Tuesday, February 28
Saint Elmo's FireWire Edition
- 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.
- How does the Ryzen 7950X3D perform under Linux? It's complicated. (Phoronix)
On a geometric mean of 400 benchmarks (!) it's 3% slower than the regular 7950X while using 40% less power. Compared to the 13900K it's 11% faster while again using 40% less power.
On some specific benchmarks that extra cache lets it blow everything else out of the water, so if you are running some specific computational kernel, it's worth taking a look through those benchmarks; you might get a 50% speedup over any other desktop chip at minimal cost.
- Leaks have revealed the details of the Z890 for Intel's Meteor Lake-S desktop CPUs - which other leaks suggest have been cancelled. (WCCFTech)
There will be Meteor Lake laptop chips, but desktops are probably stuck with, uh, hang on... With Raptor Lake until next year.
- The TP-Link TL-SH1832 is a fanless 24 port 2.5Gb Ethernet switch with 8 10GbE SFP+ ports that costs as little as $400 if you could buy it which you mostly can't. (Serve the Home)
I'd rather that the SFP+ ports were RJ45, but it doesn't matter a whole lot if you can only get it via SuperBuy for Taobao.
- Elon Musk has laid off more Twitter staff bringing the total employees down to around 2000, and is waving generous stock bonuses at the ones who made the cut. (The Verge)
Before Musk took over Twitter employed 7500 people directly plus over 5000 contractors, so he's cut costs rather significantly.
As one employee who was just laid off told me, "I think he’s just tearing this thing down to the studs and trying to run as lean as possible till the market turns around."Maybe hire that one back; he's smarter than the entire mainstream media put together.
Monday, February 27
The Sheep Don't Look Up Edition
- Mobile World Conference starts today, so here's a roundup of all the great new products on offer. (The Verge)
Yeah, there's nothing.
- Can you give me a list so I can short the hell out of them> Some companies are already replacing workers with ChatGPT, noting that despite the warnings from ChatGPT developer OpenAI to the effect that ChatGPT is "wack" and "completely irresponsible" and "entirely lacking in comprehension of the most basic principles of everyday life", so were their workers. (Yahoo)
Maybe I embellished that a little, but you know it's true.
- Republicans - and specifically Chris Rufo - have apparently pounced on "woke AI", a fringe theory that companies are deliberately biasing AI to spout communist propaganda, bolstered only but the fact that companies are deliberately biasing AI to spout communist propaganda. (Washington Post)
At least it keeps us fit.
- AMD's W6800X is faster than any graphics card except the RTX 4090. (Tom's Hardware)
You can't buy one, though, and even if you could buy one you couldn't plug it into a PC - it was made exclusively for the Mac Pro, so that's $6000 for the cheapest configuration and another $2200 for the graphics card. The guy who ran the benchmark this thing used a riser card and a soldering iron to make it work.
Sunday, February 26
Deaccelerated Placoderms Edition
- Nvidia predicts that within ten years we'll have AI models a million times more powerful than ChatGPT. (PC Gamer)
A million times useless then.
And Nvidia would say that, because ChatGPT runs on approximately $100 million worth of Nvidia graphics cards. (Modern graphics cards are quite good at running AI calculations, and cheaper than dedicated AI hardware.)
- I'm not the only person who sees this connection. (Antipope)
Charlie Stross is a science fiction writer who has written extensively on the technological singularity, where I think the singularity is bullshit, but on this we see eye to eye.
- 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.
Saturday, February 25
Watertight Bungholes Edition
- 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.
- 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
Friday, February 24
Twas Brillig Edition
- 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.
- G.Skill has announced a range of DDR5 registered ECC RAM for servers and more significantly workstations like Intel's new W-2400 and W-3400 range. (WCCFTech)
Good, because I literally couldn't find anything suitable at any of the usual places - not Amazon, not Newegg, not Micro Center.
- How are Intel's Arc graphics cards holding up after a few months of driver updates? (Tom's Hardware)
Pretty good. Performance on current games is down slightly, but older games that still use DirectX 9 run an average of 77% faster.
Also they've cut the price on the A750, making it a reasonably attractive option.
Thursday, February 23
Top Cat White Tie And Tails Edition
- Social media is causing a mental illness epidemic. (Substack)
In teenage girls specifically, but in everyone else as well. The same effect is observed in teen boys but to a much smaller degree, and if you've seen social media lately the trend very obviously extends to adults as well.
What's the solution? Banning teenagers from anything doesn't work terribly well, so I would suggest the old standby of throwing communists out of helicopters. It's like ice cream: It makes everything better.
- Intel's new Xeon W workstation CPUs are nearly as fast as AMD's old Threadripper 5000 range. (WCCFTech)
The story is ostensibly about the new Intel chips setting a world record in one benchmark, which they did, bathed in liquid nitrogen and drawing 1000 amps of current.
