As desktop processors were first crossing the Gigahertz level, it seemed for a while that there was nowhere to go but up. But clock speed progress eventually ground to a halt, not because of anything to do with the speed itself but rather because of the power requirements and the heat all that power generated. Even with the now-common fans and massive heatsinks, along with some sporadic water cooling, heat remains a limiting factor that often throttles current processors. Part of the problem with liquid cooling solutions is that they’re limited by having to get the heat out of the chip and into the water in the first place. That has led some researchers to consider running the liquid through the chip itself. Now, some researchers from Switzerland have designed the chip and cooling system as a single unit, with on-chip liquid channels placed next to the hottest parts of the chip. The results are an impressive boost in heat-limited performance. This seems like a very logical next step for watercooling and processor cooling in general, but this is far from easy. This article highlights that we are getting closer, though.
Operating systems and file systems have traditionally been developed hand in hand. They impose mutual constraints on each other. Today we have two major leaders in file system semantics: Windows and POSIX. They are very close to each other when compared to the full set of possibilities. Interesting things happened before POSIX monopolized file system semantics. When you use a file system through a library instead of going through the operating system there are some extra possibilities. You are no longer required to obey the host operating system’s semantics for filenames. You get to decide if you use / or \ to separate directory components (or something else altogether). Maybe you don’t even use strings for filenames. The fs-fatfs library uses a list of strings, so it’s up to the caller to define a directory separator for themselves. While working on that library, I was driven to write down some ideas that I’ve previously run across and found inspirational. A deep dive into file system hierarchies before the major platforms we used today – POSIX and Windows – became the two de-facto standards. Excellent article, and a joy to read.
Before you click the link, please try and answer the question past the blurb. I am still using it at work, but not at home since 2001 when I upgraded to Windows 2000 – then I upgraded to XP in 2002 and this was the last Windows version I ran at home. After that I upgraded to Linux/Unix and have not had any reason to look back. So, this person is still using Windows 95 at work today. Before clicking through – can you guess what this person’s job is?
Android 11 has arrived! The latest release is all about helping you get to what’s important on your phone with easier ways to help you manage your conversations, connected devices, privacy, and much more. In honor of the 11th version of Android, here are 11 new things that are coming in Android 11. That’s the Google PR blurb, and here’s the conclusion from The Verge’s review of Android 11: When (or, sadly, if) the update arrives on your Android phone, what you’ll find is that a few important things that used to get lost in the interface are now easier to find. You’ll also see that Android is still playing catch-up with iOS when it comes to privacy restrictions, but progress is nevertheless being made. Mostly, though, you’ll get a very familiar interface that does very familiar things. That’s not a complaint, just a recognition that Android 11 is a mature OS, so year-over-year improvements tend to be in the “slow and steady” category. Coming to a phone near you. At some point. Maybe. Who knows.
Arm is known for its Cortex range of processors in mobile devices, however the mainstream Cortex-A series of CPUs which are used as the primary processing units of devices aren’t the only CPUs which the company offers. Alongside the microcontroller-grade Cortex-M CPU portfolio, Arm also offers the Cortex-R range of “real-time” processors which are used in high-performance real-time applications. The last time we talked about a Cortex-R product was the R8 release back in 2016. Back then, the company proposed the R8 to be extensively used in 5G connectivity solutions inside of modem subsystems. Another large market for the R-series is storage solutions, with the Cortex-R processors being used in HDD and SSD controllers as the main processing elements. Today, Arm is expanding its R-series portfolio by introducing the new Cortex-R82, representing the company’s first 64-bit Armv8-R architecture processor IP, meaning it’s the first 64-bit real-time processor from the company. AnandTech and its usual deep dive into the intricacies of this new lineup from ARM. Obviously these kinds of chips are not something most people actively work with – we tend to merely use them, often even without realising it.
The Supreme Court is considering whether to adopt a broad reading of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act that critics say could criminalize some types of independent security research and create legal uncertainty for many security researchers. Voatz, an online voting vendor whose software was used by West Virginia for overseas military voters in the 2018 election, argues that this wouldn’t be a problem. “Necessary research and testing can be performed by authorized parties,” Voatz writes in an amicus brief to the Supreme Court. “Voatz’s own security experience provides a helpful illustration of the benefits of authorized security research, and also shows how unauthorized research and public dissemination of unvalidated or theoretical security vulnerabilities can actually cause harmful effects.” As it happens, we covered a recent conflict between Voatz and an independent security researcher in last Thursday’s deep dive on online voting. And others involved in that altercation did not see it the way Voatz did. This reminds me of TurboTax in the United States, who lobbies aggressively to keep filing taxes as difficult as possible as to protect its business.
