Agner`s CPU blog

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Web Parallels
Author:  Date: 2010-01-04 10:12
Really fascinating article. I've generally deferred to open source compilers, like GCC, but that's largely been because of preferring open source to proprietary software when possible. I'd not realized that Intel was doing this in their compilers, which is a major concern for me, since I purchased an Intel desktop processor for home use in well over a decade.

What I found most interesting, is how this seems to parallel a fight we've been having in the web development community a lot over the last five years or so, on the benefits of feature detection versus browser detection. I'll defer to Nicholas Zakas' explanation here: www.nczonline.net/blog/2009/12/29/feature-detection-is-not-browser-detection/

Now, on the web it's a bit trickier, web browsers' behaviour tends to be considerably more variable than x86 behaviour across different vendors, but ultimately, the desire is the same. Check what is supported, and select code-paths based on what's supported, not based on whether you're on IE or Safari or Firefox, etc. And the bad design is generally made by the developer, not some third-party vendor (though not always, as Nicholas talks about in his post).

I'm going to be publicizing this issue, to the best of my ability, since I think it's important that people understand the implications of choosing to use Intel's compiler, which is otherwise quite high quality. And, while I didn't understand why the antitrust suit was filed by the US government when it was announced, I'm certainly far more interested in it's outcome than I was before.

 
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