Linux take advantage of the 64 bit Alpha?

Is there anything else I should watch out for with the Alpha box?
Is all the same hardware supported (as on Intel)?  
Do all the executables (ELF & a.out) run without recompiling?
Any other problems with the Alpha?  Or should I play it safe
with an Intel i386 based machine?  (I don't care about running
MS Windows or Dos -- I know the Alpha will run NT if I need it).

---

I also have my eye on a DUAL P6-150 (Intel MPS).
Does Linux support this?

--------------------------------------------

System Administrator / Network Administrator
Armstrong International, Inc.
Three Rivers, Michigan  49093  USA
--------------------------------------------

 
 
 

Linux on P6-200 or Alpha-166?

Post by Paul Rub » Wed, 25 Sep 1996 04:00:00



Quote:>Hi all,

>I'm looking to buy a new PC to run Linux (2.0.20) and found a
>good price on a Alpha box (166 MHz).  I have no experence with
>any Digital hardware and was wondering if someone could give
>me an idea how the speed of that Alpha box would compare with
>a P6-200 (pro).  Does Linux take advantage of the 64 bit Alpha?

I bet you are looking at one of those old desktop Alphas, the Multia
or UDB (same box).  These are based on the 21066 processor, not the
newer and much faster 21164 or 21164a.  The Multia/UDB is a nice box
but it is in nowhere near the same league as a P6/200.  It is like a
P5/75 or so at best in integer performance, with the floating point
aybe a bit faster.

Aside from that Linux runs nicely on it.

 
 
 

Linux on P6-200 or Alpha-166?

Post by Keenan A. Forbe » Wed, 25 Sep 1996 04:00:00



> Hi all,

> I'm looking to buy a new PC to run Linux (2.0.20) and found a
> good price on a Alpha box (166 MHz).  I have no experence with
> any Digital hardware and was wondering if someone could give
> me an idea how the speed of that Alpha box would compare with
> a P6-200 (pro).  Does Linux take advantage of the 64 bit Alpha?

        64 bit support is listed under current Linux projects.... It's not
available now, but probably will be rapidly supported.... as Linux has
been very pro-Alpha in the past.

Quote:> Is there anything else I should watch out for with the Alpha box?
> Is all the same hardware supported (as on Intel)?

I know there are differences in the floating point box, but they
shouldn't affect you unless you're doing really funky IEEE stuff:
exception handling, infinities, Nan's etc are handled by the OS in
Alpha, rather than on chip... Intel and Alpha have also made slightly
different choices on a few places in the IEEE std (754... I can't
remember off the top of my head) that could affect rounding... Nan's
propogate differently, etc.  I doubt you care about this unless your
doing highly specialized math...

Quote:> Do all the executables (ELF & a.out) run without recompiling?

I don't think so (though I'll defer to someone more knowlegable on the
subject than I)  Linux on the Alpha DOES support executing ALPHA
binaries (.coff) though I don't know much about the support.

Quote:> Any other problems with the Alpha?  Or should I play it safe
> with an Intel i386 based machine?  (I don't care about running
> MS Windows or Dos -- I know the Alpha will run NT if I need it).

        --Keenan Forbes
 
 
 

Linux on P6-200 or Alpha-166?

Post by Mark Smit » Thu, 26 Sep 1996 04:00:00



writes:

Quote:

> > Do all the executables (ELF & a.out) run without recompiling?
> I don't think so (though I'll defer to someone more knowlegable on the
> subject than I)  Linux on the Alpha DOES support executing ALPHA
> binaries (.coff) though I don't know much about the support.

Fraid not. Alpha is a different chip architecture with a different
instruction set. Alpha specific linux binaries will run directly,
but intel specific linux binaries will not - you will need to
recompile from source.

As per the original question as to performance, I would guess that
you are better off the the P Pro unless you are heavily floating
point orientated. Just being looking at Alphas here at work,
and the newer generation (21164?) clocked at 300Mhz is about
equivalent to a PPro at 200Mhz on integer stuff. Of course it
blows the PPro away on fp!

TTFN,

Mark.

--



  The views above do not necesarily represent those of my employers.

