Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Is the Power6 Better?

IBM announced that they've discovered a new chipmaking method that will allow its new Power6 processors to reach clockspeeds of 4-5 Ghz by altering how the silicon behaves. This has, not surprisingly, caused many people to question Apple's switch to Intel, but I still think Apple made a good decision. This is still a work in progress and won't even be ready before next year. If Apple had to wait another year to come out with a new laptop, it probably knew that it would lose huge market share because it could not create a PowerBook G5 that had decent performance per watt (PPW). There's more to this story though than that even. Why are these chipmakers so fascinated with increasing clockspeeds? It's disappointing how even some people in IT are misled into buying machines with faster clockspeeds when they don't realize that the most important factors in performance are really execution time of commonly used applications and throughput. If the ISA isn't good, then you're going to keep increasing the clockspeed at the expense of more cycles per instruction (CPI) most likely because it affects the microarchitecture. For those of you who are lost: this "advancement" comes at the expense of other factors that, when balanced out, will make very little difference. An AMD chip at half the clockspeed or maybe even a Core Duo could probably perform just as well, and they're already out! I don't expect the average person to know this, but now you know: don't fall into the gigahertz trap. A faster processor speed does not necessarily mean a better computer. We've actually been learning about this stuff recently in CS 352 and I find it fascinating.

Apple basically made my iPod Shuffle obsolete today by releasing a 1 GB iPod Nano for $150. That's only $20 more than mine, which has now dropped down to $100 (and the 512MB to $70), and it comes with a color screen. I feel a little bereft by it, but it's a very smart move for them since I know that advancements in the past year have made this flash memory much cheaper. Google is in the process of integrating a new feature into Gmail: chat. Now you can interact with other Gmail users over Google Talk right out of Gmail, and keep logs of the conversations for easy searching later. The best feature is the ability to go "off the record" and disallow any recording of the conversation, but now they just need to get people to actually use it so I can chat with them on it. If you're curious as to what Firefox came from, this is a really good read for historical purposes. In a nutshell: Mozilla and Netscape had a falling out, and Firefox was the stripped-down version of what Netscape wanted because the developers felt it was too bloated. Lastly, if you want to know what IT is like then you should check out Intel's addictive little self-promoting game. The only problem is that it makes you realize how much you'd never want a job like that. I'm so glad I chose CS over MIS.

All you Pixar fans out there may be pleased to know that they are, in fact, going to be taking the helm of Toy Story 3 (presumably with a new plot), and Disney expects them to pump out two movies a year. I think that it'll probably be more like one and a half in reality, but I hope that the quality of their movies doesn't suffer in turn. IGN asked David Hayter, who holds the badass voice of Solid Snake from the Metal Gear Solid series, ten questions about himself and is career and its a nice little snapshot of him if you're interested in this X-men writer. They also managed to interview Mary Lynn Rajskub (Chloe on 24), who will be starring in Firewall with Harrison Ford. I think it'll be a good role for her, and I don't think that anyone else could be play Chloe but her. Sylvester Stallone doesn't know when to call it quits and has decided that he's going to make a Rambo 4 right after his new Rocky movie. Guess who's writing and directing it at this point? That's right, Stallone himself, who is a rather questionable choice if you ask me. I just have a couple of trailers left. The teaser for Omen: 666 has to be the creepiest trailer I've seen that doesn't actually do anything to purposely scare you. There's also a trailer up for Ask the Dust, and this big deal about this movie (besides Ms. Hayek) is that it's written by Robert Towne, of Chinatown (a must-see) and Mission: Impossible fame. I still can't tell how good it will actually be though.

Since I didn't want to post Salma Hayek two days in a row, I thought I'd post a postcard that hits close to home:

Click to enlarge

Now it's time for some Tuesday Twosome action:

1. Do you have an iPod/mP3 player? If so, what kind?
As I said above, a 1 GB iPod Shuffle.

2. How many songs are on your player and of those, how many did you purchase online?
I only have 81 songs on there right now (I update it weekly), but most of them were ripped from CDs I have. Some of them were on this computer when my brother gave it to him, which he largely ripped from CDs as well, so I didn't purchase any online really. If my credit card bill wasn't paid by my dad, I'd probably buy more mp3s.

3. Do you tend to listen to a certain type of music when you are sad/down? If so, describe:
Mostly just jazz and other slow stuff. I find it very reflective and good for introspection.

4. How much memory does your player have? Do you think it is too little, just right or way too much?
1GB, which is good for me for now since I don't currently have much use for an mp3 player other than at the gym. A lot of people knock the Shuffle and Nano, but its flash memory (i.e. no movable parts) really make them ideal for working out, and they're much smaller than a full iPod so it's totally convenient to strap one to your forearm.

5. What two types of music (jazz, pop, country, rap, etc.) do you listen to more than other types?
Probably hip hop and rock (alternative, more specifically, for the most part).

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