Dear reader. Please understand that I am only writing this blog to make people more aware of the technical nature of the topic and spur some meaningful discussion. My statements here deal with operating system intrinsic and design. If you do not possess the core knowledge and fundamentals about the working and design of operating systems, you may still continue to read and ask questions. Meaningless, stupid, unintelligent comments/sarcasms/statements will be ignored. Moreover, you will be insulting yourself with such actions. I do not accept responsibility for any effects, adverse or otherwise, that this blog may have on you, your devices, your sanity, your dog, and anything else that you can think of. Read it at your own risk. Now with that off my chest, let's begin…
Enough rants for today. I might update the blog with additional stuff as and when they cross my mind. In the meantime, you may put your comments below.
After my 2 year old son dropped my Inspiron 1520 from the bed, the system had to go though an extensive makeover. The bottom plastics, palmrest, speakers, hinge cover and hinges were all replaced. Thanks to the Dell Complete Care warranty. The onsite technician was at my house the very next day I contacted Dell about the issue. Excellent service by Dell! The service also happened to be the last one for the 3 year warranty that I had on the system. One week from then the warranty expired. The system worked well after the service. About 3 months from the incident, my laptop developed a strange problem. The system would work well if it was sitting in one place. If I touched or moved the system, it would either restart or freeze. As the notebook was already out of warranty, there was nothing much that Dell could do. This also happened to be a hardware issue and troubleshooting software made no sense. The problem became worse when the system started to shutdown and freeze more frequently. This continued till the point where the system was completely unusable. The system would give random blue screens and PSA diagnoctics would either pass or give ramdom error messages.
After trying all possible troubleshooting, I came to a conclusion that something was wrong with the motherboard. Then the inevitable happened. The system completely died. Pressing the power button would just make all the lights flash with nothing on the screen. Then, one stormy weekend night after making myself a glass of Cuba Libre, I decided to check the system for one final time before "putting it down".
I disassembled the system. It was a cakewalk. In the picture above you can see the various components.
After removing the video card I found this (see the picture above). Observe how the soldering came loose. I am sure this has to be a result of the drop and the close proximity of the component to the video card. The heat from the video card might have made the soldering to become brittle and eventually snap.
I have a fully working system now. In fact, I posted this blog from the same system. :)
I seem to be on a Video BIOS flashing spree. First my Radeon HD4670, and now my GeForce 8600M GT. Well, I thought of breathing new life to my ageing Dell Inspiron 1520 and here is what I accomplished...
I downloaded an overclocked version of the NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT BIOS from techPowerUp. After a few hours of research I came to a conclusion that 590 MHz core clock and 490 MHz memory clock should be stable on this system. For some strange reason Dell used DDR2 memory for the video cards on the Inspiron 1520 which severely bottlenecks the performance. Overclocking the memory and the GPU can do wonders. I downloaded the Windows version of the NVFlash tool from techPowerUp and flashed the OCed video BIOS. Below are some screenshots of GPU-Z and Windows Experience Index. Notice how the subscores for graphics has changed. :)
Permanently overclocked my Sapphire ATI Radeon HD4670! How? Ripped the video BIOS using GPU-Z. Downloaded a factory OCed BIOS for a Sapphire HD4670 (Core Clock 775 MHz, RAM Clock 1000 MHz) from techPowerUp. Opened both BIOSes using RBE (Radeon BIOS Editor) and copied over the original BIOS identifier to the downloaded one. Adjusted fan speed setting in the new BIOS to linearly scale with the temperature. 0 C : 0% speed - 100 C : 100% speed. Save the new BIOS and flashed it using ATIFlash. Restarted system. Result: Old GPU Core Clock = 750 MHz, New GPU Core Clock = 775 MHz. No overclocking software required. Damn thing overclocked in hardware! Did not stop there though. Enabled AMD OverDrive in CCC and set the damn thing to auto-tune. Turns out, the card is stable at CC of 790 MHz and RC of 1130 MHz. Finally called it a day!
Okay. This one was long overdue. I know I am lazy! Well, here it is... I bought this system somewhere during 2008. I have'nt had any major issues with the system apart from 2 hard drive and 1 optical drive failures. I'll give the benifit of the doubt to Dell here as both of these are mechanical parts and are subject to wear and tear. Anyways, lets start with the processor, memory and motherboard first.
Most of my R&D happens on this system now as I have given up my old P4 system. Let's take a look at the system graphics department. Shall we?