 
 
 

Linux on P6-200 or Alpha-166?

Post by Larry Smit » Thu, 26 Sep 1996 04:00:00



> I bet you are looking at one of those old desktop Alphas, the Multia
> or UDB (same box).  These are based on the 21066 processor, not the
> newer and much faster 21164 or 21164a.  The Multia/UDB is a nice box
> but it is in nowhere near the same league as a P6/200.  It is like a
> P5/75 or so at best in integer performance, with the floating point
> aybe a bit faster.

I would rate integer performance at more like P5/100 - but
the alpha was specifically designed to optimize floating
point operations, in that respect it will be more like a
P5/166.  Also recall that P5's are 32 bit machines, and
the alpha is 64 bit - and Linux is quite capable of _using_
it _as_ a 64 bit machine.  Most operations will run appre-
ciably faster, comparisons of raw calculation speed don't
tell the whole story, IMHO.
 
 
 

Linux on P6-200 or Alpha-166?

Post by Colin Wils » Thu, 26 Sep 1996 04:00:00



>As per the original question as to performance, I would guess that
>you are better off the the P Pro unless you are heavily floating
>point orientated. Just being looking at Alphas here at work,
>and the newer generation (21164?) clocked at 300Mhz is about
>equivalent to a PPro at 200Mhz on integer stuff. Of course it
>blows the PPro away on fp!

This hasn't been my experience at all, for our application our PPro 200 is
1/2 the speed of our 21064 based 275 MHz Alpha (old generation chip).  I
haven't finished with the performance evaluation, but I'm quite
disappointed so far.  We aren't likely to buy more PPros for this use...
(No it isn't particularly floating point intensive, it's memory intensive)

Colin
-----
Colin Wilson                      |     A mind once stretched by a new idea
Dept of Molecular Biotechnology   |     never regains its original dimension.
University of Washington          |               - Oliver Wendell Holmes
Box 357730
Seattle, WA  98195-7730

 
 
 

Linux on P6-200 or Alpha-166?

Post by Mark Ra » Thu, 26 Sep 1996 04:00:00



Quote:>I'm looking to buy a new PC to run Linux (2.0.20) and found a
>good price on a Alpha box (166 MHz).  I have no experence with
>any Digital hardware and was wondering if someone could give
>me an idea how the speed of that Alpha box would compare with
>a P6-200 (pro).  Does Linux take advantage of the 64 bit Alpha?

If you're looking at the UDB for about $800, it's a good deal (IMO) so
you can play with a non-intel processor, but it's nowhere near the
performance of a P6/200.  On the other hand, for a machine with built-in
SCSI, ethernet, TGA video and 24MB RAM, $800 is much less than half of what
you'll pay for the PPro.

Quote:>Is all the same hardware supported (as on Intel)?  

PCI cards should mostly work.  There's no ISA bus, and one PCI slot.
From what I understand, there are some PCI cards that make Intel
assumptions so won't work on alpha, but I think these are rare.  I've
heard of problems and successes with the 2 PCMCIA slots, so I don't know
how what hardware works in them.

Quote:>Do all the executables (ELF & a.out) run without recompiling?

Not even.  It's a different architecture.  You need axp binaries,
although both ELF and a.out work as containers for these binaries.

Quote:>Any other problems with the Alpha?  Or should I play it safe
>with an Intel i386 based machine?  (I don't care about running
>MS Windows or Dos -- I know the Alpha will run NT if I need it).

If cost isn't an issue and you're more interested in something than
"just runs", stick with Intel.  If you like to hack and want to try an
Alpha, the UDB is pretty cool.
--

My other computer is a DEC Alpha AXP.
 
 
 

Linux on P6-200 or Alpha-166?

Post by Wolfgang Wande » Fri, 27 Sep 1996 04:00:00




> >As per the original question as to performance, I would guess that
> >you are better off the the P Pro unless you are heavily floating
> >point orientated. Just being looking at Alphas here at work,
> >and the newer generation (21164?) clocked at 300Mhz is about
> >equivalent to a PPro at 200Mhz on integer stuff. Of course it
> >blows the PPro away on fp!

