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Posts filtered by tag: FAQ

Bits and Bytes - WTF is it?

I'm seeing it over and over again, people just don't know the difference between certain technical units.
So here's a short explanation of this stuff.

Bits and Bytes

1 bit = a binary digit (just a zero or a one)
1 byte = how many bits it takes to form a character (depends on encoding but in today's use it's mainly 8 bits)

1kb = 1 kilobit = 1'000 bits (yes, not 1'024!)
1kB = 1 kilobyte = 1'000 bytes = 8'000 bits.

So if e.g. your ISP is promising 50Mbit/s this means:
50Mbit/s (megabits per second) ≠ 50MB/s (megabytes per second).
50Mbit/s = (50/8)MB/s = 6.25MB/s

Kilo and Kibi

1 kilo = 1'000 (like in kilogram, kilometer,...) [normal SI-unit]
1 kibi = 2^10 = 1'024. [IEC-unit]

Going further we have
1 mega = 1 million vs. 1 mebi = 2^20
1 giga = 1 billion vs. 1 gibi = 2^30
1 tera = 1 trillion vs. 1 tebi = 2^40

Even though byte is not one of the SI-units you should strictly use 1'000 for kilo.
And just because everybody’s doing it wrong it doesn’t mean you have to do so too :)


DPI [dots per (square-)inch] is mainly used in print, because (inkjet) printers spray dots in irregular distances onto the paper and DPI means how many dots the printer could spray in one square-inch.

PPI [pixels per (square-)inch] is used everywhere you have a screen, because on a screen the pixels do have a fixed and regular position and distance.

If you use DPI with screens you would have to count all of the subpixels too.
On a normal RGB-style screen this would mean that DPI = 3 * PPI.

written by: Takashi Yoshi
Tags: FAQ

The history of x86 and why I'd like to stick with my G5.

I often get looked askanced and involved in always the same discussion when I start talking about my G5 or laugh at people that are using x86 ;)
And usually I always have to explain the same things over and over and over again which gets kinda annoying by time.
So I decided to write this blog post and provide a little FAQ on PowerPC.

Q1: PowerPC is dead!
A: Nope, it isn't at all. IBM just released the PowerPC A2 and is already working on the Power8.
Freescale's in the process of releasing their e6500 core.

Just because Apple switched to Intel it doesn't mean that the whole architecture is dead.
The only thing that happened because of this switch is that PowerPC lost almost the complete desktop/workstation market, except for the Amiga's of course.
IBM stopped the production of their PowerStations shortly after, too.

Q2: PowerPC is slow.
A: The feel of speed usually is very subjective, but if PowerPC (which is only an architecture) was slow by design, I don't think that the PPCA2 powered 4 of the 10 fastest super computers in the world (2 of them placed in top 3).
All three major gaming consoles (namely Sony's PlayStation 3, Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Nintendo's Wii U) are based on PowerPC processors, too.

Q3: If speed wasn't the reason, why did Apple switch to Intel then?
A: Nobody knows. The only thing I can do is to guess.
Probably they did it because of the price and lazyness.
If Apple chose Intel they could just use the same processors as the whole industry does and they don't have to to do hardly any developpment anymore.
Steve said in 2005 that they've been building all major OSX versions for Intel so I assume that Steve wanted to migrate Apple to Intel from the day he went back to Apple.
He, maybe, hasn't seen any advantage for the consumer by buying a better processor.

Nope, it's not been because of speed or notebooks.
If Apple wanted they could have used a dual-core PowerPC processor from Freescale for their PowerBooks.
Fitting the G5 into a notebook was an impossible project I think and they must've known it.
They don't use Xeon processors for MacBooks, either.

Q4: Why is PowerPC so much better than x86?
A: Because it's a much more modern architecture which has been build from the earlier beginnings for 64-bit.
The development of PowerPC has begun in the late 80s while x86 is based on designs from the early 70s.
IBM's goal with POWER's always been to achieve the best possible performance while Intel's goal was to sell as much as possible.

Just a bit of Intel history:
So there's been the Intel 8086, a 16-bit processor with 16-bit data bus and everything else needed.
But no one wanted it because it was not possible to connect legacy 8-bit peripherals to it.
So Intel built the 8088, the little brother of the 8086. It's a 16-bit processor, too, but it only features an 8-bit data bus etc. - 8-bit? GREAT! And it sold like crazy.
Even IBM built the IBM PC on top of the 8088 (whose design was partly based on the 8080's; 8080, you remember? The chip inside of the Altair in the 70s).
And there we are. Microsoft had their BASIC running on the Altair and they were now working together with IBM to get their products onto the IBM PC.
You can now imagine how the history advanced.
Microsoft continued building for IBM, on the x86 series in the future, met Apple who wanted an office suite for their 32-bit Macintosh, they wanted a graphical office suite, too, so they built Windows to place it on top of DOS, suspended competition, got market leader and now everyone uses x86 because, well, Windows runs on it.

Sorry if I have to disappoint you but x86 is not 99% market leader because it's so great, rather because it's so bad and cheap.
I hope I have not destroyed too many worlds ;-)

Just one more fact:
For accomplishing the 16-bit to 32-bit and 32-bit to 64-bit transition, Intel just extended the width of the registers and gave them a new name so that longer memory addresses fit into them.

Q5: If you don't like Intel, just take an AMD.
A: Well, basically AMD is the same stuff as Intel. AMD just licensed the designs from Intel so that if Intel went bankrupt or had production problems AMD survived.

Q6: But don't we have a monopoly then?
A: In my opinion we have, yes, or we at least have a duopoly. Both of them are not good for the market.

Q7: PowerPC's consume much too much power.
A: I think 65W for a 17-core 2.3GHz processor is quite good.

To conclude:
There are basically 3 reasons for me to stay with my PowerPC as long as possible:

  1. To be different.
  2. Not to support the survival of the cheapest.
  3. It does what I want it for, I don?t see any reason to buy a new computer as long as this one has enough performance.

written by: Takashi Yoshi
Tags: PowerPC, FAQ
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