Hardware Tech

AMD production analysis

Stellar analysis of AMD’s current state.

TLDR, demand for EPYC and the potential revenue is too hard to ignore. AMD having gained some advantages over Intel in this space. Enough that the high end market is switching.

So the bulk of AMD’s production targets are shifting that way. Desktop CPUs and GPUs then have to contend with the leftovers. This does put paid to the idea that AMD were having problems with yields.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing since it means AMD are in a stronger position and making use of it.

The down side is that for the consumer desktop, prices will remain high and CPU / GPU options short.

Hardware Tech

Motherboard dark mode

Dark mode. Now coming to motherboards. Well, at least EVGAs anyway.

Its like saying, “Once upon a time. All food was organic.”.


New Defender

Wow. The new Defender is … something else. Feature packed would put it mildly. It certainly looks the part and reviews show its capable.

However Defenders of old had the reputation of being long lived and repairable. We’ll find out soon enough.

Times change.

Or maybe they don’t have to.

Hardware Tech

QLC NAND & more – the Intel roadmap

Intel just announced their roadmap for storage. Anandtech got the full scoop.

Their enterprise storage game is strong. Optane at the enterprise level is going to provide significant benefits in being able to quickly restart / recover and maintain persistent data readily.

The final measure, as with anything, will be the price. But for mission critical corporate and server applications it should be an easy sell.

On the consumer front, Intel’s QLC NAND has been extremely succesful. The 660P has been a winning combination of price and performance. Linus gave a good run down on it.

Theres clear benefits and problems with it. The key ones being sustained throughput drop off and life span.

However Linus does come around and I’d agree. For general consumer use, the price / performance is hard to beat.


The Jack Conte through line

Heather Elizabeth’s voice is just amazing.
Love the intro where the band smashes the songs together.
A straight up fun song cover.
Hardware Tech

US tariff exemptions on some computer parts

Say, “Thank you Apple”. According to Reuters, Apple won some exemptions from the US trade regulators on certain computer parts.

Specifically around the new Mac Pro. Partially because they’ll continue to build the Mac Pro in Austin, Texas.

The knock on is that these exemptions look to be across the board as it benefits general PC makers and likely retail computer parts.


Contactless payment on Sydney public transport

Ditching another card from my wallet. The Opal payment system can now take contactless payment across all Sydney buses, trains, light rail, Metro and ferries.

With full travel benefits :

  • $2 discount for every transfer between modes (train, ferry, bus or light rail) as part of one journey. The Opal Transfer Discount does not apply when transferring between light rail and Sydney Ferries.
  • Half price travel after eight paid journeys in a week.
  • Fares capped daily, weekly and on Sundays.
  • 30% discount on train fares outside peak times.

Full details at Transport NSW’s site posted on the 23rd September 2019.

Movies Music

I am so sad. I am so very very sad.

A musical super cut. Now where did I put the soundtrack CD ?
Making Stuff Tech

Mac futures

So what is the future of the Mac ? A lot of discussion has resurfaced again.

Dan Benjamin tweeted recently:

John Dvorak devoted another article to the Mac being phased out.

What I’m sensing is that like the old Apple II (forever), the Mac will be phased out and the whole line will be replaced by iPads.

I would take Dan’s tweet with a hint of humour (because I know I’d lose in a fight with him) but John is serious.

The iMac Pro landed to much fanfare just before Christmas. In time for a lot of good press and general reviews. It looks like a solid workstation for users needing a machine that can multitask heavily.

Apple have struggled with the Mac line. The problem seems to be the resources needed to maintain it when they’re focused chiefly on the main money maker, iOS and its devices.

When a rumour that Apple was going to drop the Mac Pro, professional users raised a clamour. It was enough to cause a usually quiet Apple to respond by having Craig Federighi and Phil Schiller do press. They re-confirmed Apple’s commitment to the Mac.

Initial discussion was around a pro version of the Imac. However further feedback caused Apple to say that they would deliver a revised “modular” Mac Pro.

