A Daily Diatribe by a Pompous Git

Who is that fat bastard? A Sturm's Eye View, Guaranteed Free of Harmful, or Potentially Harmful Chemicals -- but Watch Out for the Ideas! Some of them are Contagious! 

A journal of sorts to record Jonathan Sturm's (and others') thoughts and observations on things worth thinking about. Feedback welcome, but be aware that unless you prominently say you want your communication kept private, I may publish it.

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Monday 6 May 2002

Sunday's rant hit a few nerves among readers. Apparently, I don't know what I am talking about. I am an anti-Intel bigot merely because they are the biggest. A perusal of the sixteen computers I have owned would appear to indicate the opposite. Of the sixteen, seven are Intel, six are AMD, two NEC and one ARM. Had I been buying a year ago, Intel would account for eight, two more than AMD. Were I buying this week, I would buy AMD, bringing the score up to even. The fact is, my bias when it comes to purchasing a machine is what balance of price/performance will it give me. Next year, it's just as likely to be Intel as AMD -- I have no crystal ball to predict the future.

It's true that AMD's CPUs run hot and in a badly designed box this can lead to disaster. There are two approaches to this potential issue. The one I have taken with the 700 MHz K7 is a massive heat sink with two fans. In the event that one fan dies, it's not a total disaster. Despite it's size, it's the cheapest item in the box apart from the floppy drive. The other is to shift the clock speed down. AMD's CPUs have more than enough grunt that you can still save money and have more power versus Intel. Likely you could also then drop the voltage to the CPU a smidge and cut heat generation even further. 

The AMD K6 II to the right of my workstation has the memory bus running at 83 MHz, rather than the Intel-approved 66 MHz. The CPU runs at 400 MHz, though it's rated at 450 MHz. Maybe that goes partway to explaining my lack of problems with the machine. I was told that running the PCI bus at 41.4 MHz would destroy my video, sound and network cards, but because they are all high quality, that has not happened even though the machine has run 24/7 since 1997. The speed of the CPU is entirely due to the lack of a suitable multiplier to get to 450 MHz with that particular MoBo. In any event, for the kind of work I do, the amount of RAM and RAM access speed is more important than CPU speed.

RAM is even more important in the higher end of graphics than I inhabit. Two years, or so ago, a gigabytes of SDRAM cost around $A3,500 and Intel was demanding its clients move to RDRAM at four times the price if they wanted to use their latest CPUs. The promise of extra performance from RDRAM turned out to be illusory and it didn't take long for graphics professionals to realise that an AMD box loaded to the gills with SDRAM cost far less than a comparable Intel, or Apple, or Sun box for that matter.

Rephrasing what I said yesterday, Intel is reaping what it sowed two years ago, as are AMD. I have been told this is only my opinion. It most definitely not my opinion that Intel expected graphics professionals to shell out an extra $A10,000 per workstation just for RAM. That's historical fact. It's not my opinion that there's a slew of new graphics workstations, like the award-winning 3DBOXX based on AMD processors. (There is a Xeon-based 3DBOXX, but it supports only 2 GB of RAM versus the AMD version supporting 3 GB).

Those needing the extra grunt of two CPUs have spent two years keenly anticipating AMD's response. By all accounts they are more than happy with it and are hoping the best is yet to come as AMD's new platform improves. No doubt Intel is capable of recovering and eventually swinging the pendulum back in its favour again. Or disappearing like Alpha.

Thought for the day:

The causes of events are ever more interesting than the events themselves.

Marcus T. Cicero

Current Listening

Maria Muldaur -- Self-titled


Tuesday 7 May 2002

The Fuck You School of Marketing

None of us know where it is, but I'm sure there will be a rush to blow it up if anyone finds out.

Head of the list of graduates these days has to be Microsoft. There's a lady with a PC given a copy of Windows XP by the Microsofties at a Technical Briefing. Installs it on her PC and when the warning comes up about needing to register the software, calls Microsoft. They tell her she's a pirate and she claims she's not. The argument continues past the time for inputting the code into the PC, so she loses access to all her data. She purchased an iMac.

A few years ago, I was working on a client's machine and it had two 1 GB IBM hard disks. I needed to know the head geometry, so I phoned my usual contact who has a database of every hard disk ever released. They aren't on it, so I call IBM. They tell me that they are OEM, so I have to contact the manufacturer of the box. I tell them the manufacturer is out of business. IBM says: "Bad luck!" 

