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Comment Re:What we programmer needs ... (Score 2) 51

The ironic part is that an X86 instruction hasn't been mapped to dedicated hardware for decades. It just signals a series of micro-ops to perform the calculation.

That started back when we were still doing most of our applications in assembly... and people were begging Intel for the most arbitrary of operations in-silicon.

Then of course when we switched to compilers only about 10% of those operations were used 90% of the time... which is why ARM got so efficient and cheap... because they built their committee around that Turing-complete small set of instructions that compilers would most likely use... rather than Intel's obfuscation to make assembly programmers not want to light themselves up in a gas fire.

So I guess... sort of a bad example?

Comment Re:What we programmer needs ... (Score 1) 51

Actually it is a bit bigger of a problem than that.

There actually is a form of assembly language for GPUs. NVIDIA has PTX... I don't know what ATi/AMD's is called but I saw some of it in passing.

The actual problem from my perspective is that the assembly language is modified and optimized by the drivers before it reaches the chip. The assembly-style PTX code you send to the drivers does not relate to the machine code which the GPU executes. That kind-of defeats the purpose of the assembly language.

That seems to be one of the reasons why you see people like John Carmack who do unique things always complain about boxing GPU drivers... and why it is so difficult to virtualize a GPU. Maybe that will be solved starting with GK110? We will have to find out exactly what makes NVIDIA's latest part so easy to run through a VM to figure that out unfortunately. Hopefully it means the end of ridiculously complicated drivers.

Comment Re:Ti (Score 3, Informative) 51

Samsung is a big developer of processors and one of the world's few FABs actually. ((I actually forgot to mention Qualcomm as an absentee for some reason -- they're a big no-show too.)) Though Apple, I agree, is little love lost. They design chips... but barely; they would not really contribute much to this arrangement; and if they sink by excluding themselves then it will only be them to be hurt in that deal.

Submission + - TSMC to spend $10B building 450mm wafer factory (

An anonymous reader writes: With demand for processors growing and costs rising, using larger wafers for manufacturing is highly desirable, but a very expensive transition to make. TSMC just announced it has received approval from the Taiwan government to build a 450mm wafer factory, with the total cost of the project expected to be between $8-10 billion.

The move to larger wafers isn’t without its risks, though. Building new facilities to handle production is the easy part. The industry as a whole has to overcome some major technical hurdles before 450mm becomes a viable replacement for the tried and tested 300mm process. TSMC’s chairman Morris Chang has stated the next five years will be filled with technical challenges, suggesting 450mm wafers may not be viable until at least 2017.


Submission + - HSA Foundation founded by AMD, ARM, Ti, Imagination, and MediaTek (

Phopojijo writes: "To wrap up his “The Programmers Guide to a Universe of Possibility” keynote during the 2012 AMD Fusion Developer’s Summit, Phil Rogers of AMD announced the establishment of the HSA Foundation. The foundation has been instituted to create and maintain open standards to ease programming for a wide variety of processing resources including discrete and integrated GPUs. Founding members include ARM, Texas Instruments, Imagination, MediaTek, Texas Instruments, as well as AMD. Parallels can be drawn between this and AMD’s “virtual gorilla” initiative back from the late 1990’s."

Submission + - Mistreated Foxconn Brazil Workers Threaten Strike (

An anonymous reader writes: More bad news comes from Apple's iDevice manufacturing partner Foxconn that is sure to ruffle the feathers of Apple fans. From the story:

Factory workers at a Foxconn plant in Jundiaí, Brazil are complaining of overcrowded buses, poor food and a lack of water and have threatened to strike unless the issues are resolved by May 3. According to a report by Brazil's Tech Guru (Google Translation), over 2,500 Foxconn employees have complained about conditions at the factory. Workers reportedly met last Monday to raise the concerns and have given the company 10 days to address them.


