Tag: RAM

Chrome will suck less RAM

SheepGoogle has announced that it has finally sorted out Chrome’s tendancy to suck up RAM as efficiently as a Dyson vacuum when visiting javascript heavy sites.

The search engine outfit said that it will roll out an update on December 6 that will slash the amount of RAM Chrome uses by up to half.

By using less RAM, Chrome will let keep more open tabs and run more apps without slowing down your computer as much.

It could also help if your computer is on the low-end in terms of memory, which ranges from four gigabytes and below.

Chrome 55 will include an upgraded JavaScript engine which requires less RAM to work. Given that many modern websites thrive on JavaScript, this should lead to some dramatic improvements.  Google says it has a few other ideas in mind which will also speed up Chrome and should make an appearance in future versions.

Memory maker Micron does well

BN-JJ273_0713MI_P_20150713201819The cocaine nose jobs of Wall Street have emerged screaming from their marble-tiled toilets in shock after it emerged that the memory chip maker Micron had done better than expected.

Micron Technology reported a lower than expected fall in quarterly revenue and that industry breathed a shy of relief. The company’s shares rose as much 8.3 percent.

The company predicted a revenue of $3.35 billion-$3.6 billion for the current quarter, well below analysts’ average expectation of $3.73 billion.

But the DRAM and NAND flash maker reported a 14.8 percent fall in revenue to $3.60 billion in the fourth quarter, compared with a year earlier. Analysts thought that would be $3.55 billion.

Micron said it expects the demand environment to stabilise and improve in 2016.

Micron said net income attributable to the company fell 59 percent to $471 million. Excluding items, the company earned 37 cents per share, trumping analysts’ estimates of 32 cents per share.

Micron is currently being chased by China’s state-backed Tsinghua Unigroup. This little rally might make the company a little more expensive.

Tsinghua, whose unit bought a 15 percent stake in Western Digital Corp for $3.8 billion on Wednesday, has offered $23 billion for Micron. It has not heard back yet because the US is unlikely to want to let one of its companies be owned by a company it thinks will spy on it. Oddly enough, the only country to force its hardware companies to spy on rival governments has been the US.

U2 drained US air traffic control of its memory

Last week’s terrifying incident where the Los Angeles Air Traffic control shut down when an U2 spy plane flew overhead was the result of a memory problem and it could have happened anywhere in the US.

In fact those looking into the incident claim that the same vulnerability could have been used by an attacker in a deliberate shut-down.

The error blanked out a broad swath of the southwestern United States, from the West Coast to western Arizona and from southern Nevada to the Mexico border.

It cost the US more than $2.4 billion to build the Air Traffic Control system, which was  made by Lockheed Martin. Apparently the system had a lack of altitude information in the U-2’s flight plan and caused a memory overload. The FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said the computer had to examine a large number of air routes to “de-conflict the aircraft with lower-altitude flights and the system just did not have the RAM for it.

The FAA later set the system to require altitudes for every flight plan and added memory to the system, which should prevent such problems in the future, Brown said.

When the system went out, air traffic controllers working in the regional centre switched to a back-up system so they could see the planes on their screens and reverted to pen and paper for communications to other control centres.

Apparently the ERAM system failed because it limits how much data each plane can send it, according to the sources. Most planes have simple flight plans, so they do not exceed that limit. But the U2 had a complex flight plan that put it close to the system’s limit, the sources said.

For example the flight plan showed the plane going in and out of the Los Angeles control area multiple times, not a simple point-to-point route like most flights, they said. The conflict generated error messages and caused the system to begin cycling through restarts.

What is worrying is that the same gear is used in other airports so it could happen there at any time. The problem could also, with some difficultly, be created by a hacker.

Security experts said that from the description by insiders, the failure appeared to have been made possible by the sort of routine programming mistake that should have been identified in testing before it was deployed. The FAA said that a fix was being rolled out.

Industry gears up for RAM shortage

It is starting to look like the IT industry will face a serious RAM chip shortage.

Despite the fact that Samsung spent about $24 billion in the past two years beefing up the world’s biggest maker of memory chips to meet demand, there is still not enough capacity.

The problem is that even with the downturn, there are still shedloads of smartphones and other mobile toys that need piles of mobile DRAM.

As an indication how bad things are getting, Samsung is looking at sourcing some of its chips from Hynix for the first time.

Hynix is probably relieved as Apple, which was among its biggest customers, has been pulling back lately.

Bloomberg warned that there is fast becoming a supply squeeze for all memory chips for mobile devices and things are only going to get worse in the second half of the year when the world+dog starts pushing their latest smartphones.

Samsung is to release a new smartphone using its own Tizen operating system and an updated version of the Galaxy Note device. Apple usually releases details of a new handset.

What is particularly annoying is that the rising demand for mobile chips follows a glut in production of the type of DRAM used in personal computers – that saw prices slump and drove some producers to the wall.

