a good volunteer

P T Withington ptw@pobox.com
Thu, 1 Oct 1998 10:14:08 -0400

On 9/29/98 12:15, Kragen wrote:

>>   The reality is that current PC platforms are too cheap to make
>>   a custom solution worthwhile unless some real performance wins
>>   can be demonstrated.
>I think that's why Symbolics keeps going bankrupt.  (Not that Open
>Genera isn't worthwhile -- I haven't tried it.)

Symbolics never had deep enough pockets to use "cutting edge" processes 
for its chips (heck, they couldn't even make chips initially).  As a 
result, the "commodity" CPU's always had better bang/$, even though they 
had less absolute bang.

What will be interesting is whether Sun can overcome this issue with its 
picoJava-based chips.  The picoJava architecture contains many of the 
features of the Ivory Lisp chip:  fast instruction traps, stack cache, 
"no overhead" write barrier.  It's missing the "no overhead" read barrier 
and tagged data, but it's a start.