* Posts by Steve Todd

2302 posts • joined 19 Sep 2007

Super Cali's futuristic robo-cars in focus – even though watchdogs say they're something quite atrocious

Steve Todd
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Re: Who wants this?

I think you’ll find you’re in the minority. Most folks just want to commute to work or get from A to B with their family and/or shopping. Just looking at the cars they buy tells you this.

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RAM, bam, awww ... man! Boffins defeat Rowhammer protections

Steve Todd
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Re: Why the emphasis on software mitigations?

@bazza - "AFAIK there's no real hardware fix for this"

Nonsense. The fix is already implemented by Xeon CPUs with pTRR compliant memory at no speed penalty, or by simply doubling the refresh speed at a 2-4% cost.

The issue is the memory controller logic on the CPU. Adding some extra logic at the CPU or RAM side of the equation can spot the potential for rowhammer and increase the refresh rate accordingly.

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Smartphone SatNavs to get centimetre-perfect GNSS receivers in 2018

Steve Todd
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Re: I seem to recall the GPS sats have a dither error parttern

You're thinking of the SA (selective availability) code. This was a deliberate random wobble introduced into the civilian (C/A) signal, while military receivers used the more accurate P signal. SA was disabled in 2000 by presidential order, and the latest block III satellites aren't capable of transmitting it.

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Steve Todd
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Re: Not quite

No, GPS can get away with only 3 satellites for a fix, but can’t give you altitude with just the 3. Four or more are needed for a full 3D fix.

http://www.gpsnuts.com/mygps/gps/technical/ed.htm

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Steve Todd
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Re: Utter bollocks

Receiving a second set of data on a different frequency band solves that one. This chip uses precisely that method to help gain accuracy. GALILEO uses up to three bands, a better encoding scheme and a few other tricks to get down to 1cm resolution.

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Trump accuses Facebook of bias, collusion with his least favourite newspapers

Steve Todd
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All evidence so far

Is that, when presented with all the facts and evidence in the world, if it doesn’t fit with his ideas or agenda it will get dismissed as “fake news”. Trump just doesn’t listen to anything that says he’s incorrect. Period.

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Dyson to build electric car that doesn't suck

Steve Todd
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Re: The UK mostly powered by coal?

@AC - You need to understand the difference between dispatch and dispatch on request.

Steam power has been used for centuries, but in that time no-one has solved the problem of the time it takes to build a head of steam (yes, there have been improvements, but it's still far from instant).

If you know some time in advance that it will be needed then you can prepare for the eventuality. If you need to deliver power on short notice then it is a poor solution. If you need to run the boilers on standby ready for when there is demand then it's a wasteful and inefficient solution.

Your steam train needed hours of work before it set off in order to prepare for a journey. Your coal based power plant throws away vast amounts of heat (have you never wondered what those large towers are next to one?), and it just dumps more heat when it's not generating power rather than converting it to electricity and then dumping it.

The idiocracy does indeed seem to have arrived.

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Steve Todd
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Re: The UK mostly powered by coal?

Coal dispatchable on request? Pull the other one! It’s slow to fire up and better suited to base load. Gas, which makes up better than 45% of current capacity and is cheap to build, is much better at handling surges in demand. Coal stations are either closing down or are converting to the likes of biomas because they can’t meet current emissions standards.

Yes, we need addional capacity if we have a fully electric transport network, but that’s not going to happen anything like overnight and can be planned well in advance. It also will increase demand during what is currently off-peak, so won’t need as much extra as they are implying.

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Steve Todd
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The UK mostly powered by coal?

Given the fact that National Grid says coal stations are currently down to 3.8% of total capacity and falling then I think someone needs to update their numbers.

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Toshiba: The memory saga is nearly behind us! Apple: NOT SO FAST

Steve Todd
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Re: Why is this so hard?

For Apple it's not the money, it's the terms of the deal that they're haggling over.

For Bain, they are also short of the money that they are supposed to be raising via financiers.

I'm assuming that both of the above are quite solvable, but WD will be doing their best to block things so the deal may take a while to complete.

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iPhone 8: Apple has CPU cycles to burn

Steve Todd
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Re: Passing is temporary

@Charlie, not so much, no. The Core i7 in the mid-2017 13" MBP produces a single-threaded Geekbench score of 4590. The A11 comes back with a score of 4204. Less than a 10% advantage in single threaded applications isn't something users will notice.

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Bill Gates says he'd do CTRL-ALT-DEL with one key if given the chance to go back through time

Steve Todd
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Since <CTL><ALT><DEL> forced a reboot

It was a good thing that it wasn’t a single key that could be hit by mistake. There are plenty of examples of early microcomputers with single reset buttons on the keyboard, and their users would regail you with tails of work lost for this reason.