But if you scroll down there are some benchmarks that don't involve simultaneously freezing and burning your house down, and they show that while the new Xeons have better single-core performance, they scale worse and are slower on all multi-core tests.
The 24 core Xeon W is faster than a 24 core 13900K, but it should be because all the cores on the Xeon are full size and 16 of the cores on the 13900K are half-size "Efficiency" or E cores. The 13900K is clocked higher, but not enough to catch up.
I'd like to get a proper workstation system so I'm waiting for full reviews of these chips, but I expect the pricing on a full system will exceed my budget.
- AI-based search engines are not only complete garbage but cost ten times as much to run as existing search engines which are still marginally useful some of the time. (Ars Technica)
Let's raise a glass as Google sinks without a trace.
- Gigabytes Aorus Gen 5 10000 has a price and is up for pre-order. (Tom's Hardware)
This is one of the first PCIe 5.0 SSDs, with a transfer rate of 10GBps. Upcoming models expected later this year should hit 12GBps.
The 2TB model is priced at $339. For $399 you can get a Western Digital SN850X - which is PCIe 4.0 and only delivers 7.3GBps, but stores 4TB. Or you can get two of the $160 2TB model and run them in RAID-0, get twice the capacity of the Gigabyte model, 46% better peak transfers, and save $20.
There's not a whole lot of point to PCIe 5.0 on the desktop just yet, but another year will likely change that.
- The latest Razer Blade 15 features a 13800H CPU (6P/8E cores), RTX 4060 or 4070 graphics, a 2560x1440 (probably) screen at 100% DCI-P3 colour, dual Thunderbolt 4 ports, user upgradeable memory and storage, and no trace whatsoever of the Four Essential Keys. (Liliputing)
Because we can't have nice things.
Wednesday, February 22
So Perish All Unbelievers Edition
- Is the Supreme Court going to gut CDA Section 230 like a fish? Probably not. (Tech Crunch)
The court heard oral arguments in Gonzales v. Google today, and will hear arguments in another case also hinging on Section 230 today.
Both cases involve recommendation algorithms promoting terrorist content - not the modern type of "stochastic" terrorism like unbowdlerised editions of Roald Dahl, but the real kind with guns and bombs and random body parts strewn all over the landscape.
The question at hand is whether actively recommending and promoting such content has the same protection as merely failing to remove it. The tenor of the questioning from the justices - and not just the liberal whack jobs - suggests that the court is disinclined to strike down the law.
- Airtable, a software startup developing code for codeless coding whatever the fuck that means, suddenly has a lot fewer coders after laying off 20% of its staff. (Tech Crunch)
"We have plenty of money from the last investment round", said Airtable spokesman Bob "Bob" Bobson, "but with the fuckwits running the planet these days were unlikely to see any more."
This article is actually two months old - I don't remember if I saw it at the time - but tripping over it today I found a link to Layoffs.FYI which is pure automated schadenfreude.
Polygon laid off 20% of its staff today? Guys, your entire blockchain got derailed by a game about growing flowers.
Digital Ocean laid off 11% last week? Well, that actually sucks; they provide a good service and I haven't heard of them being insanely woke or any other variety of asshole.
GoDaddy laid off 500 staff? Was that before or after you discovered that hackers had free roam of your hosting platform for several years?
Dell is laying off 6650 employees - which seems like a lot but apparently represents just 5% of its workforce.
- Best of hands: A Pentagon email server was apparently connected to the internet without a password. (Tech Crunch)
I'm not even sure how you do that. Email servers are normally connected to the internet without a password - passwords apply to individual user accounts, not to the server itself. But apparently they managed:
The exposed server was hosted on Microsoft’s Azure government cloud for Department of Defense customers, which uses servers that are physically separated from other commercial customers and as such can be used to share sensitive but unclassified government data. The exposed server was part of an internal mailbox system storing about three terabytes of internal military emails, many pertaining to U.S. Special Operations Command, or USSOCOM, the U.S. military unit tasked with conducting special military operations.Again, I don't know how this is even possible. It takes real talent to screw up this bad.
But a misconfiguration left the server without a password, allowing anyone on the internet access to the sensitive mailbox data inside using only a web browser, just by knowing its IP address.
Got $15,000 of someone else's money burning a hole in your pocket and a hankering for some obsolescent hardware? Dell has you covered with the Precision 7865 workstation. (Hot Hardware)
Inside and outside it looks like crap to be honest, but it works well. The 64 core AMD Threadripper Pro 5995WX has not actually yet been superseded (though the latest Epyc server CPUs are faster) and the Ampere-based A6000 graphics card is still as fast as a 4070 Ti.
Plus, although the look the review provides at the cooling solution raised questions, it gets the job done and fan noise only hits 45 dB at maximum speed under the FurMark stress test.
It uses more power than a regular desktop PC, but not that much more - and actually less than a system based on Intel's 6GHz 13900KS limited edition.
