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On Ethernet, Intel is known for their little frills, stable line of NICs. That said, they have not been a leader since the jump to 10Gbps. Their 10Gbps line eventually came along and is solid, but it was a few years behind everyone else. That same story seems to be repeating itself at every new ethernet standard over the past decade.

Come to think of it, the last decade has been really bad for Intel. They no longer have a node advantage. They no longer have a performance advantage in any market space that I can think of outside of frequency hungry low-thread applications (games).

Their WiFi chips are good, but second tier. Their Modem chips are third tier. Their node is mostly on par with the competition, for now. Their CPUs are trading blows with AMD. Their ethernet chips are a generation behind. Optane is is a bright spot, but we'll see how they squander that.

The next big diversification play by Intel is GPUs, I have no idea how that will pan out.

Optane will be squandered by limited CPU support and slim software support :c

Optane is a neat idea, but the severe change in software architecture combined with only select CPUs even supporting it will limit uptake outside FAANGs or organizations with really specialized needs.

Databases will love Optane. There have been companies showing how much they are willing to spend on database hardware and software for ages. I'm not sure that will change any time soon.

Not so sure about this. World is increasingly moving to distributed scale out databases. Once you go that way consensus algorithms and rpc costs dwarf disk io speed.

Not everyone is building apps which need to be "web scale". Optane has the potential to significantly raise the performance ceiling of a single-master database. I bet there are a lot of companies who will happily drop six figures on Optane systems if it saves them the complexity of managing a distributed database.

The niche where your present requirements are big enough to benefit from Optane and your future requirements are small enough to not need to go distributed is pretty narrow.

Finance, healthcare, and enterprise systems.

I'm not sure it's really a niche.

I've worked for a company that was willing to spend that kind of money on monolithic database servers. They were a top-100 website though, and this was the best part of a decade ago (and thus e.g. in the pre-SSD era).

They were also scrambling to move all their services away from use of that database in favour of a horizontally scaled system that could grow further.

The query rate that can be handled by a single conventional server are pretty monstrous these days. You'd have to be simultaneously a) maybe top-50 website level load (I'm well aware that there's a lot more than websites out there, but at the same time there really aren't that many organizations working at that scale, much as there are many that think they are) and b) confident that you weren't going to grow much.

The real world is much bigger than websites/apps.

It is, and I acknowledged that. But it gives a sense of the scale involved. Just as there are very few websites/apps that need to handle, what, 2000 requests/second (and simultaneously don't intend growing by more than a factor of two or so), systems that need that kind of performance in any other field are similarly rare.

Not really, it’s also not necessarily not needing to grow but not everything can scale in the same manner as Netflix or Facebook.

Financial systems especially trading platforms need to ensure market fairness they also need to have at the end a single database as you can’t have any conflicts in your orders and the orders need to be executed in the order they came in across the entire system not just a single instance.

This means that even when they do end up with some micro-service-esque architecture for the front end it still talks to a single monolithic database cluster in the end which is used to record and orchestrate everything.

That is indeed one case where a large single-node database makes a certain amount of sense (though it's not the only solution; you need a globally consistent answer for which orders match with which, but that doesn't have to mean a single database node. Looking at the transaction numbers I'd assume that e.g. the busiest books on NYSE must be multi-node systems just because of the transaction rates). But fundamentally there are what, 11 equity exchanges in the US total (and less than half of those are high-volume). And the market fairness requirements are very specific to one particular kind of finance; they're not something that would be needed in healthcare, general enterprise, or most financial applications. Like I said, niche.

That really depends on the workload.

You are correct.

Yep, exactly what I was getting at. If you have a giant database and a big budget, Optane is great. It could be really useful for smaller users too, but its unlikely to become widely popular as the average developer won't have it available in their laptop or desktop.

Optane will be seen as a really big main memory by the OS and that's it. So, I don't get why there will be severe changes in software..

Optane is not durable enough to survive as main memory, hence use cases using it as primarily read memory to avoid wearing out the cells with writes.

Take a look at how cagey Intel is acting about Optane: https://www.semiaccurate.com/2018/05/31/intel-dodges-every-q...

This is the same behaviour as with Intel's LTE chips, where promised features keep slipping (much to Apple's dismay).

The new DIMMs Intel is putting out have a RAM cache in front of the optane memory that will absorb all the churn plus a wear leveling algorithm on the writeback side. It has big enough capacitors to put all its data away in the event of power loss.


All of which looks to solve the wear problem even if it means higher price and latency.

SemiAccurate's singing a different tune this year, now that Intel has stated that the Optane DC Persistent Memory modules are warrantied for 5 years regardless of workload. Intel's gotten write endurance up to sufficient levels for use as main memory, though if you use those DIMMs as memory rather than storage, then your DRAM will be used as a cache.

Re ethernet youre spot on with 82599 and ixgbe. Cheap, plentiful, and really reasonable platform support. Its like the 2.6.18 kernel in that I expect it to be relevant for decades.

