The TR Podcast 14: X2s, X3s, and why more is less


Date: Aug 16, 2008

Time: 1:31:28

Hosted by Jordan Drake

Co-Host: Scott Wasson

Guests: Mike Uchima (just brew it!), Jim (farmpuma), Nick (notfred)

Listen now:

Download the episodeMP3M4A

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Show notes

Scott and Jordan hold down the fort in this latest episode of the TR Podcast. Our tech discussion starts with a bang. We talk about the Radeon HD 4870 X2, news from Nvidia, and get a podcast exclusive from Scott: Does three-way Radeon HD 4870 Crossfire perform better, the same, or worse than a regular 4870 X2? The tech doesn’t stop there. Can the Eee desktop make the same stir as its netbook cousin? Who uses a built-in Wacom on a laptop? And how do you back up your ‘gigs of goodies’? The episode finishes with the helpful Nick, Jim, and Mike, who tell us how to do Folding@home.

Send in listener mail, and we’ll answer on the podcast. – jdrake@techreport.com

We’re still looking for a sponsor! Hook us up!. – adam@techreport.com

Listener mail:

1 gig of RAM for the Radeon HD 4870? (0:02:07) – from JMC:

“Waiting for proper cooling to come out -stock- before I buy. But my question is… Has the time for 1 gig of video ram [for the Radeon HD 4870] arrived yet ***or over next year or two***? I keep my cards a year or two and don’t want to be saying, “I sure wish I had spent a little more and gotten the 1 gig model”.”

Tech discussion:

    AMD’s Radeon HD 4870 X2 graphics card (0:07:04)- Read more

    Nvidia GPU failure poll – what’s going on with the G92 and G94? (0:21:04)- Read more

    Nvidia posts $121M loss for second quarter (0:28:13)- Read more

    Nvidia launches big box o’ workstation GPUs (0:33:06)- Read more

    ASUS’s Eee Box B202 small form factor PC (0:37:43)- Read more

    Humongous ThinkPad is a photographer’s dream (0:46:46)- Read more

    How do you back up your gigs of goodies? (0:51:04)- Read more

Forum focus: How to start Folding@home (1:03:57)

That’s all, folks! Check back on August 23 for the next TR podcast.

Comments closed
    • ThorAxe
    • 12 years ago

    Loved the podcast. When is the next one out? I need my fix!

    • d0g_p00p
    • 12 years ago

    Man the 4850 is a perfect example of CF/SLI tech. Awesome cheap cards and great performance. Plus the upgrade (CF) is inexpensive for the increased speed.

    I am saying this because I just picked up a second 4850 and while listening to this podcast I realized (again) just how well DAAMIT pulled off this video card.

    Awesome performance, cheap price and CF a reality without breaking the bank.

    Great podcast BTW guys.

    • Prototyped
    • 12 years ago

    PowerColor already has a 4870 1 GiB announced. [1] ATI’s also announced [2] so-called “Super RV770” based cards that will come with higher clock rates.

    [1] §[<http://www.productwiki.com/powercolor-hd-4870-1gb/<]§ [2] §[<http://www.tomshardware.com/news/ATI-AMD-RV770,5796.html<]§ Re the Eee Box, the appeal is that it's /[http://usa.aopen.com/Products.aspx?id=74<]§ [4] §[<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Intel_Celeron_microprocessors#.22Merom-L.22_.28standard-voltage.2C_65_nm.29<]§ [5] §[<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Intel_Pentium_Dual-Core_microprocessors#.22Merom-1M.22_.2865_nm.29<]§ [6] §[<http://www.norhtec.com/products/index.html<]§ [7] §[<http://weill.org/2007/09/23/how-i-built-an-led-confession-board/<]§ Re backups, just get a cheap NAS device such as D-Link's DNS-343 and be done with it. Those things can even do RAID 5. Stick in four 1 TB drives and use the Memeo software that comes with them. (Myself, I just use an external USB 2.0 drive along with a *[http://www.linuxfocus.org/English/January2004/article321.shtml<]§

    • Rugby Lock
    • 12 years ago

    I couldn’t get past the first couple of segments as the file would just restart….

    • tfp
    • 12 years ago

    Would it be possible to post a transcript for those of us who don’t want to listen in?

