What is that?
It's a duck pond.
Why aren't there any ducks?
I don't know. There's never any ducks.
Then how do you know it's a duck pond?

Sunday, March 05


Daily News Stuff 5 March 2023

Redo Of Pixy Edition

Top Story

  • Iran has struck lithium - an estimated 8.5 million tons of it.  (The Register)

    That sounds like a lot - and it is.  Global lithium production in 2021 was estimated at 100,000 tons, half of it from Australia.  But there's an estimated 6 million tons just sitting in the Salton Sea stinking up the place.  Lithium is not particularly rare, and not all that valuable, so not a lot of effort has been put into finding more of it when we already have enough for 300 years.

    You'll sometimes see figures that by 2030 we'll be using 3 million tons of lithium per year, but that's actually lithium carbonate - Li2CO3 - which is only 10% 20% lithium by mass.  Even at that rate known reserves will last more than a century sixty years.

Tech News

  • So I woke up this morning and for the first time this year I didn't feel an overpowering urge to go right back to sleep.  I didn't get as much done today as I had planned but I did actually get something done.   I washed the floor in the laundry, for example.  I had intended to wash some clothes, but that's not quite how things worked out. 

  • Also accidentally bought a couple more computer cases, even though I just bought two expensive Hololive limited edition computer cases that I haven't put anything in yet.

    Before I accidentally bought a house last year I was rebuilding my home office, and one of the things I had planned was to build a couple of custom NAS boxes using Silverstone's CS01-HS.  It's an aluminium mini-ITX case with six 2.5" hot swap drive bays plugging into a SAS/SATA backplane, which is not something you normally find in mini-ITX cases, plus room for another two 2.5" drives inside, which is a little more common.

    Anyway, fast forward a year and I'm looking at cheap options to get a computer in every room of the new house (which has too many rooms) and I tripped over the CS01S-HS on Amazon.  That's the silver version; I had planned to get one each in silver and black, but apparently the entire range has been discontinued in the past year and Amazon only had a couple of remnant silver models in stock.  I said to myself that I would have bought them if they still had both, but since they don't, I moved on.

    And then found the black version under a separate listing, even though the silver version showed the black version as sold out.  And they only had one of the black version, so if I missed out now that was it.

    So I bought both.

    And now I have to figure out what to do with them.  It's a mini-ITX case so you only have one PCIe slot, and the case itself only provides room for a half-height, half-length card.  And there are very few mini-ITX motherboards with eight SATA ports (even this one only has six and it ain't cheap) so that slot is pretty much dedicated to a SATA controller.  Only pretty much, because you can now get five and six port SATA controllers that fit in an M.2 slot.  I'm not sure why those exist when the one case that would require such a thing has been discontinued, but they do.

    My first thought was to use the Ryzen 5700G, which still has the fastest integrated graphics of any readily available desktop CPU.  But that's Socket AM4, and a quick search found exactly one Socket AM4 mini-ITX motherboard in stock in Australia, and that only has gigabit Ethernet, so I'd need to use the sole M.2 slot for a SATA controller and the PCIe slot for 10GbE, which wouldn't leave me with a boot drive separate from storage.

    Probably best to use a current model motherboard with at least 2.5Gb Ethernet and not worry about the graphics.  If I want to do media transcoding an Intel CPU is probably the way to go, even though it's worse for gaming.

    Why a 2.5" NAS?  As I mentioned yesterday, SSDs have already fallen in price by 30% this year.  I'm going to stuff it full of cheap SATA SSDs and run ZFS.  It won't be cheap, but good dedicated NASes aren't cheap either, unless your employer happens to be throwing them out...  Which is why all my Synology boxes date back to 2013 and really need replacing.

  • The importance of being ECC.  (Robert Felder)

    At least DDR5 has on-die ECC, and some really weird systems with nominally non-ECC RAM have block ECC as well.  I wonder if any regular motherboards have support for that, since it seems you can do it with regular Intel CPUs.

  • Lemon-derived extracellular vesicle-like nanoparticles block the progression of kidney stones by antagonizing endoplasmic reticulum stress in renal tubular cells.  (ACS)

    Shut up and take my money.

    In rats.


  • Although that Gigabyte Aero 14 OLED laptop I mentioned yesterday is very tempting, the truth is now that I've settled in in New House City I only expect to travel any real distance about once a year.

