CPU microcode still exists even if the blobs aren't included. You're just limited to the version that's included with the stepping of your CPU. I believe the management engine (ME) on the chipset is the same way. (On the server side, at least, the chipset won't allow the CPUs to boot without an ME blob.)
Just because your software doesn't include any blobs doesn't mean that there aren't any blobs on the hardware.
Why put a microscope online? How else are you going to do deep packet inspection?
The only real reason x86 hasn't competed with ARM so far in very-low-power is that no one has tried hard enough.
I wonder what VIA would say about that. it seemed like they had the atom-level market carved out before the atom appeared.
sounds familiar. I had an 80GB early intel SSD (INTEL SSDSA2MH080G1GC) in a macbook pro, which gave me the OSX blue screen equivalent while I was working on it one day without any warning. it wouldn't even boot. Disk utilities under OSX (run from another system, obviously) were unable to even fsck the filesystems, so I replaced the disk. (I had the foresight to make backups, so I didn't lose anything.)
I moved the failed SSD to another machine to take a look at the SMART parameters, which still showed a 96% lifetime left, although it did show read errors after a captive self-test. an email to intel tech support indicated that a secure delete might bring it back to life, and indeed it did. after the secure delete, the drive was reformatted, and I now use it as storage for a couple VMs, and so far so good, although I'm careful not to have anything critical on it.
so no, not graceful. sudden and catastrophic. I'm wondering what a subsequent failure will look like, now that I have smartmontools keeping an eye on it.
Itanium (IA-64) is/was Intel's 64-bit roadmap before AMD did the x86-64 hack. I'm not sure if this is a benefit or a curse. It arguably got 64bit to the masses, but it's a 64-bit hack of a 32-bit hack of a 16-bit hack to an 8-bit CPU...
(disclaimer -- I work for Intel, but the views expressed are my own.)
Intel has supported socket-connected FPGAs for years now. A few vendors (including xtremedata and nallatech) offer(ed) FSB-attached FPGAs. Pactron (with Altera FPGAs) and Xilinx are offering QPI-attached FPGAs on the Nehalem/Westmere -EX platform and have announced support for Sandy Bridge.
I work for Intel on these technologies.
Numeric stability is probably not all that important when you're guessing.