Monday, November 21, 2005

VT Coverage: Predictable and Complete Confusion.

Tragically, this article has been typical of the coverage of Intel's VT release. Put-near all of these articles take the reader on the same wild ride of falsehood and sheer conjecture:
  1. A new era of virtualization has dawned! In short, no. Virtualization is exciting and important, but the era dawned in 1998, and it's now some time in the era's early afternoon. Every single one of the features that these articles describes as gauzy science fiction that Intel's boffins are struggling to bring to life is available right now, today, a phone call away, in a fully supported commercial offering from VMware. VT is nothing but an alternative technique for some of the very low-level parts of VMware's software. It makes possible exactly nothing that was not possible before.
  2. Err. Ok. But, like, hardware is fast and software is slow, so a new era of performant virtualization has dawned! Or something! As episodes like the VAX Call instruction illustrate, attempts to solve complex problems entirely with one, super-general purpose chunk of hardware are not always performance wins; software's flexibility, intelligence, and adaptability often means that it can exploit opportunities that hardware, whose development pipeline is almost an order of magnitude longer than that of software, cannot. Whether VT falls into this category remains to be seen, and we have to cut early implementations some slack, since this is, after all, first generation hardware and software, whereas VMware has been tuning its virtual machine monitor for seven years. But, simply assuming that "hardware is fast" can be ... misleading.
  3. Well. At least a new era of, maybe, more correct virtualization? Or, more simple virtualization? Throw us a bone, here. Maybe, maybe, maybe. But it will take some time to see whether these claims materialize or not.

Flame off. Deep breaths. Now seriously: is it really too much to ask that supposedly technical publications obtain some available hardware, and run some of the available software before breathlessly copying and pasting the Intel press release? Would any other piece of hardware get comparable coverage without the author ever having seen a single physical manifestation of the artifact, let alone run a real application on top of it? Can you imagine a 3D card review like this?
NVidia's new gForce 68802xLxXx has ushered in a shining new era of accelerated gaming. Imagine blowing some stuff up in Doom 7, and it looking really, really, REALLY REAL!!!! And fast. We're hoping to get our hands on one in Q106. Hopefully someone will have written a driver by then.


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