    And for the same price as that laptop (13700H, 16GB of RAM, 1TB SSD, RTX 4050) I can get a desktop system with a 13500 (almost exactly the same as the 13700H laptop chip), 128GB of RAM, 2TB of SSD, and a Radeon 6700...  And 24TB of hard disk storage as well, just because.

    So I think that's what I'll do.

Pippa Video of the Day

Impressively, that's not computer animation that looks like janky stop-motion animation.  It's honest-to-goodness janky stop-motion animation.

Disclaimer: Some look at my parts lists and say, what are you doing that you need 128GB of RAM?  I look at them and say, I wonder if this board supports those new 96GB memory kits.

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Saturday, March 04


Daily News Stuff 32 February 2023

Still Going Edition

Top Story

Tech News

Disclaimer: Do you people want this is why we can't have nice things?  Because this is how you get this is why we can't have nice things.

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Post contains 531 words, total size 4 kb.

Friday, March 03


Daily News Stuff 31 February 2023

Shift Sixteen Terabytes And What Do You Get Edition

Top Story

  • The 7950X3D is not four times faster than the regular 7950X when using the integrated graphics.  (Tom's Hardware)

    The original story from PC Magazine has been updated to reflect the fact that the figures for the 7950X were originally taken with an outdated driver that gave radically lower than normal performance.

    The updated tests now show that the integrated graphics performance of AMD and Intel's desktop chips is basically identical.  AMD provides one sixth the performance of last year's laptop chips, where Intel provides one third the performance of this year's laptop chips, but AMD's laptop chips from last year had twice the graphics performance of Intel's chips from this year, so for example the racing game F1 22 gets exactly 33 fps at 1080p, lowest quality, whether you're on a 7950X, 7950X3D, or 13900K.

    Or a 13500, which seems like the best option from Intel's desktop lineup.  Six P cores and eight E cores at 65W.  I'm thinking of getting two 13500 systems rather than one big 7900X or 7950X system

Tech News

Disclaimer: Just kidding.  They never asked if it was wrong.

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Post contains 419 words, total size 4 kb.

Thursday, March 02


Daily News Stuff 30 February 2023

Oops Edition

Top Story

  • Fixed the blog formatting.  Didn't finish work until after midnight yesterday, so I didn't notice.

  • AMD's new 7950X3D can deliver up to four times the gaming performance of the regular 7950X...  When using the integrated graphics.  (WCCFTech)

    Which is weird, but more importantly highlights the fact that the integrated graphics on AMD's desktop CPUs provide only one sixth the performance of their laptop chips.  That means they're slower than the integrated graphics on Intel's desktop chips, and you shouldn't buy one expecting to be able to play games without a separate graphics card.

    Actually, something about those benchmark numbers doesn't add up; the scores on the regular AMD chips are too low; they should be much closer to the Intel scores.

Tech News

Disclaimer: Once you start looking, there's no end of cargo cults out there.

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Wednesday, March 01


Daily News Stuff 29 February 2023

Close Enough For Government Work Edition

Top Story

  • OpenAI - the company behind automated idiot system ChatGPT - says it's purpose is to make sure AGI (artificial general intelligence) benefits all of humanity so long as they love Big Brother and hate Emmanuel Goldstein. (OpenAI)
    Second, we are working towards creating increasingly aligned and steerable models. Our shift from models like the first version of GPT-3 to InstructGPT and ChatGPT is an early example of this.
    In particular, we think it’s important that society agree on extremely wide bounds of how AI can be used, but that within those bounds, individual users have a lot of discretion. Our eventual hope is that the institutions of the world agree on what these wide bounds should be; in the shorter term we plan to run experiments for external input. The institutions of the world will need to be strengthened with additional capabilities and experience to be prepared for complex decisions about AGI.
    We've already seen OpenAI's approach to this: Anyone who is not a radical leftist lunatic is not permitted to ask questions.

    This of course leaves out the fact that GPT and other large language models (LLMs) are not and cannot become AGIs. Humans use language to communicate concepts and information that is stored in a more fundamental way. You don't see using language, but you can use language to describe what you see.

    LLMs don't have that deeper level of understanding. At all. There's simply nothing there. What you see on the surface is all there is.

