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flat assembler > Heap > Intel's X86: Approaching 40 & Still Going Strong (patents!!)


What do you think about this situation?
I am naive and didn't know Intel had so many patents.
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
I thought software emulation wasn't patentable!
40%
 40%  [ 2 ]
I hate Microsoft!
20%
 20%  [ 1 ]
AVX-512, what? I still haven't learned ancient SSE2 yet!
20%
 20%  [ 1 ]
Patents are (usually) good!
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
Patents are (usually) bad!
20%
 20%  [ 1 ]
I blame Donald Trump! Everything's his fault!
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
Total Votes : 5

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rugxulo



Joined: 09 Aug 2005
Posts: 2290
Location: Usono (aka, USA)
https://newsroom.intel.com/editorials/x86-approaching-40-still-going-strong/

Quote:

Intel invests enormous resources to advance its dynamic x86 ISA, and therefore Intel must protect these investments with a strong patent portfolio and other intellectual property rights.
...
Intel carefully protects its x86 innovations, and we do not widely license others to use them. Over the past 30 years, Intel has vigilantly enforced its intellectual property rights against infringement by third-party microprocessors.
...
However, there have been reports that some companies may try to emulate Intel’s proprietary x86 ISA without Intel’s authorization. Emulation is not a new technology, and Transmeta was notably the last company to claim to have produced a compatible x86 processor using emulation (“code morphing”) techniques. Intel enforced patents relating to SIMD instruction set enhancements against Transmeta’s x86 implementation even though it used emulation. In any event, Transmeta was not commercially successful, and it exited the microprocessor business 10 years ago.

Only time will tell if new attempts to emulate Intel’s x86 ISA will meet a different fate. Intel welcomes lawful competition .... However, we do not welcome unlawful infringement of our patents, and we fully expect other companies to continue to respect Intel’s intellectual property rights. Strong intellectual property protections make it possible for Intel to continue to invest the enormous resources required to advance Intel’s dynamic x86 ISA, and Intel will maintain its vigilance to protect its innovations and investments.


I think that is in reference to this:

Quote:

At Computex 2017 in May, Qualcomm and Microsoft announced plans to launch Snapdragon-based laptops running Windows 10, partnering with HP, Lenovo, and Asus to release slim portables and 2-in-1 devices powered by the Snapdragon 835.
Post 25 Feb 2018, 01:20
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rugxulo



Joined: 09 Aug 2005
Posts: 2290
Location: Usono (aka, USA)
Post 25 Feb 2018, 01:23
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revolution
When all else fails, read the source


Joined: 24 Aug 2004
Posts: 15904
Location: SDSS J140821.67+025733.2
'Always Connected' - no thanks. I prefer something that can work offline, without MS watching everything. Do people really want MS pushing ads in their face 24/7? Maybe some do! And all this on a locked down system where the users have no access. Only "trusted" app can run. But they are not trusted by the user, it is MS that decides what is trusted. So no assembly code, no tinkering, no customising, no options, no privacy, no control.

And look at the marketing hyperbole, it is hilarious:
Quote:
It's a different era from five years' back, the speeds of the networks are infinitely faster ...
Infinitely? Not even close. Unless networks five years ago were running at zero bytes per second. Very Happy
Post 25 Feb 2018, 01:54
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rugxulo



Joined: 09 Aug 2005
Posts: 2290
Location: Usono (aka, USA)
I'm not sure of all the details, obviously.

revolution wrote:
'Always Connected' - no thanks. I prefer something that can work offline, without MS watching everything. Do people really want MS pushing ads in their face 24/7? Maybe some do!


AFAIK, this is targeted at corporate users. Not sure exactly, maybe this doesn't have wifi, hence no wireless, only "always on" (wired) Ethernet. The battery life is supposed to be much better than x86 (although IIRC even Chromebooks brag about getting roughly 10 hours).

revolution wrote:

And all this on a locked down system where the users have no access. Only "trusted" app can run. But they are not trusted by the user, it is MS that decides what is trusted. So no assembly code, no tinkering, no customising, no options, no privacy, no control.


The whole point of contention (although that link doesn't mention it) is Win32 (userland, IA-32) emulation while the OS and native drivers are all AArch64. Granted, maybe even Win32 stuff (e.g. PhotoShop) has to be gotten from the store.

