A cricket bat!
Twelve years, and four psychiatrists!
I kept biting them!
They said you weren't real.

Friday, August 21


Daily News Stuff 20 August 2020

Goblin King Edition

Tech News

Disclaimer: The Z8000 only used about twice as many transistors as the Z80, and yet supported 64-bit operations.  Impressive work.  Not sure why it's appearing as a disclaimer.

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Wednesday, August 19


Daily News Stuff 19 August 2020

Fast Page Mode Edition

Tech News

Disclaimer: Only too well.

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Daily News Stuff 18 August 2020

Old Lamps For Old Edition

Tech News

  • Looking for a 4K laptop but don't want to spend $1500 on that rather nice HP model?

    How about $559?  (Amazon)

    The Chuwi AeroBook Pro has a 15" 4K display, 8GB RAM, and a 256GB SSD.  The RAM is not upgradeable but it has two M.2 slots, one SATA which is used by the included SSD, and an empty NVMe slot.

    The CPU is a dual-core Core i5 6287U, and the graphics are...  Integrated.  So nice screen aside you do get what you pay for.

  • IBM's Power10 provides a number of cores per socket with a number of threads per core and a number of sockets per system.  (AnandTech)

    This is slightly complicated.  The chip - a 600mm2 device built on Samsung's 7nm process - comes in two variants.  The first has 15 cores and 8 threads per core - SMT8; the second has 30 cores and 4 threads per core - SMT4.

    The SMT8 cores have double the everything of the SMT4 cores - twice the execution units, twice the cache, twice the issue width, but in exchange you get half as many.  Both versions of the chip total 30MB L2 cache and 120MB L3 cache.

    The processor package itself comes in two variants, with either one or two of those dies, which in turn come in the two variants mentioned above.  These two package variants are single-chip modules - SCM - and dual-chip modules - DCM - respectively.

    A server built on SCM can have up to 16 sockets; a server built on DCM is denser but can only have 4 sockets, because some of the CPU-to-CPU links are used to link the two dies inside each socket.

    It supports PCIe 5.0, and uses an off-chip memory controller with up to 1TB per second bandwidth, so the same CPU can support DDR4 and DDR5 with the right memory controller.

  • Meanwhile the z15 is a 12-core processor with hardware gzip.  (AnandTech)

    IBM's latest mainframe CPU is built on a 14nm process - the mainframe parts are always one generation behind, deliberately - and runs at 5.2GHz.  It's not hugely faster than the z14 on standard benchmarks, but adds dedicated acceleration hardware for common bottlenecks such as sorting, compression, and encryption.

    And it has 960MB of L4 cache on a second die.

    The reason for running one of these is that it can detect hardware failures in the middle of an instruction, and swap the thread to a good core without missing a beat.

    Which means that instead of 99.9% of your problems being software rather than hardware, 99.9999% of your problems will be software rather than hardware.

    Which is in turn why companies still run Cobol.

  • Marvell's ThunderX3 delivers 60 Arm cores and 90MB of cache in a single chip.  (AnandTech)

    The cores are SMT4 as well, which Marvell says gives them a 60% performance boost on heavily-threaded workloads, for only a 5% increase in die area over a single-threaded design.  It looks like that's where much of the engineering effort went; the core is otherwise a relatively standard 4-issue design, where Arm's newest is 5-issue and Apple are doing 6-issue.

    Still, that means that ThunderX4 could add some significant single-threaded performance gains to that 60% multi-threaded improvement.

  • The memory controller on the Xbox Series X chip is bigger than the CPU cores.  (Tom's Hardware)

    Looking at that die photo, it's not even close.  Of course the chip is mostly GPU, but the CPU cores don't even make it to second place.

    Microsoft hasn't done their Hot Chip presentation yet, but released the slide deck in advance, so there will be more info on this one tomorrow.

  • Quite appropriately, a new biography of Dave Brubeck doesn't mention his birth until page 302.  (The TLS)

    Even his life story runs to unconventional time signatures.

  • Apple and Google are back to playing notice me senpai with antitrust regulators.  (Engadget)

    Epic Games - a sucky company itself - put an option into Fortnite to buy fortbux or whatever they're called without paying Apple and Google their 30% protection fee.

    Google removed Fortnite from the Play Store, though it can still be side-loaded.

    Apple removed Fortnite from the iOS App Store, from the Mac App Store, and has threatened to pull all of Epic's developer access and revoke their code-signing certificates, which would kill Fortnite for everyone who already has it installed on iOS.

    Epic, who were already suing Apple over their removal from the App Store, has filed another lawsuit over the developer access issue.

    Apple are being absurdly heavy-handed here.  I don't know who is handling developer relations at Cupertino, but whoever it is, is very, very, very bad at their job.