    • Saribro
    • 12 years ago

    Those guys working on the folding client… weird decisions…
    So I finally manage to get the Windows SMP client installed and working, to then notice a few oddities. I would have imagined the easiest way to handle multi-cores would be to detect the amount of cores, and run a WU on each (or fewer if so asked in config), sortof like dnetc does. It doesn’t need any difficult thread-coding, scales essentially unlimited, and might make it easy to integrate GPU and CPU cores from the same managing-interface. Instead I find the SMP-client not even bothering to count the cores, just firing up 4 processes. As they are processes, not threads of the same process, I’m apparently in need of an extra service that request web-access to manage these 4 processes to work together. This appears to have come with the added drawback of ~20-25% of CPU-time spent in kernel to handle the processes instead of work being crunched. More points, less science?
    I’m left scratching my head :/…

      • just brew it!
      • 12 years ago

      The sort of projects distributed.net focuses on are fundamentally different from folding. AFAIK all of distributed.net’s projects have involved brute force searches of a large solution space, where all work units are computationally of similar difficulty (both in terms of CPU cycles and memory usage), and no work unit depends on the results of any other work unit. All they need to do is dole out reasonable sized chunks of work to all comers, and collate the results as they come back.

      In contrast to this, individual Folding@home work units vary widely in computational complexity according to the size of the protein molecule being simulated, and the type of simulation being done. Furthermore, WUs are not independent — the nature of subsequent work units can depend on the results returned by previous ones. So for certain projects, getting individual results back as fast as possible helps speed the research process, since it helps them more quickly determine what new WUs they need to send out.

      Given the very different nature of the tasks at hand, it seems to me that comparing Folding@home and distributed.net is comparing apples and oranges. I can see how something like the F@h SMP client has a place along side the simpler single-core client. F@h SMP WUs tend to be larger ones, which take a lot of RAM and CPU cycles to crunch — the sort of thing you’d want to hand off to a faster multi-core system with more RAM. They also put short deadlines and point premiums on them, which encourages people with systems which are on 24×7 to request them, thereby ensuring quicker turnaround of individual WUs.

      Could they have done a better job on the SMP client? Yes, definitely. But comparing them to dnetc is rather unfair IMO, since the nature of the computations being done is different enough that it has a big effect on how the task can be parallelized.

      While I too am frustrated at the slow progress on improving the SMP client, I’m inclined to cut ’em some slack. I’m sure they’ve had their hands full with the PS3 and GPU clients.

    • jackrabbit
    • 12 years ago

    I’ve been watching too much anime/ Naruto. I thought he said “just brew it” ‘s name was “Uchiha”. 😀

    • mattthemuppet
    • 12 years ago

    tried playing it through FF3 while I was designing some primers, but it just sat there buffering for 30min, so eventually gave up. I’m sure there’s some otherway a non-MP3 player owner can listen to it, but I don’t have time to look into it.

      • cygnus1
      • 12 years ago

      working fine in FF3 for me, might be a plugin causing your issue

      • Nitrodist
      • 12 years ago

      Try playing the mp3 on… your… computer.

        • just brew it!
        • 12 years ago

        Umm… he said he tried to play it through FF3 (Firefox 3). Which, last time I checked, generally runs on a computer.

        #25, try right-clicking the link, saving the MP3 to your desktop, and playing it from there instead of trying to play it in the browser.

    • Imperor
    • 12 years ago

    Me and a friend have got an HDD in a magnetically shielded bank-vault…
    That’s safe backup!!!
    OK, costs a little to rent the box but it really is “a little” and Considering the time I have spent building up the collection on the disk it is worth an insane amount of money even discounting the accual value of the content… (Which is a lot in it self).
    Not very accessible and backups are quite far apart but it’d more or less suvive a nuke as well so…
    In other cases, I just put important data on multiple HDDs in my computer, like an archive of “My Documents” on G:. I have lost all HDDs due to virus before but the risk of faliure in more than one drive is still minimal. I do have 5 HDDs with 7 partitions though…

    (We do have a superior electrical system here compared to the US so lightning strikes are an exremely small risk here).

    • flip-mode
    • 12 years ago

    I gave my best effort. Made it about half way through.

    These things are not for me.

