Meet you back here in half an hour. What are you going to do? What I always do - stay out of trouble... Badly.
Wednesday, October 31
Out Damn Singularity!
So my still-new Nexus 7 and my even newer New iPad are now both obsolete, replaced by the more capacityful New Nexus 7 and the fasteriffic New New iPad.
And here's the Nexus 10, just to complicate matters: One of the first Arm Cortex A15 devices to reach the market, 2GB RAM (twice as much as the Nexus 7), 16 or 32GB of flash (twice as much as the Old Nexus 7 but the same as the New Nexus 7), 2560x1600 display (vs. 1280x800), starting at $399. So cheaper, faster, and higher resolution than my Old New iPad. Which I only bought last month.
There's a problem, though, with the Nexus 7, Nexus 10, and the Nexus 4 - and shared with the iPad, iPad Mini, iPhone, and iPod Touch: Not one of these devices has any expansion capability. Between them, they have a total of zero micro-SD slots.
Given how fast these devices are coming out, how cheap SD cards are, how much Apple and Google charge for incremental upgrades, and how fast I filled up my Nexus 7, that's simply not good enough.
I was thinking of replacing my 16GB Nexus 7 with the 32GB model and giving the original to a family member, but now that Google has crippled the Nexus 10 and Nexus 4 the same way, I'm just getting ticked off.
The Asus Transformer Infinity is kind of expensive, but it has 64GB of flash built-in, a micro-SD slot in the tablet part, and a full-size SD slot in the keyboard dock. So I could have 256GB in total, today - and more later. Other expandable candidates include Samsung's Galaxy Note 10.1, Galaxy Note 2, and Galaxy S3. The Note 2 isn't available in Australia yet, but I can add the S3 to my sim-only mobile plan pretty cheaply.
If I could expect a new device to last more than a few months without becoming obsolete, I wouldn't mind so much. But since that's not the case, I do. Mind. So much.
Update: For crying out loud... I posted this yesterday. Since then, the Note 2 has been announced for Australia (November 14 release date) and now it looks like there's a Note 7 coming out. I'd much rather have a Note 7 than just a larger capacity Nexus 7, so I'll put that on hold. But if iiNet get the Note 2 (and they already have the Note and S3, so it's highly likely) then I'll get that as a phone, and there's a question of whether I really need a 5.5" phone and a high-end 7" tablet. Want, yes. Need... Probably yes. But then the Nexus 10 launches on November 13....
If Samsung can merge the Note 2 with the Nexus 7 for a Note 7 (preferably 1080P), and the Note 10.1 with the Nexus 10 for a Note 10.2, I'll happily buy all three sizes, because that would tick every box on my wish list. (32GB, SD card, stylus, brighter colours, higher resolution, and HDMI out.)
I actually have a couple of new wishlist items after using the Nexus 7 for longer: 2GB RAM (already implemented in the Note 2 and Nexus 10) and a Cortex A15 (found in the Nexus 10). The memory needs became apparent when I found that the simple puzzle game Cut the Rope was using 100MB of memory - even when I wasn't playing it. The CPU requirements are mostly from browsing complex web sites - Chrome on the Nexus 7 is maybe 5x slower than my desktop PC.
Those "obsolete" tablets are still as good as they were after the announcements. Its not like they are any less useful for the fact there are newer models.
Granted it irks to have my iPad3 be the one dropped totally. My money was on the iPad2 but for some reason people keep buying them apparently. More so then the iPad3.
I prune pretty much all apps that don't get used frequently. With content like books and comics I'm nowhere near capacity. Still 11Gb free on 64Gb. Mind, I don't have much video on it though.
The master for everything resides on servers (Amazon, Comixology) or my laptop.
I'm not familiar with Android but I've read that expansion cards are purely storage. Programs can't be run off them. As for content I can only guess.
The iPad3 is dead. Long live the iPad4. If the fates are cruel then that will be early next year.
