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redhawk
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Re: Are ARM based computers the future?

Sat Mar 01, 2014 5:17 pm

Didn't Apple move from PowerPC to x86, not because that was better, but because it was cheaper - because x86 was shipping in larger numbers.
http://news.cnet.com/8301-13924_3-10264290-64.html no idea if there's any truth in the article though. :)

I thought IBM was dropped because their processors had overheating issues or performance wise they couldn't match Intel's current offering.

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Re: Are ARM based computers the future?

Sat Mar 01, 2014 5:33 pm

Wait a minute,

If I remember correctly the original Mac used a Motorola 68000. That gave it an edge over the stupid old 16 bit Intel 8086 and the brain damaged and still 16 bit 286.

It was natural that Apple would move to PowerPC from their supplier. Motorola.

For whatever reason that had no future so Apple had no place to go but Intel. Which of course was 32 bit by then.

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Re: Are ARM based computers the future?

Sat Mar 01, 2014 5:35 pm

PowerPC? You know, the processor used in the Wii, the WiiU , the Xbox360, and the base architecture in the Cell processor used in the PS3?

That PowerPC?

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Powerpc#64-bit_PowerPC)
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Re: Are ARM based computers the future?

Sat Mar 01, 2014 6:04 pm

Jamesh,

Yes, yes. That PowerPC.

A drop in the ocean of the global micro-processor market.

I have never used a Wii or XBox but I see no reason why whatever they do needs to be PowerPC.

PS3 is a bit different. There we are talking Cell processor. Which is not PPC anyway.

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Re: Are ARM based computers the future?

Sat Mar 01, 2014 6:05 pm

RISC was invented or conceived my might be a better description by John Cocke of IBM back in the 1970's. But IBM management did not see the light and exploit the invention, so others prospered by using them i.e. Sun microsystems, HP Pa etc.

IBM uses PowerPC processors in its UNIX line of processors running AIX.
See http://www-03.ibm.com/systems/uk/power/software/aix/ You can buy a P series machine to run AIX.

IBM's Ted Codd invented Relational Database, but again IBM management did not see the light and people like Oracle got a head start. IBM's DB2 being late to the party. Things like MySQL came along later

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Re: Are ARM based computers the future?

Sat Mar 01, 2014 6:30 pm

Heater wrote:Jamesh,

Yes, yes. That PowerPC.

A drop in the ocean of the global micro-processor market.
How big is the ocean if 285 million* units is a drop?


*The combined sales of the Game Cube, Wii, Wii U, PS3 and XBOX360.

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Re: Are ARM based computers the future?

Sat Mar 01, 2014 6:40 pm

How big is the ocean if 285 million* units is a drop?
Pretty big. ARM are celebrating having shipped 50 billion ARMs right now. Ten billion last year alone.

ARM based computing machines are not the future, they're the now. I can almost guarantee you are within shouting distance of a couple of dozen ARMs. They may not currently be in your desktop box nor even your laptop but there is a good chance they will be soon. ARMv8 chips are really quite fast and still power parsimonious; stick 32 in a box and get a considerably faster machine for the same power usage. Complaining that a single ARM core isn't as fast as a single x86 core is pointless unless some bizarre problem requires you to only have one core. ARM beats x86 on mips/watt and mips/$ so just use lots.

The big obstacle is the software world - writing software that makes good use of many processors is quite hard and it's been pretty much ignored by mainstream software as long as individual cpus got faster and could support the bloated gibberish being produced. I suspect it was a net loss that the Transputer lost out to the x86. We could have had kilo-scale desktop machines by now.
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Re: Are ARM based computers the future?

Sat Mar 01, 2014 8:08 pm

timrowledge wrote:
How big is the ocean if 285 million* units is a drop?
Pretty big. ARM are celebrating having shipped 50 billion ARMs right now. Ten billion last year alone.