  • In other Apple antitrust fuckery news, the company has expanded its independent repair program to include Macs.  (Tech Crunch)

    Let's see what our friend Louis has to say about this program:

    Oh.  So it's more of a non-independent non-repair program.  How non-typical.

  • Oracle is in talks to acquire TikTok.  (CNBC)

    For the love of God, why?

Anime Music Video of the Day

In honour of Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon.

Bonus Anime Music Video of the Day

This was the one I planned to post before all the stupidity erupted.

Special Bonus Crack Team of Science Babes Anime Music Video of the Day Just for Brickmuppet

Disclaimer: She blinded me with science, and a 5W laser pointer.

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Monday, August 17


Daily News Stuff 17 August 2020

Seven Twenny Pee Edition

Tech News

  • A look at that new HP Envy with its 4K AMOLED display.  (Tom's Hardware)

    It's a pretty nice configuration: Core i7-10750H (6 cores / 12 threads, 5GHz boost clock), 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD plus 32GB Optane (?), RTX 2060 Max-Q, and the aforementioned 15" 4K screen.  It weighs a reasonably light 2.1kg and costs a reasonably light $1500.

    And it has the four essential keys in a nice layout.

    Colour gamut is 143% of DCI-P3, which is crazy.  My iMac is ninety-something percent of DCI-P3 and it shows colours I'd never seen before on a computer monitor.  Maybe my next system will have an OLED screen.

    RAM is in two SO-DIMM slots and can be upgraded to 64GB; storage is in two M.2 slots and can be upgraded to 16TB.

    Battery life is the downside: Just a little over five hours.  Nice as it is, I'd hold off for the next generation from Intel - or the current generation from AMD.

  • Notepad++ has been banned in China.  (Tech Crunch)

    Good for you, Notepad++.  Though I hope you didn't do another of those weird scrolling text announcements that made a million users think they had a virus.

  • IBM has announced the Power10.  (IBM)

    Wait, when's Hot Chips this year?  Oh.  It's now.

    I expect Ian Cutress at AnandTech will be along tomorrow to analyse all the goings on; the IBM press release is mostly fluff.

  • Google News may disappear from Australia.  (Gizmodo)


Anime Music Video of the Day

Stay classy.

Disclaimer: Don't try to read all of Dungeon Meshi in one day.  Do not.

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Daily News Stuff 16 August 2020

Bad Apple No Biscuit Edition

Tech News

Video of the Day

Disclaimer: Bjurrrd is the wjurrd.

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Sunday, August 16


Daily News Stuff 15 August 2020

All The News Is Gone And The Sky Is Grey Edition

Tech News

  • I didn't post yesterday's update until this morning and now there's no news for today.  Oh well.

  • A few more notes on the RTX 3090 and GDDR6X.  (Tom's Hardware)

    It will be the first card to deliver 1TB per second of bandwidth without using HBM.  A 384-bit bus and 21Gbps signalling makes for 1008GBps.

    The card will come with 12GB of RAM in 12 8Gbit chips.  Micron will ship 16Gbit GDDR6X parts next year with speeds up to 24Gbps.

  • Writing your own virtual machine.  (GitHub)

    As in, writing a virtual microprocessor, rather than the container kind of virtual machine.

    This is a pretty easy task if (a) you don't need to deliver perfect compatibility with an existing processor and (b) you're not aiming for ultimate performance.

    I wrote a simple VM in C++ a couple of years back and got it to nudge 1 TFLOPS single-threaded on a 2015 iMac without any clever tricks.  That was when I was still looking at writing my own programming language, before Crystal came along and filled that niche.

    If I do it again, first I'd probably write it in Crystal (it's nearly as fast as C and much nicer to user), and second I'd do it as a virtual fantasy retro-computer, a 10-bit or 12-bit home computer that never was.

    Put it into a tiny Linux distro, plop the whole thing on a Chuwi Larkbox, and you have your very own retrocomputer without ever having picked up a soldering iron.

  • Ubuntu 18.04.5 LTS now includes the Linux 5.4 LTS kernel from Ubuntu 20.04 LTS.  (9to5Linux)

    I guess LTS stands for long-term support and not long-term stable.  RedHat back-ports bugfixes and security patches to older kernels while maintaining 100% compatibility; Ubuntu seems to just keeping the user space the same.

  • Fun fact: Semi-automatic rifles with large (20 round) magazines were first invented in the Holy Roman Empire.

  • Twitter seems to have hired Clippy to enforce self-censorship.

    In case Twitter is misbehaving:


Music Not Really A Video of the Day

I transferred all my music over from Google Play Music All Access to YouTube Music.  The process was fast and painless and worked, except that somehow it dropped one track from Deborah Conway's album Bitch Epic, which is now gone and lost forever.