Between 2008 and 2012 Hynix, Micron, Nanya, Powerchip and other Samsung rivals lost a combined $21 billion.

Some Taiwanese makers quit the business and Elpida was forced to seek protection from creditors before Micron agreed to buy it last year.

All the indicators were predicting that things would slow down even further, so this sudden shortage has caught everyone on the hop.

Benchmark 2Gb, 1333Mhz DRAM chips have more than doubled to $1.69 since the end of November, according to TrendForce Corp.’s DRAMeXchange. 

Samsung mulls Hynix DRAM

It looks like Hynix will recover from Apple’s falling iPhone sales by selling its DRAM to Cupertino’s arch enemy, Samsung.

J.K. Shin, head of Samsung’s mobile business told Reuters that his outfit was considering purchasing mobile memory chips from rival Hynix for future products including its new flagship Galaxy S smartphone to be launched this month.

If this happens Hynix can breathe a sigh of relief, the company’s bottom line had been suffering after it had been announced that Apple was cancelling orders after the iPhone 5 did not do as well as expected.

Hynix relied heavily on Apple as a customer for its DRAM, but after the rush for Apple toys began to slow down, the company started to suffer.

Prices of mobile DRAM chips have increased steadily since early this year as the supply has started to be tightened.

What is odd about this is that Samsung makes its own DRAM chips and depended on internal supplies of memory chips for its Galaxy range of smartphones.

It seems that it has started looking to outside chip suppliers to ensure no supply disruptions for key models of its Galaxy S smartphone.

The Galaxy S4, which will go on sale later this month, is expected to outsell its predecessors, with monthly sales of about 10 million. 

Flagship iMac too inflexible to be of use

Apple fanboys often justify the fact that they have to sell a kidney to afford a flagship iMac on the grounds that you get quality when you spend that sort of cash.

Of course, quality implies that the machinery will be around for a few years to justify that level of expenditure.

However, Apple’s latest 21.5-inch iMac is increasingly looking more useless. We already reported on how Apple was refusing to allow users to upgrade RAM on the beast, but now it looks like things are a little worse.

According to Ars Technica, Apple is preventing customers from installing a third-party solid state disk. In its base $1,299 configuration, the 21.5-inch iMac comes with no SSD and no build-to-order storage add-ons; even the $1,499 model only has the option to add a 128GB SSD as part of Fusion Drive, which marries the SSD to the system’s 1TB spinning hard disk drive to create a single volume.

In other words no SSD-only option exists, and you can’t add a standalone SSD.

For years now the more computer savvy Apple fans have been mounting their own SSDs somewhere inside the case. Apple has removed the SSD connector to make sure that they don’t.

The logic board reveals no spare SATA ports anywhere and the SATA connector used for the iMac’s 2.5-inch hard disk drive is the only one present.

Apple hinted that the new iMac would be as flexible as a Bible Belt tea-party member by gluing everything that moves with strong adhesive.

The question really is, do you want to spend that sort of money for something you cannot actually upgrade in a year’s time?

iFixit: iMac an "exercise in disappointment"

iFixit has rubbished the new 21.5-inch iMac, calling servicing the computer “an exercise in disappointment”.

The iFixit gave the iMac a repair score of 3 out of a possible 10, urging people to use the 2011 model instead.

Miroslav Djuric, iFixit’s chief information architect, said that the computer was impossible to use if you would like to alter your machine in any way.

The site said that Apple’s policy of refusing to let users even change the RAM was out of control.

In June, iFixit called the 15-in. MacBook Pro the least-repairable laptop the website had taken apart, but the new one took the cake.

Apple had poured tons of “incredibly strong” adhesive to the LCD and front glass panel to the frame. In the past, iMacs fixed the display in place with magnets because it made the screens harder to replace.

The 21.5-in. iMac comes standard with 8GB of memory and in theory can be upgraded to 16GB. But because the design genuises at Apple buried the RAM beneath the logic board, owners must take apart most of the iMac just to gain access.

This move is a kick in the nadgers to all those within the pubishing industry who use iMacs. The extra RAM is important for using large graphics heavy documents.

Apple knows this. It has helpfully buried a compent in the user manual which says that it was important to upgrade at the time of purchase, because memory cannot be upgraded later in this model.

The reason Apple has done this is because it makes a fortune stinging users for over priced memory upgrades. Upgrading to 32GB can cost up to $600 which is a long way below third party upgrades. Apple users with less money than sense have been buying lower spec machines and upgrading using third party kits.

What is clear is that Apple is no longer just making more money from iMac users by charging them over the odds for their machines. By preventing them from upgrading it is forcing users to buy new machines when the spec of their old one becomes inconvient. Given that a new iMac costs between $1,299 and $1,999 this is fairly rude. $2,000 can buy a much better quality PC which can also be upgraded. 

Farmers don't need broadband

The Labour Party’s knowledge of farming appears to be on a par with its information about technology.