ARM based computing machines are not the future, they're the now. I can almost guarantee you are within shouting distance of a couple of dozen ARMs. They may not currently be in your desktop box nor even your laptop but there is a good chance they will be soon. ARMv8 chips are really quite fast and still power parsimonious; stick 32 in a box and get a considerably faster machine for the same power usage. Complaining that a single ARM core isn't as fast as a single x86 core is pointless unless some bizarre problem requires you to only have one core. ARM beats x86 on mips/watt and mips/$ so just use lots.

The big obstacle is the software world - writing software that makes good use of many processors is quite hard and it's been pretty much ignored by mainstream software as long as individual cpus got faster and could support the bloated gibberish being produced. I suspect it was a net loss that the Transputer lost out to the x86. We could have had kilo-scale desktop machines by now.
And of course that figure dwarves desktops sales because ARM are in hat loads of embedded systems. The market for computers is massive, but mostly you don't realise the are there.
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Re: Are ARM based computers the future?

Sat Mar 01, 2014 8:16 pm

I'm going to take apart my (landlord's) washing machine.

I'd be very surprised if it didn't contain a microcontroller with an ARM core inside.
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Re: Are ARM based computers the future?

Sat Mar 01, 2014 8:39 pm

Just a quick count of ARM chips in this room (that I know about)...

Mobile phones: 2
Kindle: 1
Raspis: 3
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Re: Are ARM based computers the future?

Sat Mar 01, 2014 10:34 pm

Heater wrote:
DrDominodog51

The point is do you see a PowerPC today? I think not.
True. But then I never did. My point was "Did you ever see a PowerPC?"

Apart from a few Mac users and a couple of embedded systems I have worked on nobody knows what a PowerPC is.

In a conversation about ARM and x86 the PowerPC does not even show up on the radar.

In terms of the microprocessor economy the PowerPC does not exist.

Aside: The last time I visited IBM, a year or so ago, they were pushing a PowerPC chip. Multiple cores, on chip encryption engine, on chip XML parsing engine. Great, when can I buy one? Or a dev board?. Never did hear back from them about that.
I am counting Power with PowerPC. Better technology replaces bad technology. That's all I was trying to say. x86 will be replaced by something. I hope it's ARM.

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Re: Are ARM based computers the future?

Sun Oct 26, 2014 10:57 am

To an extent, I can see ARM taking a hold of the mobile and thin client, and emerging markets in areas where electricity is at a premium. But for those trying to actually do some raw computing tasks I don't see the ARM being able to keep up for the time being.

A place I can see an ARM device being useful would be in a student's school bag. When I was in college I would have loved to have had an ARM based laptop that could go the entire day of classes on a single battery charge. Granted I would have been doing a lot less gaming, but I would have still had more use for it.

The big thing I think ARM needs is better hardware support. The chips I am most impressed with so far would be the Tegra chips that Nvidia is releasing. To bad I've only ever seen them in windows RT, and Android devices. If there was a way to get them usable in a full on Linux environment I'd be more than happy. But that is the only real complaint I have had really. the really Awe inspiring chips are being locked into proprietary setups.

However more to the point here. ARM based computers are going to be about like Apple's old use of the PowerPC architecture. Many of the masses are going to get one (If it were a desktop) then find that they can't install what they need/want to do their work, return it and get an intel/AMD/ X86 capable system. Here in the states there are a lot of people that really go nuts with the TAX season, some even getting new computers just for it. So it would take programs like Turbotax being offered with an ARM version (highly unlikely on linux anyway) for ARM to really take off in the desktop market. Though Mobile, laptops (Chromebooks are a reasonable example even if you don't like google's practices), Video gaming (Nintendo uses ARM in their DS line.) and tertiary level computers I can see it really taking off.

(Primary: desktops/desktop replacement laptops, Secondary: typical laptops, tertiary: web browsing/goofing around devices.)

Though on the note of Video gaming, ARM I do not see hitting home consoles with any real fanfare. I mean look at the Ouya and the Madcatz Mojo. Those kinda just showed up but really didn't get any traction. It will only be in the mobile gaming devices from Nintendo (and maybe Sony if they ever get it right) that will be ARM's strongest contenders.