Wait. Microsoft Surface. Shiny !
Posted by: Andrew at Wednesday, October 31 2012 10:31 PM (Ob5uo)
I wonder if Amazon will put a micro-SD slot in the new Fire?
Andrew - I've heard that argument. It's only made by bad people.
Seriously, though, my Nexus 7 is 90% full, even after pruning my downloads and uninstalling my largest apps. A micro-SD slot adds only a tiny amount to the cost of a device like this and greatly extends its useful lifespan. Google and Apple (and Amazon and B&N) have multiple reasons for leaving out this capability, but from a consumer standpoint, they're just a bunch of jerks.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Wednesday, October 31 2012 11:23 PM (PiXy!)
Steven - very unlikely. Even more than Google and Apple, Amazon isn't in the tablet business, but in the selling you stuff to go on your tablet business. Anything that might distract from that gets cut.
Removable storage is also problematic for DRM - makes it much easier to break the protection.
At least the Kindle app lets me read my books just about anywhere, and Baen and TOR are DRM-free.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Wednesday, October 31 2012 11:35 PM (PiXy!)
Why not go for the Samsung Galaxy 2? It's got the micro SD port.
Posted by: Avatar_exADV at Thursday, November 01 2012 04:27 AM (GJQTS)
An old trick with some devices was to open 'em up and upgrade the ram or flash--with my HP iPaq or the NSLU2, you could solder a second set of RAM chips on top the first one to double the memory. I wonder if that'd be possible with these tablets.
Posted by: RickC at Thursday, November 01 2012 11:42 AM (WQ6Vb)
Avatar - if you mean the Galaxy Note 2, they just announced that it will launch in Australia November 14. If my carrier gets it (and they have the original Note) then that's what I'll get.
Rick - wouldn't want to try it myself, but it might be possible (particularly if it's a standard interface like eMMC).
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Thursday, November 01 2012 03:23 PM (PiXy!)
I'm not sure if I'd want to try it either, but the people at Sparkfun keep saying that SMD soldering isn't that hard. In the Pocket PC era there were companies that would do it for you if you shipped your machine to them. It cost quite a bit, of course, but given how memory-constrained those devices were, I bet it would help a lot. (I really liked my iPaq, an hx4705, which had a 500MHz CPU in 2005, but it only had, I think 32MB of RAM.)
Posted by: RickC at Friday, November 02 2012 01:47 AM (A9FNw)
Obi Wan Pixy, I hate to tell ya this, but I'm getting the "bandwidth exceeded" message when I try to read Blather Review. Any way of making my wonderful world of crossword solving available again? Pretty please with a cherry on top? :-D
Posted by: Tuning Spork at Tuesday, October 30 2012 12:51 AM (fSf9N)
I had an earlier rant about VMWare's pricing on Workstation 9: Not only was the pricing 25% higher than version 8, but they now had an Australian store that charged 40% more than the US store, for a price increase of 75%.
The Australian store now only charges 4% more than the US store. Given that we have a national sales tax of 10% and the Aussie dollar is currently about 3 cents over parity, that's reasonable enough.
Had some problems setting up Sakura, the new backup server. I could not get an ext4 filesystem to build under LVM on software RAID-5. It worked fine for the filesystems I set up at install time, but once the server was up, creating more pretty much made the server lock up.
Then I updated the kernel and suddenly it all worked. Hmm.
Now I just need to transfer about 15 million files across and we're good to go. Good to start getting ready to go, anyway. Slight problem in that this will use up most of our monthly bandwidth allocation.* But eh, we'll see how it goes.
* On the old servers. We have a ton of bandwidth on the new servers.
My new servers at ReliableSite in New Jersey - Aoi and Midori - use Xeon E3-1245 v2 chips; the ones at Incero in Dallas - Akane and Mikan - use Xeon E3-1270 v2s. There's only 100MHz between them - 3.4GHz and 3.5GHz respectively; the 1245 has integrated graphics while the 1270 does not, so the 1270 uses slightly less power but needs a video card or a motherboard with integrated graphics.
