• Yokemate of Keyboards
    Yokemate of Keyboards
    Posts: 11243 from 2003/5/22
    From: Germany
    > the 405 (or the 440 [...]), being [...] Power ISA v.2.03 cores (roughly
    > POWER5), where the A2O is [...] Power ISA v.2.07 (roughly POWER8).

    I really don't get this fixation on Power ISA revisions. The PPC405 or PPC440 are nothing like the POWER5+, even if both are Power ISA v2.03. And likewise, the A2O is nothing like the POWER8, even if both are Power ISA v2.07. The modular way the Power ISA spec compliancy works (Books with optional parts and optional feature sets) makes the ISA revision mostly irrelevant for comparison of microarchitectures/cores. To illustrate my point, see if you can find any new feature in the v2.07 A2O compared to the v2.06 A2I that was added in Power ISA v2.07.
    There's one extremely relevant thing with Power ISA versions, namely the turning point that IBM created with Power ISA v3.0 in 2015 (see comments #88, #163, #165, #167), which prevents Power ISA v2 Book III-E cores from being used commercially (i.e. hard core, ASIC) under the royalty-free OpenPOWER v3.0C or v3.1 licenses. Thus, the v2.06/2.07 A2I and A2O cores cannot be used commercially under the license by 3rd parties unless those cores be upgraded to ISA v3.0C or v3.1 level, which includes, among other things, replacing the embedded supervisor instructions (from Book III-E of Power ISA v2) by non-embedded ("server") supervisor instructions (from Book III-S of Power ISA v2, or from Book III of Power ISA v3 or pre-v2.03 PowerPC ISA). This is quite an effort.
    As it stands, the commercial usability of A2I/A2O in the OpenPOWER context is not really there. IBM could have contributed not just Power ISA v3.0C and v3.1 but also old Power ISA v2 revisions to the OpenPOWER Foundation for 3rd party use, but they decided not to do this and I'm sure they have their reasons for this decision. Btw, IBM can as well open-source any of its Power ISA v2 Book III-S cores, like POWER5+ to POWER8, or any of its old pre-v2.03 PowerPC cores, like 40x (the 440 being the first IBM core with Book-E extensions), 6xx, 7xx, 970, Cell PPU (probably subject to consent by Sony and Toshiba, though), POWER3 to POWER5. Anything from that list is more compliant with Power ISA v3 than A2I/A2O is, and I'm still hopeful with regard to this.

    > it does not seem to feature a SIMD vector unit [...] nor an MMU?

    No SIMD, but basic MMU is there.
  • »19.09.20 - 03:43