Intel Wisely Embraces Open-Source Threat
VTune helps make the most of hardwareyou remember, the stuff Intel sells.With Intels midmonth announcement of a Linux version of its VTune Performance Analyzer (see www.intel.com/vtune), the company facesand even embracesthe open-source threat to the Wintel axis. Spending time with VTune, looking under the hood at whats happening to code when it runs, makes a person recognize two things. First, a Pentium-family chip is an extraordinary machine; it keeps a scary number of plates spinning at once, while still making computing look as easy to most programmers as it was when a simple flowchart could describe what was going on.
Second, though, comes the painful discovery that there are a lot of ways to do things wrongnot producing incorrect results but wasting the processors power by creating worst-case scenarios instead of writing code that really moves. For example, branches in code are a bad thing on a Pentium 4 chip, with its 20-stage pipeline that needs to be refilled if the processor guesses wrong about which way the flow will go. VTune helps make the most of hardwareyou remember, the stuff Intel sells.