I have a Xeon E3-1230 as well, the previous generation at 3.2GHz.
The 1270 v2 runs my Python benchmark 15% faster than the 1230 v1, which is ~10% clock speed and 5% architecture. Fine.
The 1245 v2 runs the benchmark 25% faster than the 1230 v1. I checked several times, and it's consistent. Don't know why, but it's consistent. It looks like Incero and ReliableSite are using different motherboards, but that shouldn't make a difference to this benchmark.
It's also in line with the Passmark benchmark results that show the E3 v2 chips competing with the low-end Opteron 6200. They don't have the same memory capacity or bandwidth, and can't scale past a single socket, but they're certainly fast.
And we now have five of them. Well, I broke one, so four right now, but I'll have that fixed tomorrow.
Today I installed a CentOS 6.3 server - in Dallas - from an ISO on my PC - in Sydney - using the IPMI virtual USB device.
Okay, I took the easy route and did a net install from the mirror at Limestone Networks (also in Dallas), so it only took 40 minutes to get to the package selection menu and after that everything was nice and quick. But then I decided I wanted to rename my logical volumes, got it wrong, broke everything, had to reinstall, had Anaconda freak out and crash, had to reinstall again, had to go out to the shops while I was still waiting for the package selection menu to come up, had to reinstall again, and finally got things exactly the way I want them.
In short: It works, but it's not something you would ever want to do.
Akane and Mikan came online yesterday, but are offline again for some reconfigurationising.* They should be back soon.
Aoi and Midori have been ordered and will be provisioned soon as well.
Sakura is still being set up. Kurumi is still around, doing nothing, but will probably be replaced with an equivalent config to Sakura (so twice its current disk and memory.)
Those six servers in all will cost me about as much as I currently pay for two, while delivering more of everything. I'll have 20TB of disk (all in RAID), 192GB of RAM, 1TB of SSD (all RAIDed), and 120TB of bandwidth.
Akane, Mikan, and Sakura will form one cluster in Dallas; Aoi, Midori, and Kurumi a second cluster in New Jersey.
The change in plans from earlier this year was sparked by plummeting SSD prices - 50% in just six months. I need a pair of SSDs in each server for performance and redundancy, and back in April that was expensive, pushing me towards a small number of large servers. Now I can get two servers, each with 32GB memory, two 2TB disks and two 256GB SSDs, for nearly the price of one server with 64GB of memory and that same storage configuration from before. So I get twice the storage and twice the bandwidth - and according to Passmark, twice the CPU performance** for about 10% more.
Update: Deployed! 2 x E3-1270 v2 in Dallas, 2 x E3-1245 vs in New Jersey.
* Either the technician wasn't paying close attention or their system is automated, because I ended up with my disks RAIDed together with my SSDs. Which works just fine, but isn't particularly useful. (Update: Apparently it's automated, and since I ticked the box for RAID-1, that's what the provisioning system did. They're manually reinstalling the servers now.)
** Passmark's results look a bit weird sometimes; they're averages of user-submitted results, and they change over time for reasons I can't explain. Anyway, I'm replacing the Opteron 6272 in New Jersey with a pair of Xeon 1245 V2s, and putting in another pair of 1270 (possibly V2s as well) in Dallas. Passmark put all those CPUs at about the same score, where my benchmarks suggest the 6272 should be at least 30% faster. We'll see when next one of the little maids comes online.
However, it's also only 40% as expensive as the top-of-the-line Intel chip, and as SemiAccurate note, you can't see the difference in CPU speed in day-to-day tasks, but you can see the difference in GPU speed. Games that are unplayable on Intel's integrated graphics run relatively smoothly on AMD's chips. Of course, an Intel chip plus a dedicated graphics card will win over the AMD chip alone every time, but that costs more again.
