You know when grown-ups tell you everything's going to be fine, and you think they're probably lying to make you feel better? Yes. Everything's going to be fine.
Wednesday, July 29
So my Nexus 5 disintegrated. The material around the edge of the phone got scratched, probably from being stuffed into my pocket along with my headphones,* and then cracked and flaked off in bigger and bigger pieces, until finally the back started to detach and it couldn't find its SIM card any more and little bits of electronics started to fall out.
So I kind of needed a new phone.
I have a Sony Xperia Z Ultra, but that's too big; it lives in my notebook bag to serve as a mini tablet and 4G / Wifi hotspot. So it was back to my Nexus 4, which is made of solid glass all the way through and so is still pretty much as-new.
The only problem is that... Well, two problems. Three. One, it only has 16GB of storage, which is not enough. Two, it's a superfluid, like liquid helium, and will not just slide off a level surface to fall on the floor, but will slide uphill to do so.**
And three, the USB port is a bit fiddly, which means at some point it will suffer the fate of my original Nexus 7 and I won't be able to charge it any more.***
If only it had shipped with wireless charging, so I could just plop it down on this wireless charging pad that is no longer in use by my Nexus 5 and HEY!
The Nexus 4 supported Qi wireless charging? Did they, like, mention that to anyone?
* Sennheiser PX 100-II.
** Nexus 4 owners will know what I mean. The glass back makes it the slipperiest phone in existence. The edge is textured so you don't drop it, but when you put it down on any level surface it will swiftly migrate to the nearest available edge and make good its escape.
*** Until I went out and bought a wireless charging pad to see if that helped - and it did.
No, not the Adobe one, but the one that powers your phones and tablets and increasingly, notebooks and desktops.
Intel and Micron have announced XPoint, a brand new memory technology based on magic smoke and fairy dust* that is up to 1000x faster and 1000x longer lasting than conventional flash memory.
Such announcements are not uncommon, but are of mostly technical interest, because it takes a good ten years to get such a technology off the ground - if, that is, it doesn't run into serious problems of technical or financial viability, which happens, roughly speaking, 100% of the time.
Turns out in this case that Intel and Micron have been working on this for ten years already, and they're fabbing viable 128Gbit devices right now. Products are expected to ship by the end of the year. This year. 2015. AD. Update: It sounds like chips will be available this year, but end products aren't expected until 2016. Darn.
The big difference between these devices and common NAND flash is that XPoint is bit addressable, like RAM, where with NAND flash you have to write a page (typically 4K) at a time and erase huge blocks (2M or more), which requires a lot of fiddling behind the scenes to work. With XPoint you just write what you want, when you want, where you want.
Pricing is expected to be somewhere between NAND flash and DRAM - DRAM is about 20x the price of commodity flash.
Some use cases are obvious - solid-state caches for RAID controllers and enterprise-grade SSDs. But if we finally have a large-scale non-volatile storage solution that runs at close to main memory speeds, that is going to set the cat amongst the pigeons in the database world. It's the database holy grail, and the heart of every good database is software that tries to deliver that sort of performance without the requisite hardware unobtainium.
Now that unobtainium is due to be on store shelves for Christmas, the impossible is set to become commonplace.
* They haven't disclosed exactly how these devices work, so that's a bit of informed guesswork on my part.
Been working with databases for a few decades. Databases generally buffer some data in memory, partly because it's so much faster than going to disk. SAP has been talking up HANA for a while, which basically moves the whole database into memory. Also recently involved with implementing HANA-lite for a pricing subsystem. It will be interesting to see where pricing ends up.
A lot of my job has been creating indexes and queries that reduce the time required to get the requisite data from disk to memory. My understanding is that will largely go away, and accessing database tables will be more like working with internal tables -- you'll still need to do binary searches in large tables but the whole physical layer problem is basically eliminated.
I wonder if in the long run this might affect AI more than anything. Seems like it would be a lot easier to model processes for massively parallel synaptic connections in addressable memory space. And real relationships are relational, which is why the relational database is so useful.
SSD is a huge benefit for PCs, extended the useful life of mine for a few years (well, maybe only because I stopped gaming).
Posted by: TallDave at Wednesday, July 29 2015 01:32 PM (74ZYB)
Yep. Most people are looking at this and saying, okay, that sounds nice, I guess, but us hard-core database guys are giggling and spinning our wheels. We've been promised something like this every couple of years since about 1970, so the normals will have to forgive us if we act a bit giddy.
SSDs are already a life-saver for database tuning, but XPoint sounds like pure magic.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Wednesday, July 29 2015 01:53 PM (PiXy!)
What happens when Storage and RAM are indistinguishable....
Posted by: Mauser at Wednesday, July 29 2015 07:56 PM (TJ7ih)
Posted by: conrad6 at Thursday, July 30 2015 04:43 AM (826FZ)
The array itself is bit-addressable - it's an X/Y(/Z) crossbar at the bit level. I assume the controller / interface will impose a word size over that, as with DRAM, which has signal lines to allow the CPU to write a single byte on a 128-bit or 256-bit bus, but not individual bits.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Thursday, July 30 2015 11:08 AM (PiXy!)