When Apple announced that it was going to be licensing Mac OS to other PC makers, DayStar essentially bet its business on converting from being a manufacturer of high-end upgrades for Apple-built Macs to being a manufacturer of high-end Mac clones. DayStar’s clone was the Genesis MP, and the MP stood for multiprocessing. It was the very first Mac to combine the work of multiple processors toward a common goal. The problem: Classic Mac OS wasn’t built for multiple processor cores. The operating system knew about its processor, and it used it, and that was it. But the engineers at DayStar had been working on something novel for its high-end audience. There was such a wealth of innovation coming out of the clone program that Apple itself simply couldn’t do. As consumers, there’s lessons to be learned from the clone program – artificial limitations do not serve us. They only serve corporations.
Linux capable RISC-V boards do exist but cost several hundred dollars or more with the likes of HiFive Unleashed and PolarFire SoC Icicle development kit. If only there was a RISC-V board similar to the Raspberry Pi board and with a similar price point… The good news is that the RISC-V International Open Source (RIOS) Laboratory is collaborating with Imagination technologies to bring PicoRio RISC-V SBC to market at a price point similar to Raspberry Pi. I’m 100% ready for fully top-to-bottom open source hardware, whether it’s Power9/Power10 at the high end, or RISV-V at the low end. ARM is a step backwards in this regard compared to x86, and while I doubt RISC-V or Power will magically displace either of those two, the surge in interest in ARM for more general purpose computing at least opens the door just a tiny little bit.
The Nanoprocessor is a mostly-forgotten processor developed by Hewlett-Packard in 1974 as a microcontroller for their products. Strangely, this processor couldn’t even add or subtract, probably why it was called a nanoprocessor and not a microprocessor. Despite this limitation, the Nanoprocessor powered numerous Hewlett-Packard devices ranging from interface boards and voltmeters to spectrum analyzers and data capture terminals. The Nanoprocessor’s key feature was its low cost and high speed: Compared against the contemporary Motorola 6800, the Nanoprocessor cost $15 instead of $360 and was an order of magnitude faster for control tasks. Recently, the six masks used to manufacture the Nanoprocessor were released by Larry Bower, the chip’s designer, revealing details about its design. The composite mask image below shows the internal circuitry of the integrated circuit. The blue layer shows the metal on top of the chip, while the green shows the silicon underneath. The black squares around the outside are the 40 pads for connection to the IC’s external pins. I used these masks to reverse-engineer the circuitry of the processor and understand its simple but clever RISC-like design. This is a very detailed and in-depth article, so definitely not for the faint of heart. Definitely a little over my head, but I know for a fact there’s quite a few among you that love and understand this sort of stuff deeply.
In August, Intel ran one of its rare Architecture Days where the company went into some detail about its upcoming Tiger Lake processor. This included target markets, core counts, graphics counts, a look into some of the new acceleration features, and a promise of a product launch later in the year. That product launch is now here, and Intel is providing Tiger Lake with speeds and feeds, providing detail and expected benchmark performance for Intel’s next generation of notebook-class devices. A whole slew of laptops using Tiger Lake processors have also been announced today, as well as something called “Intel Evo“, which is a set of specifications OEMs can adhere to for especially high-end ultrabooks (sadly, Evo is entirely Windows-focused, and zero work has been done for other operating systems, such as Linux).
If you’re looking for a fancy new way to launch your favourite apps in GNOME Shell the awesomely innovative GNOME extension featured below should appeal! It’s called Fly-Pie and despite being at an early stage in its development (i.e. expect bugs, missing features, possible death, etc) it’s already looking pretty functional as this YouTube video ably demonstrates. Neat. Not sure if it’s for me – the mouse movements seem slow, and not as fast as simply using something like uLauncher – but at least it’s a little bit different.
This version of the book has undergone a major reorganization. It uses enhanced cross-compilation techniques and an environment isolated from the host system to build tools for the final system. This reduces both the chance for changing the the host system and the potential of the host system influencing the LFS build process. Major package updates include toolchain versions glibc-2.32, gccc-10.2.0, and binutils-2.35. In total, 37 packages were updated since the last release. The Linux kernel has also been updated to version 5.8.3. There’s a separate version for systemd – for those so inclined.