Okay. That is the NVIDIA GeForce 8600M GT. Couple of things that you want to take note here is that the video memory is standard DDR2 running at 400 MHz. This is something that Dell should not have done as it really hurts the GPUs performance and become a bottleneck. Nevertheless, the system can easily pull off games like TrackMania Sunrise Extreme at max settings (without AA). My system was ordered with an LCD panel running at 1440x900. So things look kinda nice. I ran Windows Vista Ultimate x64 on this for a while and switched to Windows 7 Ultimate x64 (beta, RC, RTM... as and when it became available).
As always, I use 64-bit operating systems only. This is the only way you can use the full potential of your x86_64 processors "long mode" performance improvements.
As you can see, this system get a Windows Experience Index of 4.7. Which is not bad at all. The bottleneck here is the hard drive. Which is pretty obvious as it runs at 5400 RPM only. Below are some more interesting stuff.
Well, that's all there is to it. Next up is my custom made all AMD desktop, where I do most of my grunt work. Hopefully, this will be sooner than you think. :)
Okay. This is a custom assembled system that I assembled years ago. It looks pretty decent... black being the consitent color all over. Lets see what we have here. Lets look at the processor, motherboard and memory details first.
Ah. The trusty old NVIDIA GeForce 7300 GT. Outdated you say? It sure is! Who cares. But it still works. Now lets look at the "other stuff".
Many people don't know it, but today's PCs--including the system you're using right now--contain elements that have hardly changed at all in the last 20 years. Yes, CPUs are faster, hard drives are bigger, and RAM banks are larger. But in many fundamental ways, your PC isn't very different from the PCs of two decades ago.
Although some of the system elements have been modified over time, almost everything in your PC is a direct lineal descendent of the IBM PC AT--a seminal design that still shapes PC architecture two decades later.
In many ways, the PC's hardware consistency over time has been a good thing, a stabilizing force in the otherwise rapidly changing world of computing. It's been a huge positive for businesses and users because this consistency has made many peripherals completely interchangeable. For decades, we've been able to mix and match printers, keyboards, mice, monitors, scanners, modems, and more, largely without regard to the brand of PC.
Hardware standardization also has helped the bottom line by driving down prices: System and peripheral vendors have had a vast and uniform market from which to draw supplies, and to which to sell products, resulting in the commodity-level pricing that's behind today's amazingly low hardware costs. Overall, the PC AT's legacy has been an enormously positive one.
But it also has had a downside, principally in retarding innovation and slowing hardware advancements. The installed base--that is, the mass of existing, older, in-use hardware--acts like a giant speed brake on the computer industry because businesses and users are loath to give up older equipment that's still functional, even if newer designs would perform better or faster. As a result, new technologies tend to emerge piecemeal and more slowly than they would if hardware vendors could make a clean break with the past.
There's even a joke that made the rounds of the computing industry awhile ago: "Why was God able to create the universe in only seven days? Because he didn't have an installed base to deal with."
Despite this backward drag from the installed base, the Grail of many hardware engineers has long been a totally "legacy free" PC that can employ only fully modern, state-of-the-art, high-speed components and architectures. Such a PC would be faster, more compact, more reliable, and less expensive, as well as easier to manufacture and maintain.
- Fred Langa
The IBM PC shipped in 1981 -- over twenty years ago. The PC offered various expansion capabilities, including a parallel port, a pair of serial ports (on a separate card), and a keyboard port. It also supported a 5.25" 160KB single-sided floppy disk. The 8-bit PC/XT bus slots were expanded to 16-bit ISA slots in the PC/AT in late 1984. Later, IBM shipped the PS/2, whose enduring legacy in the PC universe today is a pair of compact connectors for the keyboard and mouse, and the 3.5" 1.44MB floppy drive.
Recently, I dug out an old Northgate Omnikey keyboard that's been gathering dust in my storage area. It's at least ten years old. I plugged in a PC-to-PS/2 keyboard adapter. It still works. This type of backwards compatibility has been the great strength of the PC over the years, but it's rapidly becoming an Achilles heel. Various factors have kept these anachronisms in place, such as corporate IT shops that need to support parallel and serial ports, or users with a pile of floppies that contain valuable data. We've even seen an ISA slots in a few new systems. And no doubt the Super I/O chip is still using ISA signaling to support legacy I/O.