The final big problem I see with ARM is the rapidly evolving ecosystem, especially in the Android side of things. It's worse than the Wintel world. at least with a PC as old as a P4 you can still run the newest OS and maybe some of the programs and games as long as the RAM and graphics card is there. But you come over to the Android side and you buy a device, it's supported for maybe a year and then there are no more updates. This is especially bad for the Phone market on a security standpoint. That heartbleed bug thing was a major flub and the cell phone manufacturers used it to push the latest and greatest devices instead of sending out a version update to fix the problem. Their point is "Where's the money in fixing a problem on an old device when we can sell the new device with the new software already installed?" On the tablet front it's basically the same thing. It also doesn't help that most of those devices that get left in the proverbial dust end up that way because of the bootloaders on them being locked to whatever OS is on them. All those devices going to waste all because they have outdated programming and hardware. and they expect us to recycle them so that they can reuse the materials to create and sell you next best thing.

I didn't bring up smartwatches as I see that as more of a joke. Until they make a one standalone and capable of sending and receiving calls/texts, I will just look and laugh at them.

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Re: Are ARM based computers the future?

Sun Oct 26, 2014 7:22 pm

timrowledge wrote:ARM based computing machines are not the future, they're the now. I can almost guarantee you are within shouting distance of a couple of dozen ARMs. They may not currently be in your desktop box nor even your laptop but there is a good chance they will be soon
Yep they're already everywhere, taken over by stealth !

ARM based laptops (chromebooks) are here, but not a match for x86 in performance.
Microsoft did essentially port windows to ARM (ill fated too locked down windowsRT)

As for powerPC last time we saw that was maybe the Xbox360/PS3 but both have now moved to x86(AMD) for PS4/XBox one
Deeluna wrote:I didn't bring up smartwatches as I see that as more of a joke. Until they make a one standalone and capable of sending and receiving calls/texts, I will just look and laugh at them.
You can laugh like a luddite ;) - but I've had lots of great usage out of my smartwatch - too big on the wrist for fashion, but they'll get smaller in time
- I can actually make and receive calls from it - though rarely - its more useful to see the title of a text/email/whos calling - quicker than getting phone out your pocket, and more discreet in a meeting for example.
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Re: Are ARM based computers the future?

Mon Oct 27, 2014 12:04 am

Heater wrote: If I remember correctly the original Mac used a Motorola 68000.
Yes, they did, and Apple was kind of deceptive in the way they talked about it. The make a big fuss about how a Mac had an 8MHz processor and the IBM PC had only a 4.77MHz processor.

Sounds like a big jump doesn't it?

What Apple *didn't* say very much about was that there was no discrete screen handling circuit. They did cycle stealing on the CPU for screen refeshes...taking 3 of every 8 cycles, which left the CPU running at an effective 5MHz.

When you get right down to it, the original Mac ran at almost the same speed as the *and* it was using a GUI.

Where the 68000 (and successors 68010 and 68020) really shined over and above x86 was that they had a flat address space.

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Re: Are ARM based computers the future?

Mon Oct 27, 2014 2:44 am

Heater wrote:Yes, yes. That PowerPC.

A drop in the ocean of the global micro-processor market.
A lot of network hardware uses QorIQ CPUs, which are multi-core PPCs
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Re: Are ARM based computers the future?

Fri Nov 07, 2014 9:24 pm

My point on smart watches was they do not stand alone, they require a phone to get the rest of the functions from what I guess is a bluetooth connection. So why not just miniatureize the phone into the watch size? That I wound buy.

Also on the ppc talk, the Nintendo wii and the wii U use PPC processors.

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Re: Are ARM based computers the future?

Fri Nov 07, 2014 9:31 pm

NO!

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Re: Are ARM based computers the future?