Another thing to consider is that if the game you're playing is a console port, AMD's integrated graphics now clearly outclass current-generation consoles. The higher-end Trinity parts deliver 600 GFLOPS vs. 240 GFLOPS for the Xbox 360's GPU.
Against the competitively-priced Intel Core i3, the CPU results are mixed, though the Intel chip does show better single-threaded performance. The GPU results are entirely one-sided, though, with the AMD chips showing two, three, four, and in the case of Civilization V* a humiliating seven times the speed of Intel's integrated graphics.
They also test power consumption of the AMD vs. the Intel chips running the game Metro 2033, and AMD fares poorly there, using twice as much power overall. But you have to consider that it's also running the game twice as fast...
Looking at the SemiAccurate article I can understand AMD's feelings here - you don't want the first stories about your new chip to say that it's 40% slower than the competition - even though the competition is more than twice the price. I'm less convinced that putting an embargo on reality is the solution to that problem.
In all, though, this is the chip I'd choose for a general-purpose desktop or HTPC build, and probably for a home server as well.** Specifically the A10 5700, a 65W part that's only slightly slower than the 100W A10 5800K. For my higher-end machines, I'm still awaiting the FX 8350, which is due... Soonish.
* I have a free copy of this on Steam, if any of my regular readers are interested.
** Servers don't need the GPU power - not unless you're running floating point apps that can take advantage of it as a GPGPU. The reason AMD is better for small servers is all down to Intel's marketing.
Intel have a nasty practice of market fragmentation; their slower and cheaper CPUs aren't just slower and cheaper, they are actually missing features found on their higher-end chips, features that are relevant to servers. For example, Trinity is up to 6x as fast as a Core i3 for encryption, because AMD support hardware-accelerated encryption on all their chips, while Intel only enable it on select models. The Core i3 also lacks VT-d, which you really want if you're running virtual servers, and Trusted Execution ("TXT"), which you probably don't want at all. And it's clock-locked, so no overclocking for you! Though Trinity isn't a great overclocker anyway. Unless you douse it in liquid nitrogen; then you can hit 8GHz.
Hm, that's interesting. My current desktop is a 2007-era 2.13GHz Core 2 Duo. I had been looking at a 3rd-gen Core i5 as a replacement (because then I can go quad-core), but that means around $300 in upgrades, because I'd need a new motherboard and RAM. The Bulldozers are quite a bit cheaper, but I was concerned over the performance difference. (The integrated graphics on the new Trinities are only going to impress me if a midrange one can beat my 1GB 5670HD, so my CPU is already by a good margin the system bottleneck.) I'm going to read the article you linked above but if the Trinities are better than the Bulldozers on CPU that may flip me back to the AMD side, especially if that combo can play, say, WoW well at 1600x1200.
Posted by: RickC at Wednesday, October 03 2012 04:12 AM (A9FNw)
Also, let me just take this opportunity to tilt at windmills and excoriate SemiAccurate for their lame attempt to defeat copy-paste. Guys, 1996 called and wants to let you know about View Source.
Posted by: RickC at Wednesday, October 03 2012 04:15 AM (A9FNw)
Looks like the Trinity GPU core is right on par with the 5670, but a GDDR5 5670 card would have about twice the memory bandwidth. Depending on the game, that might make a big difference.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Wednesday, October 03 2012 01:02 PM (PiXy!)
Well, that's what I have, actually. It's an HiQ, and they made something like 7 models of this card for some crazy reason, and I got one of the better ones on sale--not due to any smarts on my part, it's what the store had. But an A6-5600K + mobo is about the same cost as an i3, and since my current motherboard is a socket 775 I would have to get a new mobo anyway. So I might actually go with AMD for the first time in years, on the idea that mostly web browsing+email+WoW/Wizard101/games like that is probably going to be plenty fine on that system.