Another client a year later. I need to access the BIOS on an IBM machine so I can enable booting from the floppy. The key combination is not to be found in the documentation, so I phone IBM. They ask for the customer code. "What code?" "It's on the side of the machine." "It's worn away." "Sorry, we do not give out any information without a customer code."

Apple rode high on the support it gained from desktop publishing and graphics community. John Scully (IIRC) told a gathering of the Mac faithful that they were "ignorant early adopters" and Apple were embracing a whole new client base. Desktop publishing and graphics were no longer relevant to Apple's success.

Hewlett Packard have delayed releasing Win2k drivers for a lot of its legacy hardware. Bob Thompson couldn't use his SCSI HP Scanner on his Win2k machines for years! Presumably, one is supposed to buy new hardware with every new OS release.

Canon never responded to faxes, and I lost patience waiting in their phone queue on a trunk call when I attempted to get my FS2710 slide scanner working under Win2k. No email address for technical support. How I did it here.

TypeQuick software. If the machine you installed it on crashes, bad luck. You can't back up the install floppy and you can't install the software if you didn't do an uninstall before the machine crashed.

I have made my living training end users of software for several years. Most software houses sell me the software I train in either at a worthwhile discount, generally the Education Price, or give it to me for free. QuarkXPress told me the licence would cost the same as for everybody else.

About a year ago, I was contemplating purchasing an Epson inkjet printer and a continuous ink system. Instead of cartridges, the ink is fed through tubes from large bottles of ink sitting beside the printer. This improves the quality of printing which usually degrades as cartridges empty and air gets mixed into the ink. It also cost 10% per print compared to cartridges. Epson responded by releasing printers that would only accept Epson cartridges. 

The "fuck you" school of marketing!


Macromedia DreamWeaver MX is available as a download for evaluation. The interface has changed for the better, IMHO, and it's looking ever more likely to replace FrontPage for my web work. Unlike FrontPage, it has a tabbed multi-document interface, validation for XML and various flavours of HTML and now has its own built-in HTML editor accessible with a single click. With line numbers! So for those of you who have harangued me in the past to get with it and get DreamWeaver, I think you've succeeded. Oh, the old interface is available as an option if you prefer it. More after I've had more time to play with it. The demo version expires fairly soon and the product will apparently ship this month.


Further to yesterday's comments on heat and AMD CPU's, Mr Anonymous writes:

Yes, run your CPU slower until the price per CPU drops80% which is only a few months these days. Then buy a few spares and bring it back up to speed, or even overclock. If you lose a few, you are still ahead of Intel's game.


That only makes sense where CPU speed is the bottleneck. Some apps are more responsive to memory than CPU speed. That's why after reading Tom's Hardware Guide for the first time back in 1997, I experimented with the K6/2 that is now my server box. Sceptics like to try things for themselves. Increasing CPU speed made no noticeable difference apart from decreasing stability when it was too fast. Sure, I could see it in the benchmarks, but that's relatively unimportant. The difference has to be the difference in the time it takes to get the job done. 

Upping the memory bus to 75 or 83 MHz made a noticeable difference to the DTP and graphics apps I was running. I was told that would overstress my expansion cards because they were running at half the memory bus speed -- 37.5, or 41.5 MHz instead of their rated 33 MHz. After 5 years of 24/7 at the higher clock they are still working fine.

At the time, it seemed ridiculous to me that we could buy SDRAM rated for 100 MHz, but we were limited to 66 MHz because system architectures decreed that was the limit. These days of course, we see systems that do take advantage of the full speed of RAM modules and it's now much more widely known that memory speed, not just amount, that is the issue for graphics apps.

When Intel tried to foist RDRAM onto users, they were promising quite unrealistic increases in memory performance at an insane premium. Nowadays, there's no difference in price and I think that's an acknowledgement of the fact that there is no real difference in performance. Those who are into such things tell us that both memory camps are increasing memory speed pretty much in lock-step with each other.

AMD's multi-processor system has the advantage over Intel in using the EV6 memory bus architecture. It's not new -- Alpha MP boxes used it and had they continued to be developed and Win2k released for them, the picture would be quite different today. The EV6 bus allows each processor to read and write memory simultaneously since each processor has its own bus. Intel MP has the processors sharing a single bus, so there is contention between processors for using it and that introduces a bottleneck. The more processors involved, the greater the difference between the two architectures.

Both Intel and AMD have a system where each processor can look in the other processor's cache(s) for instructions. The difference is that with Intel, it's done via main memory, pretty much negating the reason for doing so. No doubt Intel are working on new architecture to overcome these differences that allow AMD to perform to Intel's level at significantly lower clock speeds. AMD will also be working on new approaches to the problems that competition will require them to overcome. This is a Good Thing.