Submission + - The Decay of the Atom Processor (

Phopojijo writes: "It is easy to pass judgment on the netbook form factor but the problem was always its processing ability — the form factor just inherited the blame by association. Low-voltage adaptations of mainstream architectures will soon collide against ARM and leave low-power x86 architectures with no legitimate room to exist: “Intel is likely to continue on with Atom in computers, but only because it will be easy to offer the fruits of its smartphone endeavors in desktop and laptop PCs. There’s no particular reason for Intel to kill it but – in regards to laptops and desktops – there’s no reason for Intel to make it better.”"

Submission + - AMD Radeon HD 7870 and 7850 Pitcairn GPUs Tested

Vigile writes: AMD continues to push forward with the new 28nm process GPUs and completes the 7000-series family with the Pitcairn-based Radeon HD 7870 GHz Edition and HD 7850 cards. The HD 7870 has 1280 stream processors while the HD 7850 has 1024 SPs, both cards have 256-bit memory buses that run at 1200 MHz. As the name implies, the HD 7870 runs at 1000 MHz and is priced at $350 squaring up perfectly with the GTX 570 from NVIDIA and is able to outperform it while using 80 fewer watts of power. The HD 7850 will sell for $250 and simply blows past the GTX 560 Ti again using 50 fewer watts in the process. There are full reviews available at PC Perspective, Tech Report, HardOCP and HotHardware, but it looks like AMD might have a graphics card worth upgrading to.
Data Storage

Submission + - NAND Flash Memory - A Future Not So Bleak After All (

Vigile writes: "A recent story that foretold the death of the solid state drive market by 2024 has been making the rounds and the hardware community has been discussing its ramifications. The basic claim was latency increases and error rates would cause its demise but an editorial over at PC Perspective counters that the researchers are ignoring simple improvements in SSD design including write combining, wear leveling, data compression and even bit drift compensation. Latency increases can even be countered by the increased parallelism of additional dies though the paper in question artificially creates a fixed die count for its research. While there are still hurdles for SSDs going forward there have always been those that claim in the end is near — just ask Moore's Law."

Submission + - AMD Radeon HD 7950 Bests NVIDIA GTX 580 (

Vigile writes: "Last month AMD released the world's fastest single GPU in the form of the Radeon HD 7970 and now they have another product based on the same GPU technology. The new HD 7950 is based on the Tahiti GPU but has 1,792 stream processors rather than the 2,048 of its larger brother but still maintains the absolutely massive 3GB frame buffer. Performance testing done over at PC Perspective shows that the deltas between the two cards range from 15-20% depending on the game though more importantly the new HD 7950 stays ahead of NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 580 while having a $50 lower MSRP. With features like triple display outputs, lower power consumption than the competition thanks to the new 28nm process and a lot of overclocking headroom, the $449 Radeon HD 7950 could be a great option for high-end gamers if they stay in stock."

Submission + - Does Intel's Ultrabook Initiative Hurt Consumers? (

Vigile writes: "Nothing was more obvious from this year's CES than Intel's desire to push the Ultrabook platform. We saw announcements from Lenovo, HP, ASUS, Dell and many others all touting the benefits of the thin and light platform, some focused on style and some focused on features. An editorial over at PC Perspective posits that the Ultrabook platform, being pushed heavily by Intel's marketing dollars, may not be the best thing for consumers. The author points to current generation products that lack performance compared to larger notebooks, have fewer expansion ports for consumers that use a laptop as their only computer and the somewhat flimsy construction of Ultrabooks that actually hit Intel's targeted price points."
United States

Submission + - Pentagon drafts kids to build drones and robots ( 1

MrSeb writes: "In a world where warfare is fast becoming fielded by remote controlled and autonomous robots, innovation is the key to victory. The most technologically advanced superpower can see more, plan better, and attack from farther away than its inferior adversaries. What better to revolutionize the drone and robotics industry but the brilliant minds of our children? That’s what DARPA and the Defense Department’s research and development arm, thinks too. The Manufacturing Experimentation and Outreach initiative, part of the Adaptive Vehicle Make project, is slated to reach a thousand schools in and out of the country, roping in the brightest minds to develop robotics and advance technology in new and interesting ways. Funded by the Department of Defense, the program comes with a steep cost: The DoD wants unlimited rights to everything the students build. It sounds almost like something Orson Scott Card would dream up..."

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