With much anticipation and more than a few leaks, NVIDIA this morning is announcing the next generation of video cards, the GeForce RTX 30 series. Based upon the gaming and graphics variant of NVIDIA’s Ampere architecture and built on an optimized version of Samsung’s 8nm process, NVIDIA is touting the new cards as delivering some of their greatest gains ever in gaming performance. All the while, the latest generation of GeForce will also be coming with some new features to further set the cards apart from and ahead of NVIDIA’s Turing-based RTX 20 series. The first card out the door will be the GeForce RTX 3080. With NVIDIA touting upwards of 2x the performance of the RTX 2080, this card will go on sale on September 17th for $700. That will be followed up a week later by the even more powerful GeFoce RTX 3090, which hits the shelves September 24th for $1500. Finally, the RTX 3070, which is being positioned as more of a traditional sweet spot card, will arrive next month at $499. My GTX 1070 is still going strong, and I found the RTX 20xx range far too overpriced for the performance increase they delivered. At $499, though, the RTX 3070 looks like a pretty good deal, but it wouldn’t be the first time supplies will be low, and thus, prices will skyrocket.
ArcaOS 5.0.6 includes refreshed content and fixes since 5.0.5 was released. If you have experienced difficulty installing previous releases of ArcaOS on your hardware, 5.0.6 may address your issue(s). If installing from USB stick, the image may be created using any major operating system at hand (Windows, Linux, MacOS, and of course, OS/2, eComStation, and ArcaOS). Once built, the USB stick can be inserted into any USB port in the target system to boot into the ArcaOS installer/updater. It’s a relatively minor release, but anything that improves the chances of being able to install ArcaOS I’ll take. I’ve had some major issues getting it to boot on modern hardware – despite excellent help from the ArcaOS team, we couldn’t get it to work – so I hope I can find some time somewhere to try it again.
Red Hat’s Christian Schaller: This weekend the X1 Carbon with Fedora Workstation went live in North America on Lenovos webstore. This is a big milestone for us and for Lenovo as its the first time Fedora ships pre-installed on a laptop from a major vendor and its the first time the world’s largest laptop maker ships premium laptops with Linux directly to consumers. Currently only the X1 Carbon is available, but more models is on the way and more geographies will get added too soon. It seems Lenovo is taking its embrace of Linux quite seriously, with proper integration with things like Linux Vendor Firmware Service and Fwupd. The blog post goes into a number of other recent improvements the Fedora project is working on, too.
This release enables quite a lot of new things to appear in const fn, two new standard library APIs, and one feature useful for library authors. See the detailed release notes to learn about other changes not covered by this post. Well, not much for me to add.
We’ve been hearing rumors over the past few months related to a secret phone project at LG, codenamed “Wing.” The LG Wing appears to be a new take on dual-display phones by featuring a secondary display that flips out in a twisting motion. Android Authority has obtained an exclusive video that shows a near-final version of the phone, making us think its release date can’t be too far away. The video gives us a better idea of how the phone will work while simultaneously giving us some hints of why the secondary display could be useful. I’m so glad that device makers are getting a bit more adventurous again. We’re sure not at crazy Nokia level yet, but at least we’re slowly getting devices that aren’t boring slabs.
Facebook published a blog post detailing how iOS 14 will have a negative impact on its ad business since Apple’s upcoming update will ask users for permission before allowing companies like Facebook from collecting user data through Apple’s device identifier. Given the impact the policy will have on businesses’ ability to market themselves and monetize through ads, we’re sharing how we’re addressing iOS 14 changes and providing recommendations to help our partners prepare, while developers await more details on this policy. While we may not all agree on which companies we dislike the least – Google, Microsoft, Apple, whatever – I’m pretty sure we can all agree we hate Facebook. So sit back, relax, and smile as you read through this.
Epic Games just won a temporary restraining order against Apple — at least in part. Effective immediately, Apple can’t retaliate against the company by terminating the developer account used to support the company’s Unreal Engine. But in the same ruling, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers decided that Apple will not be required to bring Fortnite — which it had banned after Epic added an in-app payment system in violation of Apple’s rules — back to the App Store. I think this is a fair order. Epic willingly and purposefully broke the agreement it entered into with Apple to elicit a response and strengthen their lawsuit case, and Apple is well within its right to remove Fortnite as a result. However, for Apple to then also block and remove everything else related to Epic is clearly retaliatory and petty, and the judge seemed to have seen right through Apple (and Epic’s) nonsense. Of course, this is technically not part of the actual lawsuit filed by Epic that started all of this – these are the opening salvos in what will be a long, drawn-out fight.
Following ongoing work for over a year on moving to OpenZFS for FreeBSD’s ZFS file-system support, FreeBSD HEAD overnight has imported the OpenZFS code-base. ZFS – almost another casualty of Larry Ellison. I’m damn glad it’s managed to live on.