Having gotten a bit more technical than I usually do, what does this all mean to the user? A friend of mine whose business is broadcast-quality video editing says the new Canopus boxes enabled him to get the same amount of editing done by two people on two boxes as used to be done by five people on five Macs. The Macs cost more and the the labour of the three extra people cost more. Before the screaming socialists come down on me for saying this, he hasn't put anyone out of work. My friend is at the top of his profession and it just means his business can be more productive. His bottleneck is the number of competent staff he can find to hire.

And the thing that I find really stunning is that for the same kind of money I paid for my first real PC, a 286 with 3 MB of RAM, a 12" mono monitor and an inkjet printer, I could buy a workstation-class machine using the same innards as the Canopus, a19" or 21" professional Sony monitor and a colour laser printer.

Thought for the day:

Engineers aren't boring people, we just get excited over boring things.


Current Listening

Fripp and Eno -- No Pussyfooting


Wednesday 8 May 2002

Many years ago, the Git went to art school, ostensibly to learn printmaking, but really it was so he could lay his hands on the printing gear and use it. Not to mention access a not half bad library. Since I have been called a bullshitter rather frequently over the last few days, here's some proof:

student card -- 1980

Artists are just like other people in many ways. Many liked to argue about what was the best media to use. Oil painters were the worst! Acrylic paintings weren't "real" art. Photography wasn't "real" art. And of course printmaking wasn't "real" art either.

The Git enjoyed photography. Here's a picture of my first landlord in Hobart. He was a Greek and used to bring a gift of Greek food by on rent day and home made wine at Christmas.

my landlord, Hobart 1971

My favourite medium for painting was egg tempera. The stuff you buy (if you can get it) isn't the real thing as it goes off in about half a day if I recall correctly. You take the yolk of an egg and rinse it thoroughly to remove all trace of egg white. Then you carefully pinch the top and hold it over a container while you slip the point of a knife into the bottom. The inside of the yolk sac is mixed with pigment and used in the same way you would any other paint, mixing it with water to make it runnier. It took a while to get the right mix of pigment and yolk because each pigment behaved differently.

When the finished painting was dried sufficiently, it was buffed up with a rag to produce a surface quite different to any other paint surface you will ever see. Not glossy and not matt. Surprisingly, the colours were much cooler in appearance than with acrylic, or oil media. This painting took about nine months on and off. The "purchaser" never paid for it. Some people are like that. I was told that if I took it back without his permission, I would be charged with theft. That's the law for you.

cart in field painting 1979

The scan could be better. I was trialling a downmarket scanner when I made it. The Canon I ended up purchasing will make a better job when I get around to it.

All this was before the computer had any major role to play in the arts. 

Some people are fond of the phrase: "Everyone's entitled to their opinion". This is, of course perfectly true. But that doesn't give anyone the right to impose their opinion on those who really don't want to hear it. I have a different opinion in the morning to the one I have in the afternoon. No doubt there are some who believe that Douglas Adams' (H2G2) writing wasn't "real" humour because he wrote it on a Mac instead of a PC.


One of my readers just bought an iMac. He was contemplating a Sun Blade workstation, then asked himself what he was really buying it for. He writes:

Here were my major (in order of importance) considerations in my purchase.

1. Space - Renting a single bedroom means that things must be compact. My first inclination was to go with a laptop. 

2. Application - I'm wanting to digitize my home movies and pictures plus have a few educational games for my son. Don't really care much about office automation (any computer can do that well), so my basis of comparison was on graphics intensive computing. I've been using a Dell 8100 from work with a 1.1 GHz CPU with 512Mb RAM to capture video. The video and audio would never sync up regardless of the settings on the sound side of the capture, and I didn't want to have to try and manually sync the two up. 

3. Price - What put the iMac over the top was it's price (believe it or not). I priced a small form factor PC from Dell and Compaq with similar features. What made the two PCs cost more was the 15" LCD screen.


Thanks, Jack :-)

And Scott writes:

For me, I had been with the with intel since DOS 1.X days and in 1998 after having to reboot every time I switched IP addresses, viruii hitting every other day, lack of battery life on the new Intel laptops, etc., I got an Apple 1400 Powerbook and MAC OS 8.1 .