> This hasn't been my experience at all, for our application our PPro 200 is
> 1/2 the speed of our 21064 based 275 MHz Alpha (old generation chip).  I
> haven't finished with the performance evaluation, but I'm quite
> disappointed so far.  We aren't likely to buy more PPros for this use...
> (No it isn't particularly floating point intensive, it's memory intensive)

To add my 2cents...

In our applications (30%FP, 70%Integer - large scale high energy physics
analysis) we also see a nice equivalence between the 300MHz 21164 Chip in
an SMP 8200 Alpha and the PPro200. Of course the SMP (Dec calls it
Shared Memory Processing) takes some power away from the 8200 system which
on the other hand makes the price/permance ratio even worse for DEC.

         Wolfgang

--
   _/  _/ _/  _/ _/_/_/ . Wolfgang Wander  HERMES Collaboration

 _/_/_/ _/_/_/ _/     . Notkestr. 85     Tel: +49 40 8998 4638  Fax: -4034
_/_/_/ _/_/_/ _/_/_/ . 22603 Hamburg    WWW: http://dxhra1.desy.de/wander.html

 
 
 

Linux on P6-200 or Alpha-166?

Post by Markus Rantan » Fri, 27 Sep 1996 04:00:00




>> Hi all,

>> I'm looking to buy a new PC to run Linux (2.0.20) and found a
>> good price on a Alpha box (166 MHz).  I have no experence with
>> any Digital hardware and was wondering if someone could give
>> me an idea how the speed of that Alpha box would compare with
>> a P6-200 (pro).  Does Linux take advantage of the 64 bit Alpha?
>    64 bit support is listed under current Linux projects.... It's not
>available now,

  YES IT IS!!!!!!!!!

  Linux on Alpha is a true 64 bit implementation!!

  Has been for quite a while too!!!!!

  Markus Rantanen

 
 
 

Linux on P6-200 or Alpha-166?

Post by Michel Duffa » Sat, 28 Sep 1996 04:00:00


Quote:>>> I'm looking to buy a new PC to run Linux (2.0.20) and found a
>>> good price on a Alpha box (166 MHz).  
>>        64 bit support is listed under current Linux projects.... It's not
>>available now,

>  YES IT IS!!!!!!!!!

>  Linux on Alpha is a true 64 bit implementation!!

>  Has been for quite a while too!!!!!

   Hello,would you mind if tell where you have find inexpensive alpha
motherboard?(we have all the others boards used with it- PCI-)

  and what price?
,
 and windows NT on other partition could be a good deal too  !
(please d'ont strike my head !)

 
 
 

Linux on P6-200 or Alpha-166?

Post by Albert D. Cahal » Sun, 29 Sep 1996 04:00:00



>> As per the original question as to performance, I would guess that
>> you are better off the the P Pro unless you are heavily floating
>> point orientated. Just being looking at Alphas here at work,
>> and the newer generation (21164?) clocked at 300Mhz is about
>> equivalent to a PPro at 200Mhz on integer stuff. Of course it
>> blows the PPro away on fp!
> This hasn't been my experience at all, for our application our PPro 200 is
> 1/2 the speed of our 21064 based 275 MHz Alpha (old generation chip).  I
> haven't finished with the performance evaluation, but I'm quite
> disappointed so far.  We aren't likely to buy more PPros for this use...
> (No it isn't particularly floating point intensive, it's memory intensive)

Why:

Normal Alpha hardware comes with 2 MB of cache, while the normal PPro
has only 256 kB. An Alpha with 256 kB is not worth owning. You can get
the PPro with 512 kB cache (rare) and the Alpha with 8 MB cache.

Normal Alpha chips have a 256-bit path to memory. Normal PPro chips
have only a 64-bit path, and I think it is slower too.

There are Alphas sold with 256 kB cache and a 64-bit path to memory.
They are not worth owning. If you will get an Alpha, start with a
300 MHz chip with 2 MB cache. If you need it, there is a 500 MHz Alpha
with 8 MB of cache. The PPro is limited to 200 MHz.
--
--
Albert Cahalan
acahalan at cs.uml.edu (no junk mail please - I will hunt you down)

 
 
 

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