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Comment Re:Become less ideologically bent (Score 1) 231

Agreed. I can bootstrap a complete OS and software stack, even cross-compile it to multiple hardware platforms, but I can't do the same thing at the hardware level. I'm stuck with multiple levels of proprietary hardware and firmware. I can't get HDL to my RasPi. I want the ability to bootstrap a complete hardware design (physical circuit boards, RTL, and ALL platform firmware) between multiple independent hardware and silicon vendors. True multiple-sourcing. If I had the facilities (board manufacturing, fab process) I could do it myself. I expect FPGAs to grow good enough to handle this in my lifetime, but they are still tied to proprietary toolchains, and designs for the FPGA silicon itself is not Free or Open.

Comment Re:What about CPU microcode? (Score 1) 179

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.

Submission + - Intel To Offer Custom Xeons With Embedded FPGAs For The Data Center (

MojoKid writes: For years, we've heard rumors that Intel was building custom chips for Google or Facebook, but these deals have always been assumed to work with standard hardware. Intel might offer a different product SKU with non-standard core counts, or a specific TDP target, or a particular amount of cache — but at the end of the day, these were standard Xeon processors. Today, it looks like that's changing for the first time — Intel is going to start embedding custom FPGAs into its own CPU silicon. The new FPGA-equipped Xeons will occupy precisely the same socket and platform as the standard, non-FPGA Xeons. Nothing will change on the customer front (BIOS updates may be required), but the chips should be drop-in compatible. The company has not stated who provided its integrated FPGA design, but Altera is a safe bet. The two companies have worked together on multiple designs and Altera (which builds FPGAs) is using Intel for its manufacturing. This move should allow Intel to market highly specialized performance hardware to customers willing to pay for it. By using FPGAs to accelerate certain specific types of workloads, Intel Xeon customers can reap higher performance for critical functions without translating the majority of their code to OpenCL or bothering to update it for GPGPU.

Comment Re:X-25M Death: Firmware bug too? (Score 1) 510

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.

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This is clearly another case of too many mad scientists, and not enough hunchbacks.