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(expensive, but) mnt pocket-reform (arm 7" mini-laptop)

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--- Quote from: james_s on May 14, 2023, 06:01:35 pm ---Nobody cares what the CPU architecture is provided it does the job and runs the software they want to run.

--- End quote ---

I totally agree. And yet you insist that architecture should be x86.

--- Quote ---Forget consumers for a moment because most of them already ARE using ARM CPUs in their smartphones and tablets, and look at professionals. Solidworks which my friend's business uses requires Windows on x86. Photoshop now supports M1 but until Apple switched it required x86. Altium Designer, requires Windows on x86, If you want to develop for FPGAs you have Vivado, ISE, Quartus, and whatever the Lattice toolset is called, requires x86. These are just a few examples but they are defacto industry standards that are in use all over, and if you want to sell workstations they have to support this stuff.

--- End quote ---

That's weird. Just a few hours ago I was reading messages where you took the exact opposite point of view, that the number of professionals using such tools (or in that case IIRC it was about assembly language and debuggers) is so small that they are irrelevant and they can use whatever they want but it doesn't affect the real computer market.

I don't think you are arguing honestly, but just a troll.

Also, point of order, your honour:

"Photoshop now supports M1 but until Apple switched it required x86."

Photoshop has been around for 36 years and I was using it myself in the 1980s.  It was running on x86 Macs for only 15 of those years.

In fact less, as CS3 with Intel Mac compatibility was released only in April 2007, 15 months after the first mass-production Intel Macs, and almost two years after the Apple Developer Transition Kit (with a Pentium 4) was made available to all registered developers in June 2005 (Adobe probably could get them quite a bit earlier).

Prior to x86, Photoshop of course for the first seven years ran only on the M68k, and then for a dozen years on PowerPC. It was ported to PowerPC (Mac) and x86 (Windows) at around the same time in 1993-1994.

Adobe got Photoshop for Arm Macs out in March 2021, only four months after the first machines went on sale -- a much better effort from them.

I would expect much more porting efforts due to changes in the OS API rather than changes of the underlying CPU ISA, unless the software is written in assembly or using a non-standard language.
Now the transition from 68k to PowerPC was probably more difficult, as it was not uncommon back in the days to resort to various tricks and assembly to get acceptable performance.

These days, unless you're writing an OS, the ISA doesn't matter much as far as porting software goes.


--- Quote from: SiliconWizard on May 26, 2023, 12:37:49 am ---These days, unless you're writing an OS, the ISA doesn't matter much as far as porting software goes.

--- End quote ---

For generic software written in standard C/C++ or similar, I agree.

It's a bit different for media processing software where you want to take as much advantage as possible of whatever SIMD instructions the ISA has -- which is not at all standardised. Even on x86, SSE, AVX, AVX512 are rather different from each other -- not just a register size difference.

Or is it all farmed off to the GPU using OpenCL/CUDA these days? I dunno.

I do know that the FFmpeg list has had a thread the last week or two with support for RISC-V V extension 1.0 being upstreamed.

I expect machines with SVE or RVV and either long registers or else lots of small CPU cores, each with a vector unit, will take a lot of GPGPU work off GPUs in the coming years. They are just so much more tightly integrated with normal scalar code. Both SVE and RVV have the features needed to efficiently run SIMT code using one vector lane per "thread"/"CUDA core" and one CPU core per "warp"/"wavefront". 512-2048 bit vector registers match typical GPU warp sizes. Per-lane predication allows you to implement divergent/convergent control flow.


--- Quote from: SiliconWizard on May 26, 2023, 12:37:49 am ---These days, unless you're writing an OS, the ISA doesn't matter much as far as porting software goes.

--- End quote ---

don't forget "my-c". Currently, it only targets MIPS5++ :D

So, for me, the ISA matters a lot for
- cryptographic extension
- writing an HL language(1)(2)
- ICE support

(1) things like this are insane, anyway insanely interesting, just don't do it (again)!

(2) take advantage of sane and well-made memory barriers, at most supported by specific ISA points, at the limit I'm fine with the fact that in the ISA a special class of load/store is foreseen, rather than letting some botched implementation solutions - then called "weak memory barrier" - put a patch on it

Then, talking about bizarre, what's the point of putting Minix inside an intel On-chip Management Engine?

--- Quote ---Intel CPU On-chip Management Engine Runs on MINIX
by btarunr Nov 6th, 2017

With the transition to multi-core processors, and multi-core processors with integrated core-logic (chipset), the need arose for a low-level SoC embedded into the processor with just enough compute power to make sure all the components you pay for start-up and function as advertised. Enter the Intel ME (management engine). This is a full-fledged computer within your Intel processor, which isn't exposed to you. It runs on its very own tiny x86 CPU core that isn't exposed, and its software is driven on an infinitesimally small ROM and RAM. Since you can't have software without some sort of operating-system, Intel chose MINIX for the job.

MINIX is a Unix-like OS with an extremely small memory footprint. The OS was designed by Andrew Tanenbaum, originally as an educational tool to demonstrate that machines can still be built with extremely tiny code. If you're familiar with the "ring-level" system of hardware-access privilege by software, ring 0 would designate the "highest" level of access. A software with ring 0 access can erase your disk, flash your system BIOS, and even make your CPU run at any C-state. The OS kernel needs these privileges, and hence is a ring 0 software. Most user software, like the web-browser you're reading this on, runs at ring 3 (with the browser's own sandbox, the user-level, and API level forming inner levels). Intel ME runs at ring -3 (negative 3), and your OS has no power over it. Most system BIOS updates for Intel motherboards include a ROM update for ME. ME governs the functioning of the rest of the processor, its start-up, and booting. It also governs silicon-level security and management features that can't be compromised by malware.

--- End quote ---

An Open Letter to Intel, Dr. Tanenbaum.

Allwinner does something similar and with a rather buggy OR-core to manage their ARM SoC(1).
But at least it's documented, you know it's there, and you can entirely disable it!

(1) e.g. I patched u-boot to disable the OR-core in my NeoPI platform


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