Posted by: Rick C at Friday, October 05 2012 06:43 AM (WQ6Vb)
Also, Intel are changing sockets again next year, so if you buy an Intel system now, you won't be able to upgrade. Shame, because the next iteration of chips sounds like it will be pretty nice.
AMD just changed sockets, and next year's update is promised to work in this year's motherboards.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Friday, October 05 2012 02:27 PM (PiXy!)
Posted by: RickC at Saturday, October 06 2012 09:31 AM (WQ6Vb)
They're keeping 2011 for another year (I think) but moving from socket 1155 to 1150.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Saturday, October 06 2012 05:36 PM (PiXy!)
I've bought all AMD machines since 2007, about one a year on average (since I always need two, one for Windows and one for Linux), and while I can't use the newest AMD chips in the oldest motherboards or vice-versa, I do have a couple of CPUs that will work across the entire range. (Moving from AM2 to AM2+ to AM3, the CPUs are backwards compatible, and AM3 CPUs work in AM3+ boards, but not vice-versa. The latest AM3+ chips need different voltages, so you need a motherboard that supports that.)
And they're planning to keep AM3+ for two more CPU generations. After that, DDR4 will have hit the desktop and it will be time to upgrade anyway.
In the same time, Intel will have had four completely incompatible sockets.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Saturday, October 06 2012 05:49 PM (PiXy!)
Okay, this is a bit off the track of comments, but I am trying to figure this out....What is the AMD equivalent of Intel's i7?
Posted by: cxt217 at Sunday, October 07 2012 06:13 AM (f46Jh)
The FX series. I have a couple of FX 8150 systems. They're not bad, but they're not quite as fast as the i7 and use more power at full load. On the other hand, they're cheaper and the sockets are cross-compatible with older AMD systems, which was good for me.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Sunday, October 07 2012 08:29 AM (PiXy!)
Thanks. I did look that up, reading about Haswell. Looks like they moved a bunch of pins around, including no longer having separate power for the GPU. Would be nice if that didn't require ANOTHER socket change.
My current system is a Core 2 Duo E6400 from 2007, and it still works but it's getting a little long in the tooth. While I'd love to buy a high-end CPU, it's not in the cards right now, and I'm not doing a lot of stuff that would need it. The Trinities are sounding pretty interesting--an A6 or A8 coupled with my 5670 seems like it would be a decent upgrade for under $200; whereas if I was going to go with an Intel chip I'd probably want to get an i5, and now we're looking at $300.
Posted by: Rick C at Sunday, October 07 2012 10:11 AM (WQ6Vb)
Thanks Pixy. I have been using PCs with AMD chipsets for a number of years now, due primarily to advice from certain people who despises Evil Inside(TM) (IIRC, which developed from when Intel was doing something to their chips that would make them easier to track.). Also, when I was shopping around for something to serve as my current desktop, I looked at AMD systems because they were easier to upgrade the graphics card then the PCs with Intel integrated graphics.
But given the power of the i7 chips, and as long as the integrated graphics is not a factor (Either because it is not there, or the graphics do not need to be on bleeding edge for the system.), I have been taking a very favorable look at my next system using Intel chipsets.
Posted by: cxt217 at Sunday, October 07 2012 01:09 PM (f46Jh)
But if there is an AMD equivalent to the i7, I would inclined to buy a AMD system, all things being equal.
Posted by: cxt217 at Sunday, October 07 2012 01:14 PM (f46Jh)
The next-gen FX parts are expected to come out this month, with the top of the line FX 830 costing around $250.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Monday, October 08 2012 12:47 AM (PiXy!)
So the Visheras are the higher-end procs and the Trinities are the lower-end ones. I didn't realize that. Explains why the Trinities, in spited of going all the way to "A10", are only dual- and quad-cores.
Probably any of them would beat my existing CPU handily.