It's a great album.  Also contains...  Oh, there's a cleaner version of the Alive and Brilliant video available now.

And Today I'm a Daisy.

Actually, not sure if those will work for everyone.  It not only shows up as YouTube Premium (which I have because of that Google Play Very Long Name subscription), but worse, YouTube Premium Australia.

Disclaimer: It needs an extra button, like "You must be new here" or maybe "Did I fucking ask for your opinion?"

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Saturday, August 15


Daily News Stuff 14 August 2020

Extra Final Late Edition

Tech News

Disclaimer: Ugh.  Ethereum.  Just posting about it has given me a migraine.

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Thursday, August 13


Daily News Stuff 13 August 2020

Mandatory And Forbidden Edition

Tech News

  • There's a new Humble Bundle out with Vegas, Sound Forge, and Acid.  (Humble Bundle)

    It's the "Studio" versions rather than the Pro versions, and Sound Forge and Vegas are last year's releases, but Acid is current.  And the Studio versions are pretty good if you don't need professional-level bells and whistles.

    Also includes Video Pro X which is normally $399 by itself, but I've never used it.

    With this bundle and Affinity's products, you can pretty much dump Adobe if you're not dependent on a very specific workflow.  I've already downgraded my Adobe subscription from the full suite to just Photoshop, and I think that can go now too.

  • HP leaked the specs of a Tiger Lake (Intel 11th generation) laptop.  (Tom's Hardware)

    If accurate, it's a huge improvement over 10th generation.  Comparing the i7-1165G7 to the current i7-1065G7, top clock speeds are up from 3.9GHz to 4.7GHz.  That's in addition to an expected 18% IPC boost thanks to the new core, so it could be 40% faster overall.

    It's still four cores and won't catch up to the current eight-core Ryzen laptop parts, which are 60% ahead on multi-threaded workloads, but for single-threaded tasks it could do very well for Intel.

    We still have to see what power consumption is like, though, since Intel's TDP numbers seem to be plucked from the air during an acid trip.

  • Speaking of which, Intel has spilled all the cool deets on Tiger Lake.  (AnandTech)

    Well, some cool deets.  Some deets.  A deetoid.

    Main thing is that where Ice Lake had 15% better IPC but 15% lower clock speeds, Tiger Lake has 15% better IPC but maintains earlier clock speeds.  The new Willow Cove core is the same as Sunny Cove, just manufactured on a process that isn't horribly broken.

  • Intel also announced their upcoming Xe-HPG graphics chips that they won't be making.  (AnandTech)

    More specifically, they confirmed earlier rumours that they will be outsourcing the fabrication of their graphics chips, either to Samsung or TSMC.  They didn't confirm which of those, but those are the only options.

  • Twitter has a new API.  (Twitter)

    This was originally going to be released on the day after the big hack, and they very sensibly delayed the announcement.

    It looks like an overcomplicated, restrictive, poorly-explained mess.

    It does provide real-time streams, something that used to be the core of the Twitter platform but was killed off long ago unless you wanted to pay Twitter a lot of money.

  • TechDirt are somehow trying to blame Trump for the layoffs at DC Comics.  They are now gone from my list of sources.  It's not worth the effort.

  • Australia's NBN has a gigabit access plan.  (ZDNet)

    Nobody offers it, and if you find someone who does you can't get it, and if you can it's ruinously expensive.  Across the entire country they signed up a total of 50 customers in the last quarter.  That accounts for all Australian ISPs except for those who run their on fiber in the CBDs of major cities.

  • Dropbox now offers a password manager, computer backup, and encrypted storage.  (Dropbox)

    I hope the backup feature works better than regular syncing, because with that, if your folder goes offline for any reason Dropbox immediately deletes all your online files so that everything matches.

Disclaimer: Well, poot.

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Daily News Stuff 12 August 2020

There's A Hole In The Telescope Edition

Tech News

  • A look at that 128-core mobile workstation in all its six-screen glory.  (Tom's Hardware)

    I was wondering if those extra screens just meant separate monitors.  Nope.

  • LPDDR5 is not the same as DDR5.  (WCCFTech)

    Yes, I know what the headline says.  It's wrong.

    Intel's upcoming 11th generation laptop chips will support LPDDR5-5400 memory.  Although that's not the same as DDR5, it's a useful jump from current limits of LPDDR4-3733 and will help a lot with the new Xe integrated graphics.

  • You can't sue over copyright infringement when you don't hold the copyright.  (Tech Crunch)

    Genius used trap street.  It's super effect-  No, wait.  The other thing.