However my sidelines impression was intel got sidetracked with 40g while everyone else, especially dc network fabric land, went towards 25/100.

As long as Intel keeps fully supporting the open source Linux driver, I suspect there will always be demand for their GPUs (for people that don't need to game or do video production/etc).

Also IIRC for low end devices and battery life, Intel GPUs are play the nicest

xf86-video-intel?? Distros have been defaulting to the modesetting kernel driver for years due to the instability caused by Intel's linux drivers.

the intel drm kernel driver which the modesetting x11 ddx (not kernel driver) uses

Could you fill out those tiers? Who has better wifi/ethernet chips than Intel atm?

WiFi: Tier 1 is unquestionably Qualcomm Atheros (surprise!).

Ethernet NIC/CNA rankings(IMHO):

1. Mellanox is the pack leader right now.

2. Chelsio is right up there with them, but not leading.

3. SolarFlare and Intel bring up the middle ground.

4. Everyone else (QLogic, Broadcom, etc)

Aquantia is an unknown for me. As long as they dont suck, they'll probably go in tier 3.

Not sure if I agree. The top-end Intel Wi-Fi cards 826X/926X have excellent performance compared to almost any other card I've used. Throw in Intel's excellent Linux support and it's hard to find a better option in the laptop space.

Interested in learning more. Could you provide some sources on why Qualcomm Atheros is "Tier 1"?

I dont have any, and I'm not going to dig up some to pretend I do.

I am speaking off the cuff as someone heavily involved and interested in RF in general and WiFi/LTE in particular.

From my anecdota(shame this isnt a word), Atheros chips have better SNR and higher symbol discrimination thanks to cleaner amps, better signal discrimination logic, and tend to be on the forefront of newer RF techniques in the WiFi space. All this culminates in better throughput, latency, and spectrum utilization than anyone else.

It also helps that their support under Linux is far superior to most everything else, which helps in Router/AP/Client integration and testing.

I don't even like Qualcomm, but from my experience, you will almost always regret choosing someone else for anything but the most basic requirements.

In my experience Intel wifi, specifically in laptops, has been far and away the best wireless experience I've had on both Windows and Linux. I do not see how Intel's Linux support is second rate, Intel's Linux wifi team is very active and always has solid support for hardware before it is shipped.

A big frustration with Qualcomm wifi on Windows has been that they do not provide driver downloads to end users. If you are using a laptop that has been abandoned by the OEM and you have a wifi driver problem you have to hunt for the driver on sketchy 3rd party sites or just live with it. I have personally had to help several people find drivers because ancient Qualcomm drivers were causing bug checks on power state transitions.

What real-world experiences have you had with Intel wifi on Linux and Windows that make you believe it is second rate?

Just curious, why couldn’t you use your real account to ask this question?

This is my only account on this site.

Interesting pushback :)

Chelsio has 10GbE (and above) adapters with good reputation.

Mellanox has 40GbE (and above) adapters with good reputation.

Mellanox also have 10GbE stuff, but that's mostly older generation / legacy (low end). Not sure how the 10GbE ones are regarded.

What about Aquantia? Although I'm sad the USB 3.1 5gbit NICs never appeared.

That's not 100% correct. You can get them if you buy 500 or more. Product page: http://www.speeddragon.com/index.php?controller=Default&acti...

Available https://sybatech.en.alibaba.com/product/60793590161-80442320...

I talked to Syba USA two months ago and they said end of Q1 so I didn't pursue the idea of bringing 500 into the US and sell them. I still might. Do you know any good platforms for this sort of thing?

The other reason I didn't pursue this because the Realtek based 2.5gbps adapters are out https://www.centralpoint.nl/kabeladapters-verloopstukjes/clu... (USB A version: https://www.centralpoint.nl/kabeladapters-verloopstukjes/clu...) and I wasn't sure whether people would care enough to jump to 5gbps.


Unfortunately, I don't know 500 people who'd want one and I think shipping from the US to anywhere not-US (say, Australia) would be prohibitively expensive.

Sorry, no idea as I've never heard of them. :)

Chelsio and mellanox both have 100G with good reputations. 10G is not really something we should be comparing on anymore since it's been out over a decade.

> On Ethernet, Intel is known for their little frills, stable line of NICs. That said, they have not been a leader since the jump to 10Gbps. Their 10Gbps line eventually came along and is solid ...

I wouldn't call them solid - at least the X710. The net is full of bad experiences regarding them. They're VMware certified but are apparently really unstable on VMware; I have no personal experience with that platform. On Windows Hyper-V hosts I had the NICs repeatedly go into "disconnected" status and individual ports would straight up suddenly stop working. On Linux KVM hosts that didn't occur, at least for me.

Supposedly upgrading the firmware to a recent-ish release fixes it - I haven't had it occur after. That's understandable. What's not understandable is that the NIC was released in 2014 and the issue was resolved only in like 2018 according to the net.

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