Took a week or two, to learn how to do my "poweruser" network geek stuff on it but now, am really happy with it. There are some "I wish it could do this better" type of stuff but overall, prefer to use it more than the Windows or Linux OS's. I still use Windows for my workstation job sites for Application stuff like firewall managers, Intrusion Detection programs that the vendors have written stuff only for Windows, but for the most part, I use my MAC(s) for most of my stuff.

Again, depends on your requirements. My requirements were to be able to Ping, Traceroute, Capture packets ( sniffer stuff ), run Microsoft Office, do E-Mail, surf the web ( I am running IE 5.14 on MAC right now, ironically enough ), and some other real geeky stuff. For me, it met all of those goals so, I took a chance in '98 and have been happier with it than Windows, ever since. Would I be happy with a Windows laptop? Sure. But I can do more and do it a lot easier and more conveniently than another OS at this point. No .DLL's to mess with or get infected or replaced accidentally. If I don't like a program, I remove it by dragging the folder to the trash, like we did in the DOS days with deltree. No registry tricks or weird removal procedure to d__k with. With W2K, that line has blurred a little as far as what OS do I want to use as it can do a lot of stuff and is pretty stable now. I still enjoy better security and less maintenance in my MAC. Application support, while still an issue, most applications I use a majority of the time, run on the MAC OS, so it's a small issue for me. If I was a major 'gamer' or 'mud' guy, that might be different but, I don't really do any of that type of stuff so, no a big deal for me. Although, Quake runs good on MAC OS X, I have to say. <g> Again, you have to ask yourself, what are your requirements? Find the software requirements first, then get the hardware to match.

So, after all of this, I guess it's a YMMV thing anyway. :-)

Thanks Scott. As you say, it's what you want to do, determined by the software, first. My core apps are MS Office, CorelDRAW! Suite, PageMaker and FileMaker Pro. All available on the Mac. Maybe this will be my next machine.

Thought for the day:

A painting in a museum probably hears more foolish remarks than anything else in the world.

Edmond and Jules De Goncourt

Current Listening

Emerson, Lake and Palmer -- Pictures at an Exhibition


Thursday 9 May 2002

From some of the correspondence I have had in the last few days, it's clear that some people have no real idea about computers. Others are the opposite. I'm not saying that they lack technical savvy -- there's no doubt that they know far more than The Pompous Git. But somewhere along the way, they lost the plot. The core issue is what is the machine used for, not what the machine is.

Looking at some tasks and how that impacts the computer buying decision:

Word processing Pretty well any machine you can buy will do this well enough. 
Vector graphics CPU intensive and also benefits from the floating point processor. 
Bitmap graphics Big files, so plenty of RAM called for. Bitmap editors load several copies of the file.
Audio and video Huge files that won't fit into RAM, so a fast disk subsystem is called for. Audio means thinking about something better than a SoundBlaster, video editing requires a specialised video adapter. 
3D Graphics CPU, floating point intensive and benefits from a specialised 3D video adapter. 
Scientific CPU and floating point intensive. 3D graphing means a specialised 3D video adapter might provide a benefit.
Programming CPU intensive. Dual CPUs allow a compile to run on one while editing the code on another.
Single tasking, or multi-tasking Unless what you are doing is written to use multiple CPUs, or you regularly multi-task heavily, a single CPU suffices.
Graphics tablet CAD and other graphics require a tablet and stylus or puck. 
Printer There's a huge variety of printers. DTP virtually mandates PostScript. Movies are "printed" to tape, or DVD. Colour is an issue for some and not others. Inkjet is fine for occasional printing, but high volume mandates a laser printer. Huge print sizes require a plotter.
Monitor Often bigger is better. Bitmap editing usually requires brightness and colour accuracy above sharpness, so an aperture grill monitor is preferable. CAD requires sharpness more than colour saturation, so a shadow mask is preferable. Sharpness is important in word processing. Refresh rate is important if you work for extended periods. For graphics, a second monitor so palettes don't obscure the work is a great time-saver.
Back-up Big files mandate tape backup, while small files are easily dealt with on a Zip drive. In between are CD-RW and DVD-RW.

The list is far from comprehensive. An additional issue for me is power supply quality. My next hardware purchase is most likely to be an APC UPS. The one after an A3 colour laser printer. After that a bigger and better quality digitiser made by Wacom.

Most of us are on a restricted budget, so we have to go through our wish-list several times deciding where we can compromise and where we cannot. On a $A10,000 budget, the difference of $A1,800 between a pair of AMD CPUs and a pair of Intel CPUs is the same as the difference between a 15 inch monitor and a 21 inch monitor. Where viewing an A3 bitmap at 100% is essential, that's a critical difference. Currently, I do that on my 19 inch, but it's a time-wasting pain scrolling side to side, or squinting.

