When is a 4 core CPU a 2 core CPU?

When using all 4 cores at once causes it to overheat and shut down…

Yes, I know, hardly anyone runs all the computer cores at full rated capacity all the time. But…

Some folks do, and to have a machine advertized at being a speed, when it can only do that for a little while, is a flat out lie.

So what has my panties in a bunch?

A couple of times, but not too often, my computer had gone into hibernation “unexpectedly”. I figured I had jiggled the “closing laptop lid” switch or something; though did notice that a couple were when the exhaust port / bottom of the computer were a bit warmer than usual. OK, use better habits in how the thing is placed on a desk instead of on a quilt… or something…

So now I’m in a far away place, using the proper writing desk in the hotel room, and I find out why it shuts down unexpectedly. It isn’t me, or the quilt, or anything else. It’s a computer than can’t walk and chew gum at the same time if that means using all the CPU cores at once.

A check showed that the HP Forum has the story too, and with an HP Tech trying to be helpful, in that annoying not quite helpful “due to not acknowledging they have a problem” kind of way.

http://h30434.www3.hp.com/t5/Notebook-Operating-Systems-e-g-Windows-8-and-Software/computer-randomly-shuts-off-on-pavilion-g6/td-p/1457643

What brought this about was a long trail of technical interest, that I’ll relate in short form below. But suffice it to say that I’d decided to run the Litecoin code. Litecoin is a Bitcoin analog. Similar code and similar idea, slightly different technically. It is still in the ‘early days’ of “mining” coins, so reasonably easy to do. (Bitcoin is now hard enough to only be ‘worth it’ with dedicated special hardware). So I figured “I’ve got a computer just sitting here in the hotel room, with free power, why not let it mine Litecoins?” If they ever have a value, I can trade them for something… (Presently trading at about $4 each I think.)

So I installed it. Fired it up. Ran fine for hours (downloading the list of ‘blocks’ that have already been processed / mined). A CPU light, network limited, task. Then I started “mining”. This is a CPU intensive search for a short hash value for a given block. I’ve got the CPU monitor running. I see all four cores go to 100%. Nice. 2700 range of “hashes per second” is not too shabby. Then my machine goes into hibernation. (i.e. shuts down to ‘sleep’ mode). Repeat a few times. Stop mining and leave the CPUs at nearly idle? No problem.

Basically, you can run the 4 cores of the CPU at 100% for about 1 to 2 minutes, then the thing is overheated and goes to sleep.

I’d guess that the “duty cycle” is about 50%. This is basically a 2 core at a time box.

Sigh.

Did HP think nobody would notice? Do they not have a QA department that actually stress tests things? With an “overheat” problem in a 72 F air conditioned room, what will happen on a 100 F job site? (Forget it if at 120 F+ places… )

Dear HP:

Laptops are mobile devices that go to all sorts of hot places to be used. Like vehicles in the sun. Buyers of a 4 core CPU laptop expect that they can actually USE the 4 cores of their CPU, and all at the same time… for more than 60 seconds… It is very easy to make a benchmark that runs a machine at 100% of CPU for a couple of hours. Do it.

OK, back at the rant:

Worse, there doesn’t seem to be any way to say “At FOO degrees F, slow the clock on the CPU to reduce heat” or even “Run at 75% of max CPU.”

So, much as it pains me to say it, I can only say that the HP Pavilion G6 laptop is a cheap machine with poor testing that lies about what specs it can actually reach. It has an overheating problem that HP Support Forum is unwilling to recognize / admit. It is easily demonstrable (install Litecoin, start mining) and easily stopped (don’t use more than 50% of the processor capacity). This is as close to a “no brainer” as you can get. I just diagnosed it in 10 minutes in a hotel with no outside support ( I put “HP pavilion G6 overheat shutdown” in as a search term and that pulled up the “Support Forum” – along with many other hits… so clearly I’d figured out what the issue was in order to make the search term string.)

OK, THIS laptop is now a “lite use only, don’t want to overheat the little dear” and I’m in the market for a different solution.

Related: I’m plugging in my Raspberri Pi to see if the Linux “Litecoin” install works on it. Then the Laptop can do something it is well suited to doing: be a dumb terminal server. Don’t want to stress the CPU after all…

The Backstory

At work, I’d told someone about the R.Pi which lead to mentioning the Epiphany Chip and the Parallella board. I’d mentioned it in this article:

https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2013/05/08/lego-pi-parallel-supercomputing/

That has this link:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/adapteva/parallella-a-supercomputer-for-everyone

