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Comment: Re:Patent on this new feature (Score 2) 50

by TheRaven64 (#47791453) Attached to: MIPS Tempts Hackers With Raspbery Pi-like Dev Board
No idea. I don't know if the instructions for computing PC-relative addresses in an ISA without an architectural PC are patentable. They also exist in RISC V (not sure which came first), so if they do then it's going to be a problem for Kriste et al. Nothing else in there is especially novel: like ARMv8, it's a nicely designed compilation target, but it doesn't do anything that's especially exciting.

I didn't look at the floating point stuff in much detail, so there may be something there, although the biggest changes in recent versions of the MIPS specs have been that they're more closely aligned with the IEEE floating point standards, so it's hard to imagine anything there.

The biggest difference between MIPS64r6 and ARMv8 is that the MIPS spec explicitly reserves some of the opcode space for vendor-specific extensions (we use this space, although our core predates the current spec - it's largely codifying existing opcode use). This allows, for example, Cavium to add custom instructions that are useful for network switches but not very useful for other things. ARMv8, in contrast, expects that any non-standard extensions are in the form of accelerator cores with a completely different ISA. This means that any code compiled for one ARMv8 core should run on any ARMv8 implementation, which is a big advantage. With MIPS, anything compiled for the core ISA should run everywhere, but people using custom variants (e.g. Cisco and Juniper, who use the Cavium parts in some of their products) will ship code that won't run on another vendors' chips.

Historically, this has been a problem for the MIPS ecosystem because each MIPS vendor has forked GCC and GNU binutils, hacked it up to support their extensions, but done so in a way that makes it impossible to merge the code upstream (because they've broken every other MIPS chip in the process) and left their customers with an ageing toolchain to deal with. I've been working with the Imagination guys to try to make sure that the code in LLVM is arranged in such a way that it's relatively easy to add vendor-specific extensions without breaking everything else.

Imagination doesn't currently have any 64-bit cores to license, but I expect that they will quite soon...

Comment: Re:no price? (Score 3, Informative) 50

by TheRaven64 (#47790969) Attached to: MIPS Tempts Hackers With Raspbery Pi-like Dev Board

Wouldn't it be just a matter of re-compiling your code though?

Assuming that your code doesn't do anything that is vaguely MIPS specific. If it is, then there is little benefit in using MIPS32r2 now - ARMv7 is likely to be closer than MIPS32r2 to MIPS32r6 in terms of compatibility with C (or higher-level language) source code compatibility.

I love MIPS and, that is the case in large part, because of its current instruction set. It seems like a bad idea to mess with the current instruction set and break backward compatibility. Why did they decide to do that?

Basically, because the MIPS ISA sucks as a compiler target. Delay slots are annoying and provide little benefit with modern microarchitectures. The only way to do PC-relative addressing is an ugly hack in the ABI, requiring that every call uses jalr with $t9 in the call, which means that you can't use bal for short calls. The lwl / lwr instructions for unaligned loads are just horrible and introduce nasty pipeline dependencies. The branch likely instructions are almost always misused, but as they're the only way of doing a branch without a delay slot there's often no alternative.

Comment: Re:no price? (Score 3, Informative) 50

by TheRaven64 (#47790579) Attached to: MIPS Tempts Hackers With Raspbery Pi-like Dev Board
There's no price yet because they're giving away the first production run to people who are going to do interesting things with them. Unfortunately, this is a really bad time to do anything MIPS related (and I say this as someone who hacks on a MIPS IV compatible softcore and the LLVM MIPS back end). Imagination has just released the MIPS64r6 and MIPS32r6 specs. These are the biggest revisions to the MIPS ISA since MIPS III, which introduced 64-bit support. They've removed a load of legacy crap like the lwr and lwl instructions and the branch-likely instruction family and added things like compact (no delay slot) branch instructions, the requirement that hardware supports unaligned loads and stores (or, at least, that the OS traps and emulates them), and added much better support for PC-relative addressing. The result is a nice ISA, which is not backwards compatible with MIPS32r2 or MIPS64r2, the ISA that these boards use. Any investment in software for MIPS now is going to be wasted when products with the new ISA come out.

Comment: Re:*drool* (Score 1) 153

by TheRaven64 (#47790089) Attached to: Intel's Haswell-E Desktop CPU Debuts With Eight Cores, DDR4 Memory
For building big C++ projects, as long as the disk (yay SSDs!) can keep up, you can throw as many cores as you can get at the compile step and get a speedup, then sit dependent on single-thread performance for the linking. I got a huge speedup going from a Core 2 Duo to a Sandy Bridge quad i7, then another noticeable speedup going to a Haswell i7 in my laptop. The laptop is now sufficiently fast that I do a lot more locally - previously I'd mostly work on a remote server with 32 cores, 256GB of RAM (and a 3TB mirrored ZFS array with a 512GB SSD for ZIL and L2ARC), but now the laptop is only about a factor of 2 slower in terms of build times, so for developing individual components (e.g. LLVM+Clang) I'll use the laptop and only build the complete system on the server.

