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Worms

Submission + - Openoffice proof of concept virus

razpones writes: "APCMAG.COM reports about "the first worm specifically targeting the open-source office package OpenOffice." "It runs on Windows, Mac and Linux computers, but anti-malware vendor Sophos admits it poses a low threat, especially as it's only a proof-of-concept that hasn't actually been discovered 'in the wild'. The OpenOffice worm uses the inbuilt StarBasic scripting language in the office suite to save scripts to disk in several other languages. The worm attempts to download and display an indecent JPEG image of a man wearing a bunny suit performing a sexual act in woodland." "The group responsible for writing the BadBunny malware don't seem to have much confidence in it spreading as they have sent it directly to our labs." Will Microsoft use this as a new argument against opensource software?"
Sci-Fi

Submission + - Favorite flamewar?

An anonymous reader writes: Favorite flamewar?

Kirk vs. Picard
Joel vs. Mike
Tom Baker vs. Chris Eccelston
FreeBSD vs. OpenBSD
Linux vs. Windows
KDE vs. GNOME
CowboyNeal vs. Polls
Emulation (Games)

Submission + - Worlds First PSP Emulator for Windows Released

YokimaSun writes: Over at PSP News the first PSP Emulator for Windows has been released. Potemkin (codenamed DaSH) is an experimental open source HLE PSP Emulator. It is created and released by ector who is one of the most impressive coders in emulation history. This release plays masses of commercial games and at a playable speed.
Spam

Utah Anti-Kids-Spam Registry "a Flop" 117

Eric Goldman writes "A couple of years ago Utah enacted a 'Child Protection Registry.' The idea was to allow parents to register kids' email addresses and then to require certain email senders to filter their lists against that database before sending their emails. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the Utah registry has been a 'financial flop.' Initially projected to generate $3-6 million in revenues for Utah, it has instead produced total revenues of less than $200,000. 80% of this has gone to Unspam, the for-profit registry operator; Utah's share of the registry's revenues has been a paltry $37,445. Worse, Utah has spent $100,000 (so far) to defend the private company from legal challenges by free-speech, advertising, and porn interests."
Intel

Submission + - P35 'Bearlake' Motherboard Sneak Peek

Spinnerbait writes: "HotHardware has pictures and specs on a new Asus motherboard based on a new Intel chipset that will be formally announced as the P35. This chipset is part of a larger family of future Intel motherboard chips that go by the codename 'Bearlake'. The P35 is manufactured on one of Intel's 65nm process nodes and is designed for upcoming Core 2 microprocessors that require a 1,333MHz front side bus frequency. Another major feature of the P35 is support for DDR3 memory, although it can support DDR2 in some configurations as well. The main advantage of DDR3 memory is that it will be able to scale to much higher frequencies with lower voltages and better signal integrity than DDR2."
Businesses

Submission + - Got the Time?

theodp writes: "Slate reports that there's bad news for the watch industry — most people these days carry a highly accurate and durable time piece, but it isn't a watch. So where does the Slashdot crowd turn to for the time?"
Books

Submission + - Inside the Machine

Paul S. R. Chisholm writes: "Inside the Machine: An Illustrated Introduction to Microprocessors and Computer Architecture, written by Ars Technica's Jon "Hannibal" Stokes, talks about how CPUs work, and how they've evolved and advanced in the past fifteen years. The result is detailed, very up-to-date (including descriptions of Intel's Core 2), generally clear, and covers a lot of fascinating material.

[EDITORS, PLEASE NOTE — Please do not publish my e-mail address!]

How on earth have CPUs advanced as fast as they have? How have we gone from 60 MHz Pentiums in 1993 to 3.73 GHz Xeons (with two cores) and 2.66 GHz Core 2 Extremes (with four!) today? Sure, Moore's Law and competition pushed the chip makers, but how did they implement all that extra performance? In Inside the Machine, Jon "Hannibal" Stokes provides a thorough, exhaustive, nearly exhausting look at what's at the heart of your computer. If Stoke's name sounds familiar, he's a founder and long-time contributor to Ars Technica. Anyone who liked his work there, his comprehensive articles and brightly colored diagrams, will probably enjoy this book a lot.

The first two chapters cover the basics of CPU operation and machine language. These are pretty good, though you'll probably need some assembler language experience to really understand everything in these chapters. Even without such experience, you'll pick up enough to get through the rest of the book.