One of my drinking buddies programs climate models and the applications run on a Cray. When I asked him how they would run on one of the massively parallel Intel-based supercomputers, he laughed uproariously. He explained that the Intel was perfect for working out electricity bills for lots of consumers, but his apps are the equivalent of having to work out each bill in turn because each subsequent bill requires the result of the previous bill.

The Intel machine was bigger and faster as measured in gigaflops than his employer's aging Cray. And completely useless for what he was doing. What takes days on the Cray would take decades on the Intel.

Thought for the day:

We must not contradict, but instruct him that contradicts us; for a madman is not cured by another running mad also.


Current Listening

Moody Blues -- A Question of Balance


Friday 10 May 2002

Zahurmian was once asked which was most important the meaning or the sound of words. He replied that the meaning of words was of little or no importance whatsoever. The sound of words had some significance, but what really counted was neither of these -- it was the implication of words that counted

Thought for the day:

The cat, having sat upon a hot stove lid, will not sit upon a hot stove lid again. But he won't sit upon a cold stove lid, either.

Mark Twain

Current Listening

Brian Eno -- Here Come the Warm Jets


Saturday 11 May 2002

New reader Colin Grant wrote:

So we're still in the position of being "unsure" about anthropogenic global warming. We will still be in that position as the warming continues and devistates our ecology and economies. Even if you're scepticism is justified (I don't think it is), can you tell me one disadvantage of making the moves that would reduce GHG emissions? We would lower our suicidal (I choose the word carefully) dependence on fossil fuels, particularly oil which is what the utterly corrupt "War on Terrorism" is really about. We would shift to cleaner, safer, quieter, more localised energy production. Our kids would get less asthma. And maybe, just maybe we would stop spending the hideous sums of money on military buildup required for the US and its allies to chase the last of the oil around the planet.

What does your skepticism bring to humanity. If antropogenic global warming is happening, we move to a better way of living as we reduce our emissions. If it's all outside our control, we still move to a better way of living. Just what are you achieving with your attitude?

Why not stop pontificating and start helping to build a better world?

Colin Grant P.S. I'm not really rushing to sign up for a subsription to your site.

You might try reading more before condemning me. I use public transport rather than owning my own vehicle. I no longer even possess a driver's licence. I built an energy efficient house to reduce my dependence on electricity and fuel. I grow my vegetables organically. I grow and harvest most of my own fuel from trees I grew from seed I harvested.

Tell me: do you drive a vehicle? Do you purchase food from supermarkets that was grown with fossil fuel dependent fertilisers and pesticides? Do you perhaps cook that food with electricity produced by coal/gas fired generating equipment? I bet you eat fast food.

I limit my income to my true needs, rather than pursuing money for toys and living space beyond any reasonable person's needs. Living frugally limits the amount of my money that feeds the tax-eaters -- nil this year. I don't need to believe in the irrational to do all these things.

Tell me, what does your hypocrisy bring to humanity?

The Pompous Git has to eat some of his words:

Since you ask, actually I'm in the middle of building an "earthship" home and greenhousing/permaculture facility, which will also be a visitor and education centre. I work to help businesses to reduce their environmental impact. I have received several awards for my eco-entrepreneurship. I cycle almost everywhere I go and don't go near fast food outlets.

Yes, you're right, I didn't go further into your website to find the good stuff. I was referred to it by a hyperlink sent by a friend pointing out a good example of pointless "skepticism" about climate change and didn't get any further.

I still don't understand why this would be in the website of someone who obviously looks for solutions. In my opinion (which should have been expressed more humbly) it takes away from the more positive aspects of your work. I just don't get why an intelligent, caring person would take the risk that climate change was "natural". I would still be interested in hearing what we could possibly gain by taking this risk or why anyone would muddy the waters by suggesting this. The majority of people can't see past black and white on this issue - if they have any doubt it's happening, they won't do anything. Of course, until it's potentially too late, we won't know for sure - probably never will. But with so much to gain and so little to lose from reducing our emissions and with no other focal point that has the impact of climate change, why muddy the waters (fuel the fire?) unless you are 100% sure it's not our GHG's that are doing it. Which, of course, you can't be. I really don't understand and I'm even more confused now that I've looked at other aspects of your work. Isn't it a shame that I found your site through someone's anger rather than through positive recommendations about the good work you do? Looks like our thinking is pretty close in many ways though.

