Tag Archives: CPU

Fluff, The Silent Killer

Processor and HeatsinkFluff can be a PC killer as I recently discovered, but the solution to the problem is straightforward.

As a true geek, I built my own PC, but it’s no speed demon with a mid-range quad-core processor. However, I’d been suffering from intermittent PC shutdowns that would always happen when I was at the PC and never when the PCs was on but not in use. It was very irritating because you’d be right in the middle of something and then you’d be dumped out. I put it down to buggy software.

Last week I started to rip a few DVDs for tablet viewing and every time the PC would shutdown within about 30 seconds of starting the file conversion. At this point I began to think that the processor might be overheating, forcing a shutdown before it was damaged. Upon opening the case, nothing looked particularly out of the ordinary; there was a bit of fluff but nothing you’d think of as being a problem. It was only when I looked more closely at the heat sink on the CPU that I saw many of the spaces between the thermal vanes were clogged with fluff.

Out with the vacuum cleaner and a good hoovering later, I powered the PC on and started a fresh rip. This time the PC didn’t shutdown and I was able to rip solidly for at least an hour without any shutdowns. Problem solved!

Tip of the Day – if you are experiencing intermittent crashes or shutdowns, open your PC and give your CPU’s heatsink and fan a clean with the vacuum cleaner.

And if any Americans out there are wondering what “fluff” is, I believe that you know it as “lint”.

Heatsink and fan picture courtesy of BigStockPhoto.com.

MIPS Technologies Introduces a $99 Android 4.0 Tablet

If you wanted a $99 tablet, you would wait for the HP fire sales of the TouchPad, or buy a no-name brand tablet that had a low end processor and no memory. But MIPS Technologies has announced their entry into the market – a $99 tablet that can run Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich).

You might have MIPS technology in your home already. The MIPS processor is what powers TVs, DTV boxes, and other appliances from Sony, Pioneer, Motorola, and Cisco (Linksys).

MIPS Technologies
MIPS Technologies

Now, it’s ready to enter in the mobile market with the new tablet. The first one, a 7″ tablet created by Ainovo; the NOVO7 runs using a GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) at 444MHz. The processor is a 1GHz single core, but using a technology called XBurst. Called JZ4770, it’s MIPS32,  65 nanometer architecture. The processor notes it can show 2D or 3D video in 1080p, with a low power consumption (less than 250mW).

Unfortunately, the unit is also sold out at this time.

“The openness of Android is enabling a new level of connectedness and interaction between devices and between people across the globe,” said Sandeep Vij, president and CEO, MIPS Technologies. “We are excited to be a part of the Android ecosystem delivering on that vision. We applaud Ingenic’s accomplishment in developing this new high-performance, feature-rich Android 4.0 tablet, and offering it at a price point that makes it widely accessible. We look forward to teaming with Ingenic as it continues to develop MIPS-Based mobile innovations.”

Aionvo NOVO7
Aionvo NOVO7

Andy Rubin, senior vice president of mobile at Google joined in on the praise:

“I’m thrilled to see the entrance of MIPS-Based Android 4.0 tablets into the market. Low cost, high performance tablets are a big win for mobile consumers and a strong illustration of how Android’s openness drives innovation and competition for the benefit of consumers around the world.”

8″ and 9″ form factors will be available soon. All versions include support for WiFi 802.11 b/g/n, USB 2.0, HDMI 1.3 and microSD, as well as 3D graphics (1080p video decoding) and dual front/rear cameras (the NOVO7 has a 2MP rear, VGA face camera system).

The age of the “throw-away” tablet could be coming sooner than you think.


Price of Sand Falls

Anyone who’s been around technology knows that over time you get more for less. Whether it’s more GB, more GHz, more pixels, it’s a side effect of Moore’s Law and market forces. You always pay a premium for the new stuff but over time the price falls.

Sometimes, it’s not always readily apparent how much it falls. Perhaps it’s because it’s often a year or two between purchasing whole new computers and you only really consider the total cost of the PC. Perhaps it’s because the latest OS consumes resources such that Windows 7 on a Core processor runs as well as Windows 98 on a Pentium III.

But recently I had the opportunity to really see how much prices fall over time. Back in June 2010, I built a PC from components and at the time I only had enough money for a dual core processor and 2 GB RAM (which is fine for running Linux).  Last week I decided to upgrade to a quad core processor and 4 GB RAM. When I saw the prices, I couldn’t believe that they’d dropped so much.

June 2010 – 2 GB @ £37
Feb 2011 – 4 GB @ £31

AMD Athlon 2
June 2010 – Dual core 3 GHz @ £57
Feb 2011 – Quad core 3 GHz @ £63

The RAM prices are a direct comparison as it was exactly same memory module from the same vendor. For the CPU, it was the quad core version of the dual core in terms of clock speed and cache, though the vendor was different.

I can’t say exactly when or why the prices actually fell, but from an empirical point of view after about 9 months, the same amount of money seems to gets you twice as much RAM or twice as many cores.

I’ll buy that for a dollar!

Intel Builds the GPU into the CPU on Core

Jeffrey Power talks to Mike Martin of Intel, which announced the incorporation of the Intel graphics processor (the GPU)  onto the CPU across the whole of the Core range (i3, i5, i7).

The stand at CES had an impressive artistic display showing off the power of the new Core processors, which you can see in the video.

Available now – look for the Intel kink (the yellow branding tag) on the packaging.

Interview by Jeffrey Powers of Geekazine.

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AMD Releases 64-Bit Athlon

Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) will launch its new 64-bit Athlon microprocessor tomorrow. This chip gives AMD a significant edge over rival Intel. Microsoft is slated to release a version of the Windows operating system optimized to run on AMD’s new chip, forcing Intel to model the AMD component architecture or convince Microsoft to create a Windows version for the as-yet-unreleased 64-bit chip from Intel.

The new AMD chip will most benefit scientists and engineers (and computer gamers) with it’s ability to process 64 bits of data at once, twice the bandwidth of the current generation of microprocessors.

The Athlon 64 chip will run existing 32-bit applications, and its posed to take advantage of 64-bit applications as they are released to market.

Dave’s Opinion
The release of AMD’s new chip has more value toward bragging rights than it does in actual end-user performance improvement. Most users won’t be seeing a 64-bit processor on their desktop for at least a year, and savvy IS managers won’t be rolling out company wide installations of the chip in network servers and workstations until they give it a thorough testing (or wait for others to test it for them). But 64-bit processing on our computing horizon. More vivid graphics, faster database operations, and smoother network services are all expected from the new family of processors.

It’s time of me to upgrade one of my front-line Linux network servers. I’ll check pricing on the new AMD chips and related components. If the total package works out to be reasonably priced, maybe I’ll be able to give you a hands-on report.

Call for Comments
What do you think? Leave your comments below.