Comment: Re:A basic land line (Score 3, Informative) 538

by TheRaven64 (#47790061) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What Old Technology Can't You Give Up?
There are several nice features of a landline, but they can't (in the UK, at least) compete on price. The line rental alone for a landline costs more than I spend on calls on my mobile (pre-pay, no contract, no monthly fees). Calls from my mobile are 3p/minute, a landline is £16/month. I'd need to spend almost 9 hours on the phone each month before I spent as much on my mobile as a landline would cost me before I even made any calls. And then, for the kicker, the calls from the landline cost 9p/min (+15p setup) for calls to other landlines or 12p/min (+15p setup) for calls to mobiles. There's no possible justification for calls from the landline costing 3-4 times as much as calls from the mobile on top of the extortionate line rental. If I wanted to pay BT even more, for another £3 I could get free evening and weekend calls to landlines, but calls to mobiles would still be the same price. For £7.50 on top of the line rental, I'd get free calls to landlines, and calls to mobiles would only be twice the cost of my mobile. Almost everyone I call has a mobile though, so in exchange for paying BT an amount equivalent to about 12 hours of calls on my mobile per month, I could then pay double per minute what I pay for calls on my mobile with no line rental.

Comment: Re:Simply (Score 1) 541

by SuiteSisterMary (#47786989) Attached to: Why Women Have No Time For Wikipedia

Absolutely. There are all sorts of reasons why a person lands in jail. Some are in their control, some aren't.

But, to tie this back to the original poster and to the various responses, is it entirely beyond the pale to even entertain the notion that, possibly, due to some combination of nature and nurture, of social upbringing, evolutionary selection, and everything else, that maybe, just maybe, women and men are different?

And that, for some things, those differences may prove to be helpful or harmful? Isn't it better to have the discussion, to figure out what the differences are, and in some cases, make allowances or adjustments for them?

Premise: Women in western society, for a variety of factors both social and biological, tend to be more collaborative than adversarial. Assertion: Wikipedia editing is an adversarial process, in the same way the US legal system is adversarial: people argue their positions with the intent that the best argument wins. Implication of assertion: many women, who prefer collaboration to adversarial systems, will avoid Wikipedia.

To me, that is in no way sexist, demeaning, or anything else negative. But many people, whom I would term 'overly PC,' would attack me for even putting that little paragraph together.

Comment: Re:Science is a religion to some (Score 1) 206

by SuiteSisterMary (#47786947) Attached to: Canada Tops List of Most Science-Literate Countries

Faith is defined as 'belief without evidence.' In other words, and *at best*, one makes a knowledge claim without any supporting fact or evidence whatsoever.

The problem is, 'belief without evidence' rapidly tends to turn into 'belief *despite* evidence.' In other words, the same knowledge claim is often made *despite* clear and contradictory evidence. That's a hell of a way to run a railroad.

Comment: Re:You don't need to archive video. (Score 2) 312

by SuiteSisterMary (#47783765) Attached to: Should police have cameras recording their work at all times?

You really seem to have an unrealistic expectation of how departments and the boards that oversee them will be allowed to use cameras. You also seem to have an unrealistic expectation that a prosecutor, judge, and jury will not press charges or convict someone simply because an officer did not have a camera present.

I think there needs to be a sea change in how the system works, yes. I doubt there will be.

The current LEO system is based on Victorian ideals about how some people are inherently noble and honest, and some aren't. This isn't true. Either a) hiring and training standards need to change, or b) technology needs to be used to smooth out the rough edges.

Comment: Re:Well... (Score 1) 168

It has significantly reduced my ability to customize the user interface of Firefox to suit my needs.

Again, hand waving without specifics. The most noticeable change for me was that they button to customise the UI is now on the toolbar by default, rather than hidden away somewhere. What can you no longer customise that you could previously?

Comment: Re: Well... (Score 1) 168

The problem is that it's a dumbed-down UI design

I really don't understand this complaint. The UI changes were relatively small, and one of the biggest ones was making the 'customize UI' button more prominent in the new versions.

I switched to Firefox on Android recently because Chrome for Android has the same handicapped cookie management policy as the older Android Browser, but Firefox lets me run the self-destructing cookies plugin, which does exactly what I've wished for the last 15 years all browsers would do by default.

"Now here's something you're really going to like!" -- Rocket J. Squirrel

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