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Five ways Apple can fix the iPhone, but won't

Steve Todd
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Better DACs?

They have removed DACs completely from the equation. Your headphones are expected to provide their own DAC (be it via the Lightning port or Bluetooth)

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Sci-Fi titan Jerry Pournelle passes,
aged 84

Steve Todd
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Re: What about Gill the ARM ?

Erm, Gil the ARM was a Larry Niven character.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gil_Hamilton

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Chinese smartphone cable-maker chucks sueball at Apple

Steve Todd
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Stop

Re: The saddest part of this story.

If you were an exporter then you'd know that the fewer Yuan it takes to buy a Pound the better (your customers can either buy your product for less, or you charge them the same in their local currency and make a bigger profit). Importers like it the other way.

The Chinese government have basically pegged the Yuan to the US Dollar. All you're seeing is the poor performance of the Pound on the international currency markets.

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What code is running on Apple's Secure Enclave security chip? Now we have a decryption key...

Steve Todd
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Re: Well you cannot make this secure

"There is a thing called Focussed Ion Beam microscope"

You expect them to attach 30+ wires somewhere in the middle of a billion+ transistor chip running at hundreds of megahertz, without effecting timings or state? You also expect the metal layers in the Enclave area to make that easy (there are typically 6 plus layers in a modern chip)

I think you overestimate the capabilities of these folks, especially given that YouTube video targeted a PIC32, which is fabbed on a 250 or 130nm process, more than an order of magnitude larger than the latest silicon processes.

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Steve Todd
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Re: Well you cannot make this secure

"So essentially every moderately advanced attacker can just read out the "security enclave" and emulate it to try out all the PINs."

So how exactly do they do that? There's limited communication between the "security enclave" and the main CPU. It has its own processor and storage. Your hacker may be able to see the source, but in order to be able to brute force the system they need to be able to snapshot the full state of the enclave and restore it on failure. The hardware doesn't support that.

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Intel CEO Krzanich quits Trump's Manufacturing Council over response to Charlottesville rallies

Steve Todd
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I hope that was missing a /S tag.

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UK.gov: You can't have our drone test results because... er, security

Steve Todd
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Re: The study's authors could not find a way to launch a 4-kilogram drone against an aircraft...

The problem is in getting a drone up to the speeds which it is expected to impact an aircraft screen at. Don't forget that, in real life, the aircraft is travelling at 200+mph, to which you have to add the airspeed of the drone (somewhere around 50-60mph), so the combined impact velocity is going to be somewhere north of 250mph.

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Steve Todd
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Re: could not find a way to launch...

> Had they thought of standing in a field and flying it using its controller?

And flying an aircraft in the opposite direction at a couple of hundred miles per hour? Drones aren't capable of flying at the kinds of speeds that they test impacts at.

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Slower US F-35A purchases piles $27bn onto total fighter jet bill

Steve Todd
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Has no-one done the math?

If the US is only buying 60 per year then they are committed to buying the F35 for the next 30 years, at which point it's not going to be anything like leading edge.

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Intel axes 140 IoTers in California, Ireland

Steve Todd
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Re: hmmm...

I don't think Intel have anything as low tech as a 40nm plant left in production (or if they have, it's there to produce legacy parts they have to provide under contract). Everything they have seems to be either producing specialised parts (e.g. Fab 68 in China producing RAM chips), producing 22nm or better parts or being decommissioned/upgraded. They sell the old kit off when they shut a plant down, so they can't restart an older process with any degree of ease.

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Steve Todd
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Re: hmmm...

If they are spending more than US$721 million per quarter then yes, they are losing money. If they can't see revenues getting to the point that they ARE making money (and ideally where they are making a reasonable return) then they will close it.

Intel's problem is that they have an expensive fab process tuned to producing high margin standard CPUs, and IoT is all about low margin SoC chips that are customise-able and cheap. Take for example the ESP32. It's a twin core, 240MHz, 32 bit chip with built in WiFi and Bluetooth. It has 520K of RAM, 16MB of flash ROM and 34 GPIO ports that can be mapped to assorted on-board IO blocks (ADC, DAC, I2C, SPI etc). It's fabricated on a cheap 40nm process and can be bought for less than $5. Intel simply can't compete with this.

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Imagination: Apple relations still rotten but, hey, losses have shrunk

Steve Todd
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Re: It is all Apple's Fault

@Steve Davies - Its a good job that Apple don't sell any of their models for as much as $1000 then.

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China pollutes ocean with bloody big rocket

Steve Todd
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Re: Elsewhere reported flight aborted one hour after launch...

It depends on what was one hour after launch, the report or the abort. If the latter then you'd expect it to be comfortably in orbit. The former could have been an abort within minutes of launch, and the Chinese government only grudgingly admitting to the mistake somewhat later.