So it's no surprise that a company like Apple Computers can push interesting new technologies into their hardware and software more quickly than PC manufacturers. But the buzz over the "legacy free" PCs is starting to heat up. It began several years ago, with both Intel and Microsoft encouraging PC makers to move away from legacy connections. Back then, the pleas fell mostly on deaf ears, but it's beginning to look like the industry is ready. Dell is starting to ship USB keyboards, Gateway will pay you to delete the floppy drive, and at least one component company -- ABIT -- is shipping a line of "legacy-free" motherboards.
What do we mean by "legacy" here? Specifically, we're talking about a set of I/O options that have been part of the PC architecture for a long, long time.
If you look at "legacy-free" meaning a system that eliminates the entire kit and caboodle of this table, then we're still several years out. PCI and AGP will be around for at least two more years before PCI Express surfaces in force. Even then, don't expect systems to get rid of PCI slots anytime soon. Parallel IDE hard drives will probably be around for a couple more years, but will gradually give way to Serial ATA. Similarly, parallel SCSI will yield to serial-attached SCSI.
Actually, we shouldn't forget that the VGA port is also a legacy standard. In fact, VGA hardware is the only remaining piece of hardware that interacts directly with Windows. There is a move afoot to eliminate VGA, called the Universal Graphics Adapter or "UGA". The firmware-based UGA functionality will be accessible via a UGA driver built into the next version of Windows, codenamed Longhorn. If the graphics chip makers consider removing VGA at that time, we could be completely legacy-free.
- Loyd Case
Did you know that the latest Intel Macs are actually "Legacy Free PCs"? In case you do not believe me, do a Google search for any Intel Mac's hardware specifications.
Why a Legacy Free PC?
Three words... simplicity, stability and evolution.
How can we define Legacy Free PCs now? Here is an overview:
Must Not Have
Floppy Disk Controller
Indeed, as system designers are freed of the constraints of the past, we'll likely see radical PC designs that will not only be faster, smaller, and better than today's designs, but that will make the traditional beige-box PC seem positively antiquated. And I, for one, can't wait!
Legacy Mode: Legacy mode is what the processor defaults to in basic 32-bit software. If you run a 32-bit Linux or Windows installation you’ve been running in legacy mode; if you’ve looked at any performance benchmarks it should be obvious that not only is the AMD Athlon™ 64 processor more than happy to run this way, it delivers excellent performance while doing so.
Compatibility Mode: Compatibility mode is designed for a 64-bit processor that still needs the capability to run 32-bit applications. The AMD Athlon 64 processor is capable of this natively, which eliminates the need for 32-bit emulation on the hardware level.
Long Mode: True 64-bit Long Mode is intended for a native 64-bit OS environment where the application is also running 64-bit. Windows XP Professional x64 Edition is capable of using both modes, and the AMD Athlon 64 processor is capable of switching between 64-bit Long Mode and Compatibility mode from within the 64-bit OS.
Why Move to 64-bit?
If 32-bit systems offer excellent performance now, why move to a 64-bit OS at all? It’s a question with a multi-faceted answer, depending on your needs.
Increased Memory Addressing: Standard 32-bit computers have a 4 GB limit on addressable memory. 64-bit computing offers a memory address limitation measured in exabytes that will open this potential bottleneck for years to come.
Increased Computational Power: The AMD Athlon™ 64 processor adds an additional eight General Purpose Registers and eight 128-bit streaming SIMD extension (SSE) registers. Using a 64-bit OS opens these for application-usage for the first time. Increasing the raw computation capability of the processor in turn opens the door to increased visual detail in games, unprecedented scientific modeling, and stronger performance across a wide range of applications.
No Performance Penalty for Running in 32-bit: Unlike computer platforms that emulate 32-bit or x86 compatibility, AMD64 architecture can execute such commands natively. The advantage to this is that even legacy 32-bit code is delivered with no performance penalty. When running in a 64-bit OS, Microsoft’s WoW (Windows on Windows) 64 mode allows the chip to natively access programs; in a 32-bit OS such as Windows XP (standard), no such operating mode is needed. This is in direct contrast to other 64-bit designs, which require emulation (and take a massive performance penalty for executing 32-bit x86 operations).
Moving to 64-bit will not universally improve performance in all applications and test suites, but it won’t degrade performance either. This logically translates into a scenario where the “worst case” possibility is performance equality, and the best-case is a significant performance boost. For end-user, corporation, or major business server, this is a universal win.
This information was taken from a document on http://www.amd.com