Yeah... they moved one of our DBs onto SSD a few years back, got about 10x faster.
It's interesting, it was almost exactly the same performance boost as I'd gotten from moving the database to an 8K blocksize (they were using a 1K DB blocksize on an OS that was 8K blocksize, so every read was 8x slower).
Users like it when your database gets 100x faster over a year.
Just today I worked on a program that does a nine-table join, made it about 25x faster by finding a way to restrict one of the result sets at a different point in the query. Even when everything is indexed properly you can still have issues like this in large joins where some of the table have tens of millions of records.
Posted by: TallDave at Saturday, August 01 2015 04:18 PM (74ZYB)
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It's the Nexus 8! Or near enough. Asus shook up the tablet market in 2012 with the original Nexus 7, a genuinely good budget tablet, and again in 2013 with the updated model, which was a great budget tablet (and which I still use for several hours each day).
Asus recently announced a slate of new tablets, but the crown jewel is the Zenpad S 8.0, which is exactly what I'd want to see in a Nexus 8 and aimed dead center at the iPad Mini on features and design, while keeping the pricing that made the Nexus 7 a runaway success.
$199 for the base "C" model with a 1.3GHz quad-core 64-bit CPU, 2GB RAM and 32GB of storage (plus microSD), and a 2048x1536 8" IPS display.
It's the same size, weight, and screen as the iPad Mini, but $199 for the 32GB version vs. $349 for the iPad. Plus microSD. (Android's support for removable storage is basically poop, but iOS doesn't support it at all, so...)
So if, like me, you prefer Android over iOS anyway, it's an easy choice.
The advanced "CA" model should arrive soon, and offers a 1.8GHz or 2.3GHz CPU, 2GB or 4GB RAM, and up to 64GB of storage (again, plus microSD), plus support for a pressure-sensitive stylus. (I don't think the stylus is actually included.) It's a little lighter than the base model, and includes faster WiFi and a USB-C connector like the new Macbook and Chromebook Pixel.
Update: Pricing for the top-of-the line 2.3GHz / 4GB RAM / 64GB storage model looks set at $299, with pre-orders now and product shipping in a couple of weeks.
All models include Android 5.something. Either 5.0 or 5.1, depending on which site you believe.
The Android tablet market has been pretty dull the last couple of years, but these look like excellent performers and great value for money.
You put in your tape, and then it will play... Music? Right?
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Tuesday, July 28 2015 09:54 AM (PiXy!)
This is my cue to remind everyone how all of the anime I watched for decades was not subtitled, but "voice-overed". That was because VCR was the pinnacle of technology, so someone used 2 of them and basically read the script. Printing subtitles into the video was impossible for someone without a proper TV studio, of which less than a dozen existed in the whole country. Humble VCR made the anime accessible.
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I'm really behind. I recognised about 10% of the clips in this - Shirobako, which I love, Nanatsu no Taizai was there briefly, Chuunibyou, Kill la Kill, which I haven't seen but is very distinctive, and likewise Super Sonico. The rest is a blur.
I'm going to do a writeup of Shirobako when I have a moment, in the meantime, it's good, watch it.
Yep, those are all from Shirobako.
The new Ushio and Tora is pretty good so far. If you like 90s anime but hate 90s video quality, it's pretty much perfect. The only change I've seen so far - apart from the radical technical improvements - is that Ushio now has a flat-screen TV for Tora to destroy.
It's moving along at a cracking pace, too, faster if anything than the original OAV series. The manga ran for 33 volumes and the TV version is set for 39 episodes, so they're not going to need any filler on this one. ANN rate it an A, so either I'm not just running on nostalgia fumes here or they've got some seriously old-time anime fans writing for them.
It's being done by Studio Mappa, which was founded a few years ago by anime veteran Masao Maruyama, formerly of Madhouse, and it's incredibly faithful to the original. When they wrap up Ushio and Tora, I'd love to see them pick up another older show and give it the same treatment - like, oh, Dirty Pair.
Umm... I don't remember the material that went into "The Exodus OP".
Posted by: Pete Zaitcev at Tuesday, July 28 2015 08:11 AM (RqRa5)
That's from the bonus material - they did an episode of Exodus and one of Third Aerial Girls Squad, but I couldn't find the latter online.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Tuesday, July 28 2015 10:16 AM (PiXy!)
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No Game No Life, Barakamon, probably Glasslip, Hanayamata (aka Ha Na Ya Ma Ta), Aldnoah Zero, pass, Noragami, pass, Barakamon again, pass, Inou Battle , Shirobako, pass, Megakucity actors, pass, Engaged to the Unidentified, Inou Battle again, Kill La Kill, Rail Wars, pass, Witch Craft Works, pass, pass, Golden Time, Engaged to the Unidentified again.
That should cover you for the first 30 seconds.
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