Or maybe it's like those Win 10 S devices, competing against Chromebooks. In those cases, it was probably moreso to keep costs down (less functionality = less cost) and (barely) better security (no need for antiviruses, everything's already scanned): $50 to upgrade to Pro edition and be able to run anything from outside the store.

revolution wrote:

And look at the marketing hyperbole, it is hilarious:
Quote:
It's a different era from five years' back, the speeds of the networks are infinitely faster ...
Infinitely? Not even close. Unless networks five years ago were running at zero bytes per second. Very Happy


Well, for instance, fifteen years ago was (IIRC) when I first got 3 Mbps, nowadays on 15 Mbps (since a year or two), which is slow compared to most people. So maybe they meant improvements like that. Indeed, with online gaming and UHD/4k and Netflix, bandwidth is much faster/better than in the old days. Even consoles (e.g. PS4) update GBs worth of game patches over network nowadays.
Post 25 Feb 2018, 02:22
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revolution
When all else fails, read the source


Joined: 24 Aug 2004
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Location: SDSS J140821.67+025733.2
rugxulo wrote:
AFAIK, this is targeted at corporate users. Not sure exactly, maybe this doesn't have wifi, hence no wireless, only "always on" (wired) Ethernet. The battery life is supposed to be much better than x86 (although IIRC even Chromebooks brag about getting roughly 10 hours).
The link discusses affordable data plans and battery lifetimes, so I thought it was aimed at the general public. Since the public are the most price sensitive and complain about battery life. And the whole issue of "integrated" batteries itself is making it a disposable device, and thus it is expected to be a short lived status symbol until the next shiny new thing replaces it.
rugxulo wrote:
Well, for instance, fifteen years ago was (IIRC) when I first got 3 Mbps, nowadays on 15 Mbps (since a year or two), which is slow compared to most people. So maybe they meant improvements like that. Indeed, with online gaming and UHD/4k and Netflix, bandwidth is much faster/better than in the old days. Even consoles (e.g. PS4) update GBs worth of game patches over network nowadays.
Yes, but that isn't even close to infinite. If there is a link to less marketing hyperbole and more actual facts then perhaps things can make more sense.
Post 25 Feb 2018, 03:09
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rugxulo



Joined: 09 Aug 2005
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Location: Usono (aka, USA)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_Internet_connection_speeds

But, you know, they still sell dialup! I'm aghast at the price since it's almost useless. I guess very very light browsing and email would be "better" than nothing?? But the price feels ridiculously high for such low speeds. For instance, Earthlink will apparently give you a year (in advance) of 56K for "only" $14.50/month! Ugh!

EDIT: I don't want to be entitled or spoiled or demand much. I don't demand 900 Mbps for $0.05/year or anything ridiculous. But seriously, is 56K even enough to visit basic websites in reasonable amounts of time? I guess you can always just go to the local library! Seriously, dialup is not what I'd call "acceptable" bare minimum since nobody tries to minimize download size of anything anymore.


Last edited by rugxulo on 25 Feb 2018, 03:31; edited 1 time in total
Post 25 Feb 2018, 03:28
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revolution
When all else fails, read the source


Joined: 24 Aug 2004
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Location: SDSS J140821.67+025733.2
rugxulo wrote:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_Internet_connection_speeds

But, you know, they still sell dialup! I'm aghast at the price since it's almost useless. I guess very very light browsing and email would be "better" than nothing?? But the price feels ridiculously high for such low speeds. For instance, Earthlink will apparently give you a year (in advance) of 56K for "only" $14.50/month! Ugh!
Which is a good reason for such people to disable all the extraneous stuff like JS. Wink
Post 25 Feb 2018, 03:30
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rugxulo



Joined: 09 Aug 2005
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Seems I missed this part, it's all very confusing to me.

Quote:

Qualcomm and Microsoft's "Always Connected" PCs aim to bring the on-demand connectivity we now expect from our smartphones and tablets to our laptops and hybrid devices.

Rather than wasting time and hampering productivity due to sleep states, start-up requirements and the need to find and connect to Wi-Fi networks, the product range aims to give users "always connected" access to the mobile networks with up to Gigabit LTE connectivity.