Fri Nov 07, 2014 9:35 pm

The company I've just started working for is opening a new office and we are installing a rack. What we want is a high powered rack that needs no air con and is quiet so it doesn't take up a room by itself. That is going to be the market for Big ARM when the pure CPU power improves enough to make it practicable. It's not quite there yet.
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Re: Are ARM based computers the future?

Fri Nov 07, 2014 11:46 pm

jamesh wrote:The company I've just started working for is opening a new office and we are installing a rack. What we want is a high powered rack that needs no air con and is quiet so it doesn't take up a room by itself. That is going to be the market for Big ARM when the pure CPU power improves enough to make it practicable. It's not quite there yet.
Big Iron replaced by Big ARM? We can but hope.

The energy per instruction for an ARMv8 server is significantly below x86 or x64 for example - eventually thermodynamics will translate into a measureable cost differential.
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Re: Are ARM based computers the future?

Sat Nov 08, 2014 12:54 am

But still, Intel know how to make CPUs and eventually he will be even dominant player among mobile CPUs. Even right now all Windows 8 (non RT) tablets are based on Bay Trail. And the Core-M is yet another strong competitor among low TDP designs.

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Re: Are ARM based computers the future?

Sat Nov 08, 2014 1:38 am

jamesh wrote:The company I've just started working for is opening a new office and we are installing a rack. What we want is a high powered rack that needs no air con and is quiet so it doesn't take up a room by itself.
Of course wanting something doesn't mean you will get it.

Seriously there is a tradeoff between energy per instruction and instruction rate. I suspect if/when arm manages to make cores that are as fast as intel they will also be as power hungry as intel.

One possible soloution is lots of cores which are individually weak but the trouble is it's very hard to write software to take full advantage of them outside a few niche tasks.

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Re: Are ARM based computers the future?

Sat Nov 08, 2014 9:22 am

riklaunim wrote:But still, Intel know how to make CPUs and eventually he will be even dominant player among mobile CPUs. Even right now all Windows 8 (non RT) tablets are based on Bay Trail. And the Core-M is yet another strong competitor among low TDP designs.
I don't think its possible for x86 instructions to ever be as power efficient as Armv8 - see jdb's post above. So Intel can probably never catch up in the power stakes. They do make fast CPU's however, but ARMs are getting faster, and its possible to have a large multicore device now, that is enough for a lot of server tasks. Point being, while Intel can keep making faster and faster devices, is there a real need in many servers for really really fast devices, or can you get away with slower but much more power efficient ones? I don;t see ARM taking over server space, but I do see them making inroads where the ultimate performance is unnecessary.
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Re: Are ARM based computers the future?

Sat Nov 08, 2014 9:34 am

plugwash wrote: One possible soloution is lots of cores which are individually weak but the trouble is it's very hard to write software to take full advantage of them outside a few niche tasks.
That stuff is usually done in the microcode so that the end user sees a single engine (and therefore doesn't need funky software to run their stuff) as the context switching is done in the tightly coupled processor array. IBM have been doing that in mainframes for many years since their move from big fat water cooled TCMs to air-cooled CMOS, it's a long time since they had a single big fat engine. (The CMOS chips are now water cooled again, but that's due to the massive amount of heat as the silicon gets driven faster.)

https://www-03.ibm.com/ibm/history/exhi ... V2137.html says the TCM could generate 300W of waste heat.
http://www.computerworld.com/article/25 ... frame.html
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Re: Are ARM based computers the future?

Sat Nov 08, 2014 10:07 am

jdb wrote:The energy per instruction for an ARMv8 server is significantly below x86 or x64 for example.
Why?
People keep telling me this, but while I've no reason to disbelieve it, I struggle to understand the reason.

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Re: Are ARM based computers the future?

Sat Nov 08, 2014 10:23 am

Burngate wrote:Why?
People keep telling me this, but while I've no reason to disbelieve it, I struggle to understand the reason.
If you have a better instruction set where you can write more compact code to do an identical high-level function, then maybe the energy for that functional block of code may be reduced. But for any one instruction like load register (LDR) the cost can't be much different.
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