The next two chapters get more advanced, covering pipelined and superscalar execution. CPUs don't execute one instruction at a time. Instead, they break instructions into smaller operations, and work on those smaller operations in parallel. These two chapters begin to tell how CPUs do that. (The book also discusses caching, another huge performance booster. For some reason, Stokes doesn't get to that until chapter 11.)

The rest of the book discusses specific CPUs. From Intel, we see the original Pentium, Pentium Pro, Pentium 4, Pentium M, Core, and Core 2. (Intel didn't release as much information about the Pentium II and III.) From the Apple/IBM/Motorola alliance, we learn about the 601 (the heart of Apple's first "Power Mac"), 603, 604, 750 (G3), 7400 (G4), and 970 (G5). In the middle of all that, there's also an excellent description of 64-bit computing, its advantages, and even its disadvantages.

Every buzzword you've ever heard about CPUs is covered: front end vs. back end, branch prediction, out-of-order execution, pipeline stalls, SIMD, direct-mapped vs. N-way set associative mapping. That sounds intimidating, but Stokes introduces the concepts one at a time, clearly and in detail. The next time an overclocking fanatic tries to tell you why his AMD CPU is so much better than your Intel CPU (or vice versa), you'll not only be able to follow the whole discussion, you'll be able to argue back.

Stokes turns all this into a (highly technical) history of CPU development. One chip's virtue is its successor's vice; one generation's shortcoming is another's opportunity.

This book reinforced something I already knew but don't often enough live by: Portability depends on architecture (for example, x86 vs. PowerPC), but high performance depends on microarchitecture (for example, Pentium M vs. Athlon 64 X2). Today's Core 2 chips have many high performance features missing from the 1993 original Pentiums. A good compiler like gcc can take advantage of those additional features. This is bad news if you're using a binary Linux distribution, compiled to a lowest common denominator. It's good news if you're building and installing Linux from source, with something like Linux From Scratch or Gentoo/Portage. It's also good news for just-in-time compilers (think Java, .NET, and Mono); they're compiling on the "target" machine, so they can generate code tailored for the machine's exact microarchitecture.

The full color diagrams were a big help in understanding Stokes's points. On the other hand, I'm not sure why the book was printed in hardcover. To make it look more like a textbook? Is that a good thing?

The text is packed with jargon, buzzwords, and TLAs (Three Letter Abbreviations). Most of that is unavoidable, but a glossary would have been nice. Each chapter builds on the previous ones, so most readers will want to read all the chapters in order, paying close attention the whole time. Even so, this book had a lot more forward references ("I'll define that shortly" or "We'll get to that later") than most technical books.

Don't expect much non-technical discussion. Exceptions: There is a (very good) description of the Pentium 4's obsession with higher and higher clock speeds, including marketing pressures, and the resulting performance increases and drawbacks. The occasional "Historical Context" sections are also quite nice. But you'll see nothing on Apple's decision to move from PowerPC to Core, or the competitive battle between AMD and Intel. For that matter, you'll see almost nothing at all about AMD or its products.

Personally, I think Stokes missed an important opportunity to talk in depth about multiprocessing. He spends only four pages on the subject, and that only as part the description of the Core Duo. (You'd think there was never a multi-core G5.) There's only a couple of paragraphs on the difference between multiple CPUs and multiple CPU cores. ("Dual dual-cores" and the AMD 4x4, anyone?) He declines to discuss how caches interact with multiple CPUs or multiple cores. That's unfortunate, because anyone doing multi-threaded software development really needs to understand cache issues, at just about exactly the level this book covers. But you'll find nothing here about cache coherency, or about what out-of-order execution results might be visible only to multi-threaded software. Well, he spent three years of his life writing this; if I want a say in what gets said, I should write my own darned book.

Jon Stokes had an incredibly ambitious goal: to write an accessible book that covers much of the same ground as Hennessy and Patterson's Computer Architecture and Computer Organization and Design. I don't think he achieved that, but he came pretty close.

You can visit the book's home page or the author's blog.

Paul S. R. Chisholm has been developing software for 25 years. He's worked at AT&T Bell Laboratories, Ascend Communications / Lucent Technologies, Cisco Systems, and some small startups you've never heard of. His latest article, "'Pure Virtual Function Called': An Explanation," appeared in The C++ Source. He lives and works in New Jersey."

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