Intel Looks to Transitive for RISC-Enabled Chips

Emulation and translation software company Transitive announced on Tuesday it’s collaborating with Intel to drive the migration of older, RISC environments and applications that previously ran on non-Intel hardware to Intel’s Itanium 2 and Xeon processors.

Although the companies do not yet have products for sale, they expect the QuickTransit Hardware Virtualization Technology will be released this year, and will ease migration of already installed and familiar RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computer) software to newer hardware from Intel.

The announcement was viewed as both a potential boon to virtualization, and as a vague strategy that does not have the focus and appeal of previous Transitive partnerships with Silicon Graphics and Apple, according to industry analysts.

Managing RISC

Transitive maintained that the migration software addresses one of the biggest hurdles of upgrading from legacy, in-house developed and commercial software that is RISC-based.

“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,” said Transitive President and CEO Bob Wiederhold.

Intel is seeing “strong customer demand” for migration off RISC architectures, according to Intel Vice President of the Digital Enterprise Group Kirk Skaugen, who indicated the Transitive software will deliver “outstanding performance” of RISC-based binaries on Intel’s Itanium-based systems.

Virtualization Advance?

The new Transitive technology for Intel hardware is a piece of virtualization that allows the creation of machines that run both Intel code and code written for other processors, Gartner Research Vice President Martin Reynolds told TechNewsWorld.

Although such emulation and translation software does spend some performance, the older RISC applications may run relatively well with the approach because they do not require a lot of performance.

However, there is still a challenge in allowing operating systems to run both instruction sets, the code for different processor platforms, Reynolds added.

Still, the analyst predicted more of the technology if the Transitive-Intel partnership is successful.

“It’s not guaranteed, but it’s a real interesting effort, and if it succeeds, you will see more, because it gets us to any application, any operating system,” Reynolds said.

Less Focus and Substance

Compared to its other software-hardware efforts with Silicon Graphics and Apple, the recent Transitive collaboration with Intel is less substantive and meaningful for customers, Illuminata Senior Analyst Gordon Haff told TechNewsWorld.

“In the previously announced partnerships with Apple and Silicon Graphics, both were cases where a system vendor was making a move from one processor platform or processor architecture to another processor architecture,” he said. “[This] announcement is much more generic, without a whole bunch of details behind it. It’s not clear how an end user would make use of this.”

Haff did indicate that other technology from Transitive had impacted virtualization and the market, but maintained that the Intel partnership was “more of a transition type strategy.”

“I don’t really see this as part of the broader virtualization trend,” he said.

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