Posted by: RickC at Monday, October 08 2012 01:56 PM (WQ6Vb)
Yeah, that's the thing. The tech sites get all bothered over differences of a few percent, but if your computer is three or four years old, any of the modern CPUs is likely to be a good upgrade.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Monday, October 08 2012 05:38 PM (PiXy!)
The nice thing from a consumer point of view is that Trinity/Vishera is killing the prices of Llano. Newegg's got the A8-3870K for $109.99 and the 3850 for $99.99, and, to put those numbers in perspective, refurb 3850s for "$99.99, was $199.99". So clearly there's a fire sale going on, and given that, IIRC, Trinity has about a 10-15% boost over Llano, getting the latter probably makes a lot of sense especially if you don't mind upgrading in a year or so instead of 3.
Posted by: RickC at Tuesday, October 09 2012 11:57 PM (A9FNw)
Problem is, Trinity uses a different socket to Llano.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Wednesday, October 10 2012 02:34 PM (PiXy!)
Yeah. Re-reading that, I think I meant Llano->Vishera, assuming Vishera's AM3+, not FM2. I can't find, on a quick search, what it will have.
My wife called me at work today, saying the computer wouldn't power up, so this is acquiring a certain amount of urgency, heh. When I got home, I blew a dust cloud out of my PSU, and the machine started, but I don't know how much longer it's going to last. Newegg's selling an interesting combo right now: an MSI motherboard with an A4-5300 for $105. Ooh, i just noticed, for $35 more, they have a Biostar/A6-5400K combo, although I don't know if it'll be enough extra oomph to justify.
Posted by: RickC at Thursday, October 11 2012 01:21 PM (WQ6Vb)
The graphics on the A6 are 50% faster than the A4, but CPU performance is only marginally better, and if you have a graphics card the integrated graphics doesn't matter much.
Just to clarify:
Vishera is socket AM3+, which is semi-compatible with AM2/AM2+/AM3.
Llano is socket FM1.
Trinity is socket FM2.
So Llano is unfortunately a dead-end, but the other sockets will be getting new CPUs for at least another generation and probably two.
Posted by: Pixy Misa at Thursday, October 11 2012 03:20 PM (PiXy!)
Posted by: RickC at Friday, October 12 2012 10:02 AM (WQ6Vb)
In case you are interested, I bought a Trinity A8-5600K and am currently running at stock speeds. It has a 7560D inside. With 4GB of RAM and an MSI motherboard, the WEI on WIndows 8 64-bit is 7.3 CPU, 4.1 desktop graphics, and 6.1 gaming. By comparison, my 1GB 5670HD discrete card rated 6.9 for both desktop and gaming. The integrated GPU is better than the Intel first-gen i5s, but it's not much of a comparison to a real card.
Posted by: Rick C at Monday, October 22 2012 01:59 PM (WQ6Vb)
Also: I love the new chip, it's so much faster than my C2D.
Posted by: Rick C at Monday, October 22 2012 01:59 PM (WQ6Vb)
I've been buying five new Android apps a day recently.
Thanks to Google, that's been costing me $1.25. They're having a bit of a sale - to celebrate 25 billion downloads, they're offering a new selection of top apps each day at just 25Â¢ each.
Today's purchases included the well-regarded adventure game HORN. 25Â¢. 1.7GB download. My Nexus 7 only has 16GB of flash, total, and about 13GB available after the OS and reserved space. A 25Â¢ app just ate 13% of the space on my $250 device. (Actually, it's US$250, but A$300.)
I also bought The Dark Knight Rises Batman game. I wasn't going to at first, then I realised that at 25Â¢, the time I'd spent thinking about it had already cost me more than the game itself. That's another 1.8GB. After HORN, I don't think I have that much space left.
64GB model now, please. Or better, 128GB. I'd even consider buying a 256GB model if the price differential was competitive to SSDs - i.e. below $1/GB.
Also, microSD is not a luxury in these devices, it's essential.