Down in the weeds of some story about it, I found an “update” saying the boards where now being shipped to the early group, and that one project was to put scrypt on it. Why? I wondered… Turns out scrypt is the method used by Litecoin. OK…

http://www.parallella.org/

The other student accepted for Parallella related tasks is Rafael Waldo Delgado Doblas, also known as lordrafa. Rafael’s tasks include addition of scrypt support to John the Ripper using host CPU, experimenting with scrypt time-memory tradeoff, and then implementing scrypt cracking on Epiphany making use of the tradeoff (to fit in each Epiphany core’s 32 KB of local memory regardless of scrypt’s actual settings). Considering that scrypt on Epiphany makes little sense except at very low memory settings (where having to use the tradeoff doesn’t result in too much of a slowdown), the likely next task for Rafael is to implement Litecoin mining on Epiphany. Luckily (for this task), Litecoin uses scrypt at as low as 128 KB, which translates into only a ~2x expected slowdown when we reduce the memory needs to below 32 KB.

So this thing can become one heck of a Litecoin mining device. That gets me wondering about Litecoins.

As a sidebar, making a hashing engine that’s massively parallel and precomputing a lot of hash values has “benefits” for cryptanalysis, so part of me wonders if this is just an interesting clandestine way to get a lot of crypto work done for free… and a lot of neat dedicated hardware designed for cheap… but that’s just the Systems Admin Professional Paranoia talking… Yet it WOULD be a good board for attacking passwords and encrypted files….

So back at Litecoin:

I decide it might be interesting to “give it a whirl” and see how long it takes to “mine” a “coin”; then “do the math” and see if buying one of these boards could pay for itself in reasonable time. Thus the “install to mine one coin and measure”. Thus the overheating problem demonstration.

Oh Well, as they say.

The Future

I’d run into some pages on “mining” (where folks look to band into “pools” so they are more efficient, I think) and how to custom build “rigs” that do nothing but this compute problem. Some folks seeming to have even less of a life that I do… Well, at least I can enjoy knowing that I’m a little less geeky than some, and with a few more interesting things to do most of the time.

https://forum.litecoin.net/index.php?topic=2635.0

Which links to a page with an interesting use of “Milk Crates” to house board based cluster computing:

http://www.cryptobadger.com/2013/04/build-a-litecoin-mining-rig-hardware

http://www.cryptobadger.com/2013/04/build-a-litecoin-mining-rig-windows/

http://www.cryptobadger.com/2013/04/build-a-litecoin-mining-rig-linux/

You can even do it on a Mac:

http://blog.nwoolls.com/2013/05/01/litecoin-mining-on-mac-os-x-cpu-mining/

Just not on an HP Pavilion G6 Laptop…

Well, I’ve got my old Mac along on this trip (figuring that “someday” I’ll have some downtime to finally move everything off of that hard drive and onto removable media). So I suppose I can put a Litecoin mining rig on it for testing. It’s a decade or so old, but still works fine (even at 100% CPU utilization…) so might as well.

I’ve also got 2 Raspberry Pi boards with me. One is my DNS / Bittorrent server. Since the hotels all seem to be blocking bittorrent and redirecting DNS, It’s not all that usable right now. (Eventually, when I get more long term lodging, it can go back to the primary job). So a 4 GB SD card and it can have a new personality mining Litecoins.

Not exactly the project I’d thought I be reporting on tonight, but such is life.

The Raspberry Pi has a sensor in the CPU. When overheat point is reached, it automagically dials back the clock speed to hold the temp line. You keep on running, but just slow down to that rate which is the max you can do. (Overclockers use this as a self setting max clock feature, so overclock like crazy and let the CPU ramp back down to “at the limit”.)

It is a remarkable thing to realize that a $25 “toy” computer on a card has better thermal management behaviours than an H.P. Laptop. Maybe someone ought to send H.P. a R.Pi card with thermal data attached.

OK, I’m behind on finding out if mining Litecoins is interesting at all, so really need to get the R.Pi plugged into the HP as a dumb terminal and redo the work from last night of getting the software downloaded and installed and running.

I’m also thinking that maybe what I need to do is just order one of those Parallella cards and use it to build my own “laptop”. 32 GB SD card. USB TB hard drive. Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. Just need to work out a nice way to attach a display and battery box. Oh, and GOOD ventilation… Aluminum is very cheap, and conducts heat better than air. Silent too. Just saying.

Well, don’t want to overheat the laptop, so I need to give a bit of a rest. After all, it’s been using at least one of it’s 4 cores for an hour or so now. Don’t want to push it…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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31 Responses to When is a 4 core CPU a 2 core CPU?