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Concorde without the cacophony: NASA thinks it's cracked quiet supersonic flight

Steve Todd
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It was however

unable to cope with moderately tight turns (hence the Paris Airshow breakup) and was vastly thirsty (not having stolen Concorde's secret to optimising fuel flow across the operating speed range, but they did "borrow" most of the rest of the design).

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Steve Todd
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Re: A luddite writes... @scatter

You think executives are the only people that fly, and there's no economic benefit to air travel? I think you'll find that most of the rest of the world disagrees with you.

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IoT coverage for 95% of UK by 2019? We can't even do 4G, Sigfox

Steve Todd
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Since IoT generally doesn't need much bandwidth

You can cover huge areas with low power ISM frequency networks like LoRa. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LPWAN

Rolling out to 95% of the population may not be as hard as El Reg thinks.

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Intel: Joule's burned, Edison switched off, and Galileo – Galileo is no more

Steve Todd
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Re: Hardly unexpected

@daniel - thank you for proving my point. The Pi is far from the only SBC, and even it is available with better than a Cortex A7, thus proving your assertion on performance limits wrong. The ODROID UX4 uses the A15 paired with A7s in big.LITTLE, but the A53 uses the newer ARMv8-A instruction set so is faster at a given clock speed.

Not having source for the GPU driver doesn't stop most IoT developers (no SoC that I'm aware of has open GPU drivers, and x86 systems with open GPU drivers normally significantly underperform the OEM BLOB). Not having source or correct details to make it talk to external devices through the likes of GPIO, SPI, I2C etc does.

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Steve Todd
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Re: Hardly unexpected

The Raspberry Pi 3 is currently using quad core 64 bit A53s, and is far from the only cheap SBC to use 64 bits. Yes, these machines are not as powerful as a full sized PC, but then they are hugely cheaper, capable of many tasks and I'd hardly describe them as plateauing.

Where Intel shot themselves in the foot with these IoT processors was in their lack of support and documentation available to mere mortals. If you want to do pretty much anything with a Pi then you'll find the details you need on the web somewhere. With Intel it's mostly guesswork as they won't tell anyone short of a large OEM anything, and that's with an NDA in place even.

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Report estimates cost of disruption to GPS in UK would be £1bn per day

Steve Todd
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Re: Fun with Glonass

@david - I think you need to check out your history there. GPS (formerly NAVSTAR) was developed by the US Department of Defense, and it was only after the shooting down of Korean Airlines flight 007 by the USSR when it drifted off course into its airspace that Ronald Reagan mandated that the system be made available for civilian use.

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Steve Todd
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"Of course the UK could just use the EU’s Galileo GPS system that went live in December.....oh wait, post-Brexit the UK will now have to negotiate, and pay for access to it"

The public service is free. There are extra services with improved accuracy and/or resiliency which require a subscription, but they shouldn't change in cost or availability because of Brexit.

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Samsung releases 49-inch desktop monitor with 32:9 aspect ratio

Steve Todd
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@Dan

Screen sizes are quoted as the diagonal measurement, corner to corner, not edge to edge. In the days of CRTs they were quoted as outside edge to outside edge (so non-visible parts of the screen) to make things even harder.

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Months late, unaudited: ZX Spectrum reboot firm files accounts

Steve Todd
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Re: What a complete waste of time that was. @MrRimmerSIR

So you MIGHT get it for £300, but chances are customs won't buy the $20 declared value and you'll be stung for import charges and VAT at a minimum. It's still an expensive solution in comparison to the Vega+

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Steve Todd
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Re: What a complete waste of time that was.

Erm, that (1) costs £400, and (2) isn't yet available. Any more bright ideas?

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Judge holds Uber's feet to the fire over alleged Waymo tech theft

Steve Todd
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Re: Uber faces massive punitive damages.

If your pension fund is involved in Venture Captial to any significant degree then you should sack them and move elsewhere. It's far too volatile an area for them to be involved with, and shouldn't be used by anyone or any company that can't afford to write off an investment completely and move on.

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PC, Ethernet and tablet computer pioneer 'Chuck' Thacker passes

Steve Todd
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Re: I first met him at Stanford ...

Probably because of the poster (Jake), who is known for his wild claims.