    • Pax-UX
    • 12 years ago

    ignore, didn’t click reply

    • clone
    • 12 years ago

    it’s great to cover all of the bases but for me at least this episode was really weak, I didn’t make it past the 40 minute mark.

    I’m sure you guys are looking into optimising your format and such so good luck.

    you might want to take a look at future product spotlighting, will computers come with optical drives or are they near done, hard drive tech eventualities and evidence of such, memory directions, cpu, video, chassis design optimisations and powersupply directions…. also you may want to highlight a system maybe like once every 3 months…. get into a routine for your format, a general direction that may not initially be clear but will show in the long run…… something anyway.

    I wish I could offer constructive criticism but I don’t have any answers to improve what was really a weak episode.

      • ssidbroadcast
      • 12 years ago

      Being a bit hard on them, don’t you think?

      They can’t all be winners. Even Loveline (/[

        • just brew it!
        • 12 years ago

        q[

    • Nitrodist
    • 12 years ago

    The link for farmpuma’s profile is actually notfred’s.

    • GeForce6200
    • 12 years ago

    For the intel people. If they wanted a 4870X3, couldn’t they use 4870X2 and another 4870? Great cast BTW!

      • Damage
      • 12 years ago

      Yeah, that works much better.

      • grantmeaname
      • 12 years ago

      that’s exactly what they did in the text review of the 4870X2

    • wingless
    • 12 years ago

    FYI Jordan:

    The ENTIRE end of the M4A file is corrupted for me. At the end of that Thinkpad W700 discussion it just dies.

      • GodsMadClown
      • 12 years ago

      The MP4 stream just choked in Foobar2000 for me. I didn’t note the play time.

      • jdrake
      • 12 years ago

      Yeah – we hear this occasionally… and I continue to be mystified as to why this happens. I’m going to re-render and re-upload the m4a file and see if that works…. but not sure that’s a long term solution. We’re adding some equipment to the studio over the next few weeks – upgrading our software – and we’ll try to fix this problem permanently.

        • green
        • 12 years ago

        i found it more to be the web-server
        i tend to have to download the m4a/mp3 twice
        the first time it stops short downloading
        for example, this podcast stopped at ~20mb saying it was done
        obviously wasn’t though since the file is ~60mb
        the media player will still show full track time
        but then audio just dies out part way through a sentence
        player keeps tracking like it thinks there’s still data left though
        not sure if it’s the same thing these other people are seeing

        • Pax-UX
        • 12 years ago

        Had to download the file twice from iTune before I got the full eps. First one failed, so I deleted the file and requested it to be downloaded again, it then worked after the second download. I reckon its iTunes- well for my issue anyway.

    • wingless
    • 12 years ago

    FINALLY somebody realizes they can, and probably should, test some of these Crossfire configurations on a PHENOM system. There’s already a 790FX+SB750 board out on Newegg.com that can show us what REAL bandwidth can do.

    Also, where are the 790FX+SB750 reviews? A few of the boards are actually out.

    • Nitrodist
    • 12 years ago

    Maybe we could rename The Tech Report to The Damage Report.

    Hmm, that’s actually a catchy title…

      • ssidbroadcast
      • 12 years ago

      yeah… you don’t read the blog posts much, do you?

        • Nitrodist
        • 12 years ago

        ‘Twas a joke.

      • eitje
      • 12 years ago

      yeah, they should use that somewhere….

      §[<http://www.techreport.com/blogs.x/swasson<]§ ;)

    • ssidbroadcast
    • 12 years ago

    At roughly 10min, 54sec, WTH is that sound? Uncorking bottle?

      • Aphasia
      • 12 years ago

      Same sound as someting 43minutes too. Weird. Sounds like a weird message signal or something.

        • ssidbroadcast
        • 12 years ago

        yeah that’s what I thought but what IM-client uses noises like that?

          • jdrake
          • 12 years ago

          It’s skype – making noises….. usually have a way to turn that off…. but forgot to:-) Because of the way I record the audio – there is no way to remove that noise without removing Scott’s voice.

    • Fastfreak39
    • 12 years ago

    It was great just having a 1v1 chat session there with Jordan and Scott. I got a great feel for CrossfireX and SLI, etc.

    • rodidas
    • 12 years ago

    w00t! Go the Damage Cast.

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