  1. Lynn Clark says:

    An Indian friend of mine currently living in Delhi, India emailed me a few weeks ago asking if I had any idea why his ~one-year-old Macbook Pro would suddenly start running sluggishly and “heat up like mad” even with just one program (Google Chrome) running with only one tab open. All CPU cores pegged. It also refused to charge the battery. Then he mentioned that “Delhi ‘burns’ around 113F”. Turns out he’s gotten into the habit of avoiding using air conditioning. He said, “[not using a/c] has helped my body adapt better to heat; unlike some of my pals who can’t live without [a/c].” When he turned the A/C on, the laptop problems all went away. Then he found this on the Apple Canada web site: “Notebook Temperature Zone. Your Apple notebook works best from 50 to 95F. You should store them [sic] in places with temperature of -13 to 113F. That’s 10 to 35C and -25 to 45C for the metrically inclined. Keeping your Mac as near room temperature as possible (22C) is ideal.”

  2. LG says:

    You just may want to drop a note to Meg Whitman here :
    https://ssl.www8.hp.com/us/en/company-information/executive-team/ceo-index.html

    Also mailtester.com did validate some variant of her email address @ HP

  3. John F. Hultquist says:

    In the winter of 2004/05 we needed a new home computer. The short story is I ordered a mid-level tower etc. etc. from HP. They did not include the OS disk – I was to make one and verify it using the computer. No could do. Started looking at all the things inside. Every component seemed to be the cheapest thing available. The instruction booklet was crap. HP had made an overlay that appeared on the screen at start up promoting HP things. They also loaded the machine with crapola from every vendor on the planet. After several unsatisfactory calls to tech support, I called and asked for a return authorization number. I helped the FedEx driver load up the boxes and watched the rear of the truck until it disappeared out the drive. Then I bought a bunch of parts and cobbled a system together with parts of less dubious quality. That took a lot of my time because I had to check each part to be sure everything would work together. I missed reading about the number of pins on the power supply and ordered the wrong one. $15 restocking fee and 3 days lost. Oh well. It has been running since April of 2005. Two months ago I went to my local computer store and sat with a tech and we worked thru a selection process based on a software package they run. I started by picking a CPU (Intel i7-3770) and then one by one looked at components that were compatible. He put the parts together, tested it, and gave me a finished system. That cost me some serious money but saved me loads of time. Time is money. Last year we bought a new laptop. It is a Toshiba. My wife spends more time with it than she does with anything else she owns (or me). I guess she likes it. We did not even consider an HP. Well, that story got a bit long – sorry. Anyway, no HPs here.

  4. John Silver says:

    Overheating is what laptops do, it’s the nature of the beast.
    Live with it.

  5. sandy mcclintock says:

    … and its not just laptops! I have made up an electric bike which uses Li-Polymer batteries. In the winter all runs at full power (up to 2000w). In summer, when the daytime temperature is often above 27C, I have to limit the power to about 1400w, or the battery management system cuts the power to zero (hibernation? ) A reboot is required (Toggle off/on switch) ;)

  6. A C Osborn says:

    John Silver says:
    15 June 2013 at 6:45 am

    Overheating is what laptops do, it’s the nature of the beast.
    Live with it.
    Sorry that is not good enough when it causes major problems.
    My $1500 HP Pavilion fried it’s Graphics chip due to a well documented design error which led to a class action law suit in the USA, but not here in the UK.
    With a new Motherboard costing $800 repair was not worthwhile.

    So no HP laptops in my home either.

  7. Steve C says:

    Unfortunately, I have to agree with the general feeling about HP. It’s saddening to think that in the 70s, when I was a young tech, HP was the name on some of the most impressive professional testgear, stuff over which we’d regularly drool. Since the badge went onto computing equipment, they’ve rocketed to the other end of the desirability spectrum; I don’t think I’ve known anyone who’s used an HP anything and not had problems.

    Not entirely unrelated, a friend used to work on a helpdesk and had to sort out endless customers who had bought a certain Packard Bell machine (sorry, I can’t remember even if he told me the model number). The punter would read the instruction manual – “First, make yourself a set of recovery discs” – then discover – halfway through that process – that the optical drive had overheated and blown itself up before they ever actually got to use the machine. It must take real skill to design “features” like that into their products.

    I’m a recycler, thank Heaven. Most of my kit has already been soak-tested by the original owner for several years, and at “the right price” if something doesn’t work I’ll just go and get one that does work out of the junk box. The only disadvantage is that when something does fail, I don’t get the catharsis of shouting at somebody, though roundly cursing the offending item feels pretty good as a substitute. Then off to the junk box again … Which reminds me, it’s the end of the academic year again. You’d be surprised at some of the computers students sling out at the end of the year, it’s regular junk box filling time. ;-)