  • There's a hundred-foot hole in our telescope.  (UCF Today)

    Yes, Arecibo.  I checked and there are other telescopes that could have have hundred-foot holes in them without being more hole than scope, but in this case it was indeed Arecibo.

    A 3" thick steel cable snapped and did what a snapped 3" thick steel cable is wont to do, that is, destroy everything in its path.

  • 32 > 28.  (Serve the Home)

    AMD's 32-core Epyc 7452 at $2000 outperforms Intel's 28-core Xeon Gold 6258R at $4000, and the 6258R is Intel's best price/performance offering by a mile.

    The article discusses the target market for this chip as well.  It's not really intended to compete with Intel's high-end parts, though it does well at that, but at replacing older servers with dual 12 to 16 core Xeon CPUs.  It cheap, has a relatively tame 155W TDP that lets it run in existing racks without worry, and can easily replace two or three older servers.

    Our Threadripper sever cluster at my day job has been rock solid since we got the issues* sorted out with Simon**.   Would definitely go AMD again.

    * First a bad SSD, then a bad memory module.  No problems with the CPU or board.
    ** They're called Alvin, Simon, and Theodore.  Why is Simon the troublemaker?

  • The best Amazon tablets for 2020.  (ZDNet)

    Um, ZDNet?  That's just a list of all of Amazon's tablets, with affiliate links.

    Nice work if you can get it.

  • The Surface Duo launches September 10 at a price of $1399.  (Thurrott.com)

    It's a potentially interesting device that has probably been killed by its price tag.  It avoids the problems with folding screens by simply not folding the screen - the two screens are separate and don't try to pretend otherwise.

    It has a 360-degree hinge so you can flip it all the way around and use it like a normal phone, or open it flat and have two screens side-by-side.  At $399 - with appropriate cost-saving measures - I suspect it would sell like hotcakes.

    It's 10mm thick folded, and weighs 250g, neither of which are unreasonable for a device like this.  But at that price I suspect it will be DOA.

  • The FTC's antitrust ruling against Qualcomm has been overturned on appeal.  (AnandTech)

    The court held that because Qualcomm acts like a dick to everyone equally, they are not in breach of the law.

Disclaimer: And I don't mean Extreme Beach Volleyball.

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Tuesday, August 11


Daily News Stuff 11 August 2020

128K Is Enough Edition

Tech News

  • The Oppo Reno3 is available with an A75, A76, or A77.  (AnandTech)

    The Reno3 Pro has an A75.  The Reno3 5G has an A77, but is only available in China.  And the Reno3 Pro 5G has an A76. 

    Why?  Because.

  • Speaking of Oppo, their A52 looks like the current best deal in Australia.  (GadgetGuy)

    For A$299 you get a perfectly adequate phone: 6.5" 2400x1080 IPS screen, 4 x A73 and 4 x A53 cores, 4GB RAM, 64GB flash, two SIMs, five cameras, microSD, and a headphone jack.

    And I can just walk to the store (because I'm not in Melbourne) and pick it up.

    The A73 isn't blazing fast, but it's a lot faster than an A53.

  • Reddit's CEO says that while many of its staff and most of its users are lunatics, he personally is not dumb enough to turn away easy money.  (Tech Crunch)

    Reddit is dead.  It just hasn't stopped moving yet.  And I don't give Tech Crunch more than 18 months, to be honest.

  • PDFs are just fine, the problem is users are whiny idiot children.  (NNGroup)

  • 112 lanes, no waiting.  (Serve the Home)

    The ASRack ROMED8-2T is a standard ATX size Epyc motherboard.  Single socket only, since the Epyc socket is huge, and only eight DIMM slots.  But it does have seven PCIe slots, all 4.0, and all x16, providing a ton of bandwidth for whatever you might need a ton of bandwidth for.

    Rear-panel I/O is limited to dual 10GbE, three USB ports, VGA, and serial, and an extra Ethernet port for remote management.  They also managed to squeeze in two M.2 slots, and two mini-SAS connectors providing 4 SATA ports each with the right cable.

  • China can't spy on TLS 1.3 connections, so they've blocked them all.  (ZDNet)

    Older protocols sent the host name in clear text before establishing the connection; TLS 1.3 encrypts that as well.  (The reason for this is that the certificate used to encrypt the connection is based on the host name, so you have to jump through some extra hoops if you want to encrypt the host name itself.)

  • Ceres has an ocean.  (CNet)

    It's underground, but based on images from the Dawn probe they're pretty certain it's there.  Dawn orbited Ceres from 2015 to 2018, and came as close as 20 miles from the surface, providing 100,000 photos and a ton of new data for scientists to analyse.  The results have just been published in Nature.

  • 2020 summed up in one tweet.

Disclaimer: No.

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