Good luck with your other efforts though and apologies for coming on so strong.


Colin Grant


I, too must apologise for jumping to conclusions. I can only plead having a bad week.

My scepticism extends to many things, not just the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis. Argument for treading more lightly on the earth should not rely on bad, or pseudo-science. Or untruths. Largely I live my life by being in favour of things, rather than protesting against things, though the line is often blurry :-)

You write:

"I just don't get why an intelligent, caring person would take the risk that climate change was "natural". I would still be interested in hearing what we could possibly gain by taking this risk or why anyone would muddy the waters by suggesting this."

First, climate change is natural. It's been occurring for a long time and appears to consist in recent (geological) time of ice ages punctuated by somewhat shorter interglacials. We are currently in an interglacial and if Milankovitch's hypothesis is correct, quite close to a return to another ice age. The current state of climate science cannot provide any compelling evidence that our current climate is anything outside the bounds of natural occurrence, or predict future climate any certainty. Hunches are not a substitute for science. Thirty years ago, global cooling was the Big Scary Thing that exercised Bill Mollison and myself over tea and wholemeal bread sandwiches in Hobart.

Pretending that there is evidence and tested theory where there is none would be muddying the waters. I rather think I am attempting the opposite. Precipitate action based on false assumptions is risky. I'd rather see the proposed billions of dollars for Kyoto go to providing sanitary water supplies for those who lack such a basic necessity. And education.

I don't think you will find any argument against reduction of noxious emissions from any of the global warming sceptics (mostly scientists) that I have been conversing with for several weeks now.

Perhaps it's a *good* thing that "...[you] found [my] site through someone's anger rather than through positive recommendations...".

"Looks like our thinking is pretty close in many ways though." Ever do I find that the two sides in any conflict have more in common than either wish to acknowledge. Confronting that can be pretty uncomfortable at times.

And found in my Inbox:

(from Father Ed in Chi-town)


One day a farmer's donkey fell into an abandoned well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old and the well needed to be covered up anyway, so it just wasn't worth it to him to try to retrieve the donkey.

He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They each grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. Realizing what was happening, the donkey at first cried and wailed horribly. Then, a few shovelfuls later, he quieted down completely. The farmer peered down into the well, and was astounded by what he saw. With every shovelful of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up on the new layer of dirt. As the farmer's neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up.

Pretty soon, the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and trotted off, to the shock and astonishment of all the neighbors!

Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to not let it bury you, but to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a stepping-stone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up!

Remember the five simple rules to be happy: 

Free your heart from hatred. 
Free your mind from worries. 
Live simply. 
Give more. 
Expect less.

Thought for the day:

We are called to be architects of the future, not its victims.

Buckminster Fuller

Current Listening

Rory Gallagher -- Tattoo


Sunday 12 May 2002

Interesting piece by Jeff Bruss on building an Athlon dual processor machine here. Trying to compare prices between an Athlon MP and comparable Xeon was an exercise in frustration. Very few suppliers I could find in Australia sell Xeon processors, or motherboards. I eventually found one on the Internet and the price differential on CPUs/MoBo/SCSI/Sound (some are built in) was enough to cover the cost of a Seagate 18 GB 10k SCSI drive, Matrox G550 dual-head video card, a DVD rewriter and a 21 inch Sony monitor.

Such a machine would naturally generate considerable internal heat. AMD make quite a lot of information available for download, including issues such as power supply design. Apparently, a power supply with air intake from underneath cools the CPUs more efficiently than one where the intake is to the rear. AMD suggests that the CPU should run at 50C idle and 60C under load, the maximum temperature not to exceed 90C. To achieve this, the maximum air temperature should not go above 43C. From the foregoing, it would seem that if people are having problems with AMD processors and heat, then the cause is likely to be one of the following:

Be aware that most temperature sensors on motherboards use a thermistor that is likely only accurate to 20% -- 10% at best -- and so is a very approximate guide to the actual temperature your CPU is running at. Given the extreme temperature difference between the recommendation and maximum, machines from reputable suppliers should pose no problem.

Access to similar information from Intel appears to be restricted. Despite such references as: "Intel Pentium Processor in the 478 pin Package Thermal Design Guidelines", such documents appear to be username and password protected.

Thought for the day:

The energy produced by the breaking down of the atom is a very poor kind of thing. Anyone who expects a source of power from the transformation of these atoms is talking moonshine.

Ernest Rutherford

Current Listening

John Cale -- Paris 1919


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Jonathan Sturm 2002

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Jonathan Sturm 2002