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Intel and Transitive team on RISC gender bender

Code spawn for Xeon and Itanic

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IDF Intel has resorted to the hardware world's take on gender bending to give the Itanium processor a fighting chance as more than a PA-RISC/Alpha replacement. The vendor this week announced a deal with emulation specialist Transitive to shift RISC code over to Itanic and Xeon processors.

Transitive will receive cash and engineering help from Intel in order to get its QuickTransit hardware virtualization products out for Xeon and Itanic by this year. In many cases, the Transitive technology should let RISC code run without modification on the x86 and EPIC products at about 80 per cent native performance. Customers can also expect to see full performance on plenty of applications, the companies said.

For years, Intel has been patting itself on the back for porting so many applications over to EPIC. Close to 6,000 apps run on the Itanic these days.

The porting work, however, has clearly not been enough with Intel looking for outside help. Numerous customers – particularly non-HP Itanic users – complain to us about a lack of software support to this day.

The work with Transitive could alleviate some of these problems by making it possible to run specialized, low volume and unported packages on Itanic. In addition, Intel could push more 64-bit interest toward Xeon by being able to run SPARC, Power, PA-RISC, MIPS and Alpha workloads. That would help avoid the Itanic conundrum altogether.

We suspect the Transistive work could be of real interest to SGI customers who have suffered through a second-class citizen status with Itanic. Intel and HP teamed to make sure most of the key Alpha and PA-RISC software made its way to Itanium, leaving SGI to fund many efforts on its own.

"One of the biggest barriers to upgrading from one computer architecture to another is just how to migrate the installed base of in-house developed software and commercial software,” said Bob Wiederhold, CEO of Transitive Corporation. “With Intel, we are focused on providing binary translation technology products to easily shift existing legacy code or application packages that have been compiled on non-Intel platforms to run without modification on Intel Itanium and Intel Xeon processor-based platforms.”

Apple is a licensee of Transitive's QuickTransit virtual processor technology, which allows anything to run on Intel x86 (and vice versa) via dynamic instruction translation. ®

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