So this is just a spiritual successor to (dead) Windows phones?
Post 25 Feb 2018, 03:48
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Tomasz Grysztar
Assembly Artist


Joined: 16 Jun 2003
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The fate of Transmeta was really saddening to me. I liked the idea.
Post 25 Feb 2018, 11:00
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Furs



Joined: 04 Mar 2016
Posts: 1201
I voted "I thought software emulation wasn't patentable!". Most likely it's just a scare tactic. Too bad they're up against a larger corporation hah.
Post 25 Feb 2018, 13:15
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rugxulo



Joined: 09 Aug 2005
Posts: 2290
Location: Usono (aka, USA)
Wikipedia wrote:

Intel had also for a number of years been embroiled in litigation. US law did not initially recognize intellectual property rights related to microprocessor topology (circuit layouts), until the Semiconductor Chip Protection Act of 1984, a law sought by Intel and the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA). During the late 1980s and 1990s (after this law was passed), Intel also sued companies that tried to develop competitor chips to the 80386 CPU. The lawsuits were noted to significantly burden the competition with legal bills, even if Intel lost the suits. Antitrust allegations had been simmering since the early 1990s and had been the cause of one lawsuit against Intel in 1991. In 2004 and 2005, AMD brought further claims against Intel related to unfair competition.
Post 25 Feb 2018, 22:13
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rugxulo



Joined: 09 Aug 2005
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Location: Usono (aka, USA)
Tomasz Grysztar wrote:
The fate of Transmeta was really saddening to me. I liked the idea.


Don't feel too bad! They apparently went crying all the way to the bank.

Wikipedia wrote:

In October 2006, a Transmeta lawsuit was filed against Intel for patent infringement on computer architecture and power efficiency technologies. The lawsuit was settled in October 2007, with Intel agreeing to pay US$150 million initially and US$20 million per year for the next five years. Both companies agreed to drop lawsuits against each other, while Intel was granted a perpetual non-exclusive license to use current and future patented Transmeta technologies in its chips for 10 years.


And yet they won tons of lawsuits and got tons of money and still folded into someone else and then failed (2009, see Wikipedia).

I know this is a naive statement, but money makes everything worse. And I swear, even when they win lawsuits, big companies often give up. Maybe it's too stressful, maybe they retire early, dunno.
Post 25 Feb 2018, 22:20
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rugxulo



Joined: 09 Aug 2005
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Just to state the obvious, even if you hate patents and lawyers, sometimes it's considered wise to use them defensively. But I'm out of the loop, so even that sounds strange to me.

I would imagine that SSE2 is a good baseline for emulation purposes, and those should be (almost?) expired by now. Maybe I'm overly optimistic, but I think most (all?) developers can live without.

I swear, patents are almost a trap: lure people in, make all their data rely on it, and then you control them by leash for 20 years (e.g. file systems, video codecs, ISAs, APIs, etc). I'm sure someone somewhere has a good invention that actually significantly helps people, even for a price well worth the money, but most others? Ugh.
Post 25 Feb 2018, 22:35
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Tomasz Grysztar
Assembly Artist


Joined: 16 Jun 2003
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Location: Kraków, Poland
rugxulo wrote:
Tomasz Grysztar wrote:
The fate of Transmeta was really saddening to me. I liked the idea.

Don't feel too bad! They apparently went crying all the way to the bank.
In this case what saddens me is not the fate of the people, but simply that we don't have any Crusoe-like CPUs as a competition to Intel/AMD nowadays.
Post 26 Feb 2018, 06:18
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rugxulo



Joined: 09 Aug 2005
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Location: Usono (aka, USA)
Tomasz Grysztar wrote:
In this case what saddens me is not the fate of the people, but simply that we don't have any Crusoe-like CPUs as a competition to Intel/AMD nowadays.


No dynamic emulation, no, due to patents.

I know it's pointless fragmentation, but if someone needed SIMD that badly, they would just have to define their own (incompatible) variants. Honestly, it's no worse than checking CPUID for other billions of features anyways.

Vortex86 from DM&P is still sold (as embedded i586 apparently w/o FPU, originally from Rise). So there are clones of older cpus, and that's perfectly legal. Maybe I'm naive, but I think most developers can live without SIMD.
Post 26 Feb 2018, 14:33
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