Graham Jones, MP for Haslingden and Hyndburn, hit the headlines over the weekend with his claims that rural broadband funding should be spent elsewhere because “farming has existed without the internet for eternity.”

He suggested public funding for faster broadband in rural Lancashire would be better spent in “industrial areas where the benefits would have been far greater”.

Jones said that Lancashire County Council and Lancashire LEP were currently spending some £32 million on super fast rural broadband.

But it was difficult to see how the investment would create jobs, he added.

Writing in his bog, Jones said that demographics suggest that upgrading from broadband to superfast broadband will not bring jobs, the geography does too.

Broadband was only useful for new businesses that are media intensive, have no product to shift and don’t meet clients, but the question is, how many will fit that category?

He added that even with superfast broadband, factories were not going to locate down miles of country lanes where they couldn’t get planning permission and access was prohibitive.

Rural people were not going to get better connections.

He added that  mobile devices and 4G will be of greater significance than landline superfast rural broadband.  The same argument could apply to government, but how many politicians have been sticking their paws up for free iPads?

Jones, however, sees it all as a class thing. Lancashire’s rural population is a playground for the wealthy and that’s the problem.

Needless to say, in a statement, the  Countryside Alliance described the comments as “criminal”. In a digital age, the need for fast and reliable broadband was just as important as the need for gas, electricity and water, it added.

Jones did not understand how in the 1990s farmers were among the first to get their businesses online and now have about 90 per cent of their administration online.

In the 1990s, the National Farmers Union set up an ISP for farmers and spend a lot of time and money making sure they understood that requiring four RAM to run was not a livestock requirement.

We doubt that Jones would lose much sleep over the roasting has he has received from farmers. The day a farmer votes for anyone who is not a Conservative is the day that the  death of the universe prevents a farmer from collecting his EU subsidies.

* Update: Since we wrote this, Jones’ post has mysteriously disappeared. We guess the Labour Party Central office is still hoping that the countryside voters will get hacked off that the Tory party is taking them out of the EU, and away from their salary meal tickets. 

Elpida down but not out

Despite the fact that it is bankrupt, Japanese chipmaker Elpida claims that it is down but not out.

According to the Japan Times, Elpida plans to craft a restructuring plan by April which could allow it to continue in a reduced form.

After a meeting with the company’s creditors, President Yukio Sakamoto, said that Elpida will choose a sponsor soon to help rebuild Japan’s sole manufacturer of dynamic random-access memory chips used in personal computers and other devices

More than 800 people who are owed money by Elpida were at the meeting. Sakamoto said sorry for the failure while informing them that several companies have offered to help Elpida.

He did not name the companies who might pull Elpida’s nadgers out of the fire, but they appear to include the US chip-maker Micron and Taiwan’s Nanya.

But despite this help, the people at the meeting were not so certain that the company would be able to agree who would be the best help to take.

Other creditors are more concerned about getting their money back rather than any rescue deal and they might press for assets to be sold off to the highest bidder.

Certainly a restructured Elpida would still have a problem taking on the fierce competition and over supply in the DRAM industry. Particularly when the industry is tipped to stabilise itself thanks to Elpida’s troubles.

Venray combines CPU and RAM

Designers at CPU outfit Venray Technology have emerged from their drawing board having come up with a chip that combines a CPU and DRAM.

The outfit claims that that there are shedloads of performance benefits by combining CPU and DRAM on to a single piece of silicon.

According to Hot Hardware who appears to have been giving Venray’s CTO Russell Fish a chinese burn until he spills the beans about the TOMI (Thread Optimized Multiprocessor) the idea is interesting, but barking.

The idea is supposed to solve a problem of scaling in modern microprocessors. This is caused by a gap between the CPU and DRAM clock speed and Instruction Level Parallelism which creates difficulty of decoding enough instructions per clock cycle to keep a core completely busy. Lastly, there is the problem that the faster a CPU is and the more cores it has, the more power it consumes.

TOMI attempts to fix he problem by using the same transistor structures as conventional DRAM and by trading clock speed and performance for ultra-low low leakage. Its design only uses a 22,000 transistor design, as compared to 30,000 transistors for the original ARM2.

Instead of surrounding a CPU core with a substantial amount of L2 and L3 cache, Venray stuck a CPU core directly into a DRAM design. So a TOMI Borealis core connects eight TOMI cores to a 1Gbit DRAM with a total of 16 ICs per 2GB DIMM.

This gives each DIMM 128 processor cores which are so small, such cores cost very little to build and consume only 23mW per core at 500MHz.

Hot Hardware seems to think that it is all too good to be true. It points out that Venray may have created a chip with power consumption an order of magnitude lower than anything ARM builds and more memory bandwidth than Intel’s highest-end Xeons, but it’s an ultra-specialised, ultra-lightweight core that ignores 25 years of flexibility to get more memory bandwidth.