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Hyperloop One teases idea of 50-minute London-Edinburgh ride

Steve Todd
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Re: Total travel time? @Pete 2

The problem with your 1h15m flight is that (1) you first have to travel out to the airport, (2) you have to negotiate your way through checkin/security, (3) you and your fellow passengers all need to board while your luggage is placed in the hold. (4) your aircraft needs to push back from the stand, start its engine and taxy (slowly) to the runway, (5) fly the route, (6) land and taxy to the stand, (7) you need to walk from the aircraft to the baggage claim area. (8) you need to wait for your luggage to turn up, (9) you need to walk from the baggage area to public transport and (10) you need to travel in to your destination.

if you have any change from 3 hours when making that 1h15m flight then I'd be surprised. Trains let you load and unload your own baggage, have stations close to the centre of cities and don't require the same elaborate security. A 50 minute journey shouldn't take you much more than an hour.

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'Fat boy' flies: ISRO's heavy rocket fails to blow up

Steve Todd
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It still isn't a heavy lifter

8,000kg to LEO places it firmly in the Medium category.

Ariane 5 is also rather more powerful than the author thinks: 21,000kg to LEO and 10,700kg to GTO.

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The Big Blue Chopper video that IBM might want to keep quiet

Steve Todd
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Re: errr

@nuked have you even the slightest idea what it costs per hour to fly a helicopter, on top of the cost of buying it that is. You'd be able to afford the return train ticket out of just the cost of the jet fuel, and have change left over.

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India sets June 5 as the day it will join the heavy-lift rocket club

Steve Todd
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Re: Not really heavy is it?

Heavy is defined as 20,000 - 50,000 kg to LEO. Medium is 2,000 - 20,000 kg, Super Heavy is over 50,000 kg. So the Indian rocket is a Medium, as is the Soyuz. The Falcon 9 FT is a Heavy and the Falcon Heavy is actually a Super Heavy (at least according to the NASA classification system).

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Steve Todd
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Re: Geostationary vs. LEO

The Indian launcher is being used first for a geostationary satellite, but it can be used also for LEO launches. The comparison of mass-to-LEO is not unreasonable (some of that mass can then be used to boost to GEO).

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Steve Todd
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Re: I'm impressed that we have 64 and 70 ton low earth orbit payload capability coming.

You haven't seen the expected price tag on an SLS launch then? More than $2bn per launch (20 launches are expected to cost NASA $60bn). Even the Falcon Heavy is thought to cost around $160 million per launch.

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Apple asks FCC to let it run mm-wave tests - for backhaul?!

Steve Todd
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Your home microwave

Runs at a frequency much closer to WiFi. If you could use WiFi to nuke a burrito then yes.

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Intel's Optane in PCs is as good as it will get for years, says analyst

Steve Todd
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@Dave 126

To quote the article "the firm cites a Gamespot review to assert that a PC with Optane and a 1TB, 7,200 RPM spinning rust hard was four to eight times faster than a solid state disk at read-heavy tasks data."

Gamespot said no such thing. They made only limited comparisons with SATA SSDs, and you can pick up a 500GB SATA drive for not much more than the Optane + 1TB combo.

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Steve Todd
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Maybe I'm missing something

But that Gamespot review is mostly comparing against traditional HHDs, with only passing mention to SSDs, and when it does talk about them it makes speed comparisons with SATA units, not M.2.

Optane seems to be at best only a small improvement over SSD, and at worst a disappointment.

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Apple's zippy silicon leaves Android rivals choking on dust

Steve Todd
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There are two different kinds of ARM licence

The majority of companies that use an ARM processor take an off-the-shelf ARM design, combine it with components from ARM or 3rd parties to form their SoC and hand the results to a fab company (TSMC, Samsung etc) to build. A small number of companies (Apple, Qualcomm and nVidia for example) have Architecture licences, which allows them to come up with their own CPU designs that execute ARM code. The resulting designs can be faster and/or more power efficient than the stock ARM cores.

The silicon design company (PA RISC IIRC) was bought many years ago, well before the first of their internal ARM designs. The designers may be pre Apple, but their work has all been done on Apple's time.

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IBM. Sigh. Revenues. Sigh. Down. Sigh. For the 20th quarter in a row

Steve Todd
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Power8 slower than x86?

That very much depends on what kind of workload you throw at it. See https://www.hpcwire.com/2015/06/09/ibm-power8-outperforms-x86-on-stac-benchmarks/

The Power CPU has vastly more memory bandwidth, so it may be slower at headline FP numbers but it can chew its way through more data. It's also got much better fault tolerance and recovery. It isn't the no-brainier you seem to think over which you should chose.

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ZX Spectrum reboot project's Great Ormond Street charity cash questions

Steve Todd
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Re: Think this is bad? Just wait till someone brings out the QL version..

Surprisingly there are about 80. Not a great piece of hardware, but they did manage to attract a reasonable number of developers.

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Back to the future: Honda's new electric car can go an incredible 80 miles!

Steve Todd
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Re: One of the factors I'd be interested in

The batteries are actually highly recyclable. See http://www.greenprogress.com/environment_article.php?id=1762

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