In the meantime, that pro iMac has arrived. The specifications and performance are solid. However Apple’s definition of pro is very specific. The iMac Pro is very much an iMac. It is completely non user upgradeable. Some upgrades can be done by service centres.

So far I could see this machine being one that Apple worked on all along. Based on the initial discussions and expectations that Apple were hoping to set.

My issue here is, are Apple gauging the professional market with this iMac and the proposed Mac Pro ? The iMac Pro is very much an all in one with a finite life span. The only solid evidence we have is that Apple are firmly committed to AR and VR. Developers in this area will need workstation machines capable of handling demanding tasks.

The problem will be if sales aren’t to Apple’s expectations. Is this the end of the line ? Apple themselves have said that the desktop market is a small percentage of the overall Mac market. The Mac Pro an even smaller percentage of that small desktop percentage.

It’d be understandable if the amount of work and time to deliver a pro desktop is a tough ask. Its hard not to take the current Mac Pro’s state as an indicator of what they’ve been thinking. Sure I can understand that they might have made some bad design decisions but it saw no major revisions since its release.

Granted some of the fault rests with Intel’s workstation processors lagging badly on their roadmaps.

I do hope that we’ll get workstation Macs. I look forward to seeing what the future holds. Possibly even buying one. Because my use cases better fit the Mac Pro then the iMac Pro. I’m leaning towards having a workstation again one way or the other.

At the prices Apple is asking, its an investment that needs to last more then four to five years though.

Software Tech

What do we do with a problem like macOS or that rumoured Apple Universal Apps plan

So Apple are rumoured to be going to a single binary in the future. This means that developers can deliver to MacOS and iOS all at once.

To quote, Mark Gurman, who broke the story:

“Starting as early as next year, software developers will be able to design a single application that works with a touchscreen or mouse and trackpad depending on whether it’s running on the iPhone and iPad operating system or on Mac hardware, according to people familiar with the matter.”

I can see Apple’s direction in this.

  • It puts macOS on the same footing as iOS with users.
  • Makes iOS developers consider macOS versions. In a lot of ways, macOS is an untapped market. Mac sales have been and are strong.
  • Potential simplification of programming APIs from both the language, itself, and for developers.

Thing is this isn’t without its problems.

  • Pricing. macOS apps are traditionally pricier then iOS apps. Arguably there is more work involved on macOS. Part of this is the comprehensiveness of features and inter-operability.
  • App Store only ? With the state of the macOS App Store currently, developers have been leaving to sell their apps independently. Would the universal binaries be restricted to the App Store only ? This would come with the guidelines about sandboxing which was the reason for developers leaving to begin with.
  • Half baked macOS versions. The bulk of the App Store market is in iOS. Given customers are use to very cheap or free that puts pressure on developers to assess very carefully what platforms and features they service. The dearth of good iPad apps is a reflection of this. How will macOS fare ?

Its pretty clear that the iPhone is the champion in Apple’s stables. So it has the chief share of development resources and marketing push. Thats not to say that iPad and Macs are slouches. Any company would die to have the sort of market that the iPad or Mac has.

Its just in comparison, the iPhone is the bread winner.

My issue is that even the iPad, which directly shares a lot of the iPhone resources, comes off second best in developer eyes. Its going to be a tough ask of iOS developers to invest in macOS development. Even as a hobby developer, I weigh the time and cost of each “platform”.

For this to succeed Apple will need to provide unified tools and APIs to help with delivering these sorts of apps quicker and easier then they are today.

If theres anyone to do this, Apple are it. The sorts of technical challenges that they’ve managed in the past are proof of that. Its just the road behind is also littered with the proof where their will hasn’t been up to the task as well.

Apple seems to be taking on board a lot of discussion around their product offerings and responding more (for Apple). So I’ll take this as a good sign in that they’re looking into the Mac as a whole.

For a comprehensive discussion of this, head over to the excellent MJTsai’s blog.