    I've noted that a lot of people act like that too: You give them a language prompt and you get a canned response back; the same response every time for the same prompt.

    ChatGPT - at least as it is designed - is a left-wing activist in a can.

Tech News

Disclaimer: I have another bank account though. Just in case.

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Tuesday, February 28


Daily News Stuff 28 February 2023

Saint Elmo's FireWire Edition

Top Story

  • AMD's top-of-the-line Ryzen 7950X3D is here and is a thing that exists.  (AnandTech)

    One the one hand, it's very fast in most games and for heavy multi-threaded workloads like rendering animated films or compiling the entire Linux kernel, though in the latter case it's usually a little slow than the regular 7950X.

    On the other hand, for simpler single-threaded applications it can be slower than much cheaper chips like the Ryzen 7600 or Intel's 13600K.

    The reason is that the 7950X3D has mismatched cores.  One chiplet runs at full speed, while the other chiplet runs several hundred megahertz slower but has an extra 64MB of cache. 

    That means that you want to run your programs on the chiplet that gives the best results for that particular code.  For games that's usually the chiplet with the cache; for applications it's usually the other one.  AMD has drivers for Windows to do this automatically but it doesn't always pick the right cores.

    If your task uses all sixteen cores then it doesn't matter and you're off to the races.  If you pick the right game you can also see huge performance gains over any other chip.  But it the driver picks the wrong core things might slow down by 12% or so against the regular - and cheaper - 7950X.

    If you're building a gaming system you will probably want to wait for the 7800X3D, which has none of this complexity.  If you're building a server or a workstation, you'll be fine with the regular 7950X - or the 7900X, or the 7900.

    The one notable - very, very notable - thing that comes out of these benchmarks is that while the 7950X3D is a 120W part and Intel's competing 13900K is a 125W part, under full load the AMD chip uses 140W and the Intel chip uses 330W.  

    Which is far too much.  Don't buy the 13900K.  Even the 13600K uses 100W more than the 7950X3D.

    You can dial down the power consumption of both AMD and Intel chips.  AMD's chips suffer minimal performance loss until you get to really low power consumption, while the performance impact on Intel chips is immediate and significant.

Tech News

Disclaimer: And infinitely smarter than the comments on that article.  Rule One: Don't read the comments.

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Monday, February 27


Daily News Stuff 27 February 2023

The Sheep Don't Look Up Edition

Top Story

Disclaimer: The wonderful thing about Tiggers
Is Tiggers are wonderful things!
Their tops are made out of rubber
Their bottoms are made out of springs!
They're bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy
And they look out for Number One.

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Post contains 271 words, total size 3 kb.

Sunday, February 26


Daily News Stuff 26 February 2023

Deaccelerated Placoderms Edition

Top Story

Tech News

  • I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid you're a racist.  Would you let ChatGPT control your home?  (The Verge)

    I mean, cheaper than burning it down, I guess.  The only smart device I have in my home - which is brand new - is the washing machine, which is sulking because I have not downloaded its useless companion app.  Well, I guess also the interface for the solar panels, but that actually pays me money for the power I feed back to the grid.

  • It's time for Google to spin off YouTube.  (The Economist)

    On the one hand, it's impossible for the outcome to be any worse than it is in the clutches of the hyperwoke and institutionally corrupt Google.

    On the other hand, the market is in the shitter right now.

  • The Ryzen 7950X3D averages 11% faster than Intel's 13900K across a range of game benchmarks.  (Tom's Hardware)

    Which should make it the fasting gaming CPU available, except that rumours suggest the cheaper 7800X3D might actually be faster - for games, not overall.  Games don't really use more than 8 cores, and the 7950 has 16.  (The 13900K has 24.)

  • Nokia has launched a repairable budget phone.  (The Guardian)

    Budget seems to be pretty accurate for once - it's priced at around $180 - and repairable means you can buy and replace the battery, display, and power connector yourself.  Those are by far the most likely components to fail, so it's a good start.

    It has a 720p screen, which is fine at that price, 4GB RAM, 128GB of storage, and an adequate CPU with dual A75 and six A55 cores.  It has a microSD slot and a headphone jack - check - and for some reason a 50MP main camera, which is a lot for a budget phone.

