The Wrong ISA

This morning I saw this article, Itanium Consortium Looks to Ease SPARC/Solaris Migration. 'The Itanium Solutions Alliance, will take advantage of Transitive's QuickTransit technology, which enables applications written for Sun Microsystems' RISC-based platform to run on the Itanium architecture without having to make source code or binary changes.'

Sounds a bit strange to me, several questions run thru my mind:
  • What is the market for migrating applications off of Solaris/SPARC onto Linux/Itanium?
    • Transitive Emulator Ports Sparc/Solaris Apps to Linux on Xeon, Itanium
      I guess one big customer is all it takes or some special funding:
      'Transitive, a startup that has created a sophisticated emulator for running software for one computer architecture on other architectures, got backing from Intel, the tongues started wagging that Intel had given Transitive money to create a version of its emulator to support the porting of Solaris/Sparc applications to Intel Xeon and Itanium processors, possibly running the Linux operating system. And, indeed, this has come to pass.'
    • Not very many Itanium sells, Itanium: A cautionary tale
  • What's the performance and reliability of Transitive's software?
    • I don't understand all the technical details of the solution, but you have to wonder about the performance of an emulation solution. If something does go wrong, which ISV will provide support for their software in this type of setup?
    • Here are a couple of datapoints that show UltraSPARC IV+ outperforms Itanium2, SPECjbb2005 and SAP.
  • How many vendors are building Itanium based systems?
  • What's Intel's roadmap into the future for Itanium?
And there are so many more questions. I guess the, Itanium Solutions Alliance, would want you to believe they are the right ISA. I hope our Solaris/SPARC customers know better.

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