Tuesday, February 21
Less Than Zero Edition
- How AI will make the Semantic Web possible. (The AI Maze)
It won't. It will do the opposite - fill the web with plausible garbage to a degree that makes search engines utterly useless.
In fact, this is already happening.
R2-D2 was always an oddity because speech synthesis is a much simpler problem than speech recognition. And comprehension is a harder problem than just taking dictation.
In short, we're doomed.
- Clarkesworld - a science fiction magazine - has temporary halted submissions due to AI spam. (Twitter)
This is the 25th and a half century after all.
- Resist this, ya bastard: COE2-2hexyl is a broad-spectrum antibiotic that doesn't seem to trigger the evolution of resistance in bacteria. (Lancet)
It cures infections in mice, so it seems to work, and it's designed to make multiple simultaneous attacks on the bacterial cell membrane so unless it runs into a microscopic Rasputin its victims, even those that survive, aren't likely to give rise to a more resistant new generation.
Monday, February 20
Viking Land Sale Edition
- AMD's new 7745HX laptop CPU looks pretty good. (Tom's Hardware)
The 8 core chip - a separate family with 12 and 16 core versions will come later - is as fast as Intel's 14 core 12900HK from last year, 12% faster than Apple's 12 core M2 Max, and 32% faster than the previous generation 6900HX.
It can't keep up with Intel's new (and power hungry) 24 core 13900HX, but you wouldn't really expect it to. That's the job of the upcoming 12 and 16 core parts.
Will anyone make a laptop based on this chip that isn't horribly flawed in multiple ways?
Signs point to "fat chance".
- Need a motherboard for your new Intel workstation CPU which you don't have because they're not out yet?
ASRock has the W790 WS.
Asus has the Pro WS W790 Ace at the low end, and the Pro WS W790E Sage SE at the high end.
The ASRock and the Ace are designed more for the W-2400 range, with four channel RAM and only five PCIe slots, while the Sage is designed specifically for the more expensive W-3400 range of chips.
Couple of things worth knowing: The two families of CPUs use the same socket and the same chipset, and any chip will work in any of these motherboards. If you use a W-2400 chip in the Sage only half the DIMM slots will work, and only four of the seven PCIe slots. On the other hand, if you put a W-3400 in the other boards, everything on the board will work, but half the memory channels and 3/7ths of the PCIe lanes on the CPU won't be wired up to anything.
Overall it's a good deal; you can start with a $359 6 core CPU and scale up to a 56 core CPU without changing motherboards.
The other thing is that memory. AMD Threadripper motherboards let you use either desktop or server memory - not both at the same time, but whichever one makes sense for you. These motherboards use DDR5 server RAM only, and a quick look around regular retailers like Amazon, Newegg, and Micro Center didn't find much of that available. Zero, in fact.
It exists, but going to Kingston directly didn't really help except for telling me they have a four module per customer limit. That Sage motherboard has eight memory channels.
- Is Nvidia doing it again? (WCCFTech)
Leaked model numbers from Gigabyte indicate three different models of the RTX 4070 - with 10GB, 12GB, or 16GB of RAM. That necessarily means different bus widths, and likely different performance levels.
The 4070 Ti is a 12GB card already, so a 16GB card seems a bit odd here, but there's already the example of the 3060 which has more RAM than the 3060 Ti, 3070, 3070 Ti, and the regular version of the 3080.
- How to keep your Twitter secure without giving Elon Musk any money. (Tech Crunch)
Follow the instructions on Twitter. Seriously. That's what these idiots are bitching about.
Sunday, February 19
All Quiet On The Weastern Front Edition
- Mostly quiet on the tech news front right now.
Microsoft gave Bing the Rosemary Kennedy treatment so there's no more fun there. D&D is still slowly circling the drain, but nobody wants to flush it down. Daily crypto disasters but measured in single-digit millions rather than double-digit billions.
Probably a good thing on the whole.
- The world is suddenly swimming in cobalt, which is a bad idea because it's a toxic heavy metal. (The Economist)
Mostly thanks to the global don't-call-it-a-recession, not due to any new discoveries or technical advances.
- Micron's new 24Gb RAM chips have been picked up by Corsair to produce 24GB and 48GB modules. (Tom's Hardware)
Not official yet, but prices have leaked and the cost per gigabyte is exactly in line with existing 32GB modules. I was actually expecting a hefty premium for these.
- Need a couple of terabits per second of IO bandwidth in your desktop PC? ASRock has you covered. (Tom's Hardware)
Except they don't. That number comes from ASRock's own website but it's off by a factor of four. Half a terabit, sure. One terabit if you count both directions, I guess. Two terabits, two cards.
Apparently this quad M.2 PCIe 5.0 adaptor card will come bundled with their motherboard for the new Intel workstation CPUs, so I'll be looking for more details on that as well.
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