    There remains the question of how good the rest of the camera system is - the optics and software - but apart from the 720p screen (good but not great) it seems to have everything you need if you use your phone for phone stuff.

  • The best graphics cards for running Minecraft RT.  (Tom's Hardware)

    Regular Minecraft will run on anything - it's the server and not your graphics card that is most likely to choke.  Minecraft RT adds ray tracing, and while it looks pretty, if you want to play it at 4K at 60 fps there is exactly one graphics card capable of that and it costs $1600.  If you'll settle for 1080p and 30fps there are rather a lot more options.

Disclaimer: Pineapples, pinecones, and artichokes, oh my!

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Saturday, February 25


Daily News Stuff 25 February 2023

Watertight Bungholes Edition

Top Story

  • Intel's 4nm process node has entered production, with the first consumer product - the company's 14th generation Meteor Lake CPUs - due late this year.  (WCCFTech)

    It takes months for a chip to go through an advanced production pipeline, so that delay is entirely expected.

    TSMC and Samsung have both started production at 3nm, so this doesn't quite catch Intel up with the most advanced process technology, but Intel expects its own 3nm process to come on line before the end of the year - to be followed by 2nm in the first half of 2024 and 1.8nm in the second half.

    All these nm numbers are fictional - if transistors were really 2nm across they wouldn't work - but the three companies use roughly the same methods for calculating their made up numbers so the lies are at least comparable.

    Meteor Lake looks to be a laptop-only CPU generation; there will be a refreshed version of Raptor lake for desktops this year, probably still based on 7nm.  This might reduce Meteor Lake's power consumption, which would be good news.  Alder Lake (12th gen) and Raptor Lake (13th gen) laptops are fast but are not known for amazing battery life.

    AMD meanwhile is using a mix of TSMC's 4nm, 5nm, 6nm, and 7nm for its own chips.  Apple has reserved all of TSMC's early 3nm production - known as N3 - but there are four new variants of 3nm coming online over the next year and a half, and next year's Zen 5 chips (Ryzen 8000 or 9000) are planned to use one of those.

Tech News

  • Microsoft's upcoming Surface Laptop Studio 2 will use one of those power hungry 13th generation chips.  (WCCFTech)

    The current model uses a 4 core 11th gen chip so the new model with 14 cores will be a lot faster, but battery life is going to take a step backwards, something we've already seen with the Surface Laptop 5 (the non-Studio version)

    I also predict it won't have the Four Essential Keys.

  • Not exactly tech news but Warner Bros is producing a new series of Lord of the Rings films.  (Variety)

    If you thought they'd already produced three films from the three volumes of the Lord of the Rings, you'd be correct, so it's not clear what story these will follow.  Amazon has already strip-mined the appendices for its Rings of Power train wreck, so it's probably not that.

    Still, I expect nothing good to come of this.

  • How will the Universe end?  (Quanta)

    Scientists now predict that the Universe will be renewed for a fourth and final season and then be abruptly cancelled just as shooting begins.

  • If you want a classic microcomputer but just want it to sit there and look cute because it's easier to emulate them than maintain fussy failing hardware Rocky Bergen has you covered.  (Rocky Bergen)

    Free to download.  You'll need a colour printer, some sharp scissors, and glue.

No Reason In Particular Video of the Day

Disclaimer: No habla Spanish either.

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Post contains 515 words, total size 4 kb.

Friday, February 24


Daily News Stuff 24 February 2023

Twas Brillig Edition

Top Story

  • If you're looking for a workstation that you can pick up and take with you AMD's new "Dragon Range" 7945HX could be the CPU for you.  (Tom's Hardware)

    On single-threaded tasks it's 25% faster than last year's 6900HX, but on multi-threaded workloads it's twice as fast.  Which it should be, because the 6900HX has eight cores and the 7945HX has sixteen.

    Which is a lot for a laptop.  Intel's 13980HX has 24 cores, but 16 of those are half-speed Efficiency cores, so the two CPUs offer roughly the same performance.

    These should be roughly the speed of the 12 core desktop Ryzen 7900, and at least on the AMD side use a similar amount of power - the 7900 is the low-power version of the 7900X.  The Intel laptop chip has a peak power consumption of 157W compared to 89W for the desktop 7900.

Tech News

Disclaimer: Just do it in private and wash your hands afterwards.

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