  8. R. de Haan says:

    It’s like buying a four cylinder car with one cylinder working. Would you accept such a car? I don’t.
    Wy don’t you guy’s file a claim against HP? Just send the board of directors this article with the header “Why HP 4 Core Laptop is one big design failure and ask your money back or a good replacement. I once bought a new car that came with a 100.000 km guarantee. With 35.000 km on the clock I blew the engine. Unfortunately it was holiday time and I was told it would take 3 weeks to process the problem leaving me without a car. Of course I didn’t accept that deal because I needed the car for my work and had planned my own holiday too and didn’t want to pay for a rental. With the 100.000 km guarantee in my mind, one of the reasons I bought the car, I told them that if they didn’t provide me with a replacement car immediately I would park it next to the head office of the importer who was located at one of the busiest highway in the country, with a big sign stating: “Here ends the 100.000 km guarantee from……. Driver is now walking”.
    I told them I would make a picture of the car and the sign and send it to all the car magazines.
    Within 15 minutes they gave me a brand new car with the compliments of the management.

    I really think you’re all to easy on companies who sell you crappy products and this problem is so evident and so well described that you should make it the top priority of HP to solve it. Just tell them that instead of spying on their own staff HP should take care that their customers are served with computers that work. Period.

  9. E.M.Smith says:

    @Lynn Clark:

    Sorry to hear that the Mac has joined the club. It was better than that in the past…

    @L.G.:

    An interesting idea, but I’m more likely to ask my friend (who is a retired H.P. computer engineer) to pass a message directly to the engineering folks…

    @John F. Hultquist:

    Yikes!

    At one time, building up a “white box” computer on your own (named for the generic white plastic towers used) was a way to get cheaper stuff. Now it’s a way to get better stuff.

    I’ve built up many a computer by hand over the years and swapped parts in many more. There has been a massive cheapening of the quality.

    @John Silver:

    I think you will find that it’s not all laptops. I’ve had several over the years. ( A half dozen I can think of without trying and more as temporary use at various companies). This is the first one that could not be run at full throttle. I ALWAYS found something I was interested in doing that would “peg the meter”. Typically the fan would spin up a bit higher (in those that had variable speed fans) and that was about it.

    So it is not just “the nature of the beast”. It is an engineering design choice approved by management.

    Trivial solutions:

    1) Use a bigger fan with larger vents.
    2) Add a CPU cooler (several kinds, from glue on heat sinks with their own fans to active Peltier Devices to heat pipes.)
    3) Use a lower power CPU. (Again, several types, including x86 types but often at a little more cost for the CPU).
    4) Bolt the CPU to a large chunk of metal. (Grid computers used a magnesium case so had no fan at all; but they did get warm to the touch… that was kind of interesting ;-)

    There are other more complicated things you can do do, too, like adjusting board layout and air flow patterns for better CPU cooling. But the simple fact is that it is a design choice and it is not just something inherent to laptops. Many laptops have no such overheating problem.

    For example, here’s a list of laptop performance numbers mining Litecoins. By definition that means they did not overheat and go belly up:

    https://github.com/litecoin-project/litecoin/wiki/Mining-hardware-comparison#wiki-LaptopPortable

    @Sandy:

    Well, at least it’s not bursting into flames! “Always look on the bright side of life! Dum, de dum, de dum”… (In a Monty Python way ;-)

    @A.C. Osborn:

    The “next step” in mining Litecoins was (is?) to install a bit of code that lets the mining code use the Graphics Processor Unit as a general purpose compute engine. That can get a 5x or so kind of range improvement in performance. That would also add even MORE heat production to the chipset. It would be interesting to find out if doing that fries the GPU…. (But not, I think, today… Maybe after I’ve obsoleted the H.P. and moved to something more “robust”… and not in the “climate science” sense of “robust”…)

    @Steve C:

    H.P. split into two companies. Agilent got the high end test gear part of the business. H.P. stayed with the more “consumer” stuff like PCs and laptops. The two cultures diverged.

    For decades, most of my computers were “cast off” boxes. (Using Linux means never buying a new computer due to Microsoft Code Bloat ;-) and having lots of new-ish hardware at each M.S. major release ;-) I still have several that work “just fine”. (AND at 100% pegged CPUs…) This laptop was the first M.S. laptop I’d bought and used (as opposed to bought for others to use). It is likely the last.

    Just not seeing the percentage in having a machine who’s parts were chosen for lowest cost / max profit and highest selling price. I’d rather “roll my own” from known good parts (also at low cost as they are minus a mark up…) and design my own more durable package. We’ll see if I get a round to doing it, or not. But a nice “laptop” made with a wood trim “case” and a solid metal bottom (heat sink grease to the chipset) along with a high performance CPU / GPU has a certain charm to it. Add in a keyboard that’s bluetooth, so can be popped out as desired and the thing starts to be interesting. Yes, I figure it would likely weigh a pound or two more than the others. Not a problem… I’d also design it to use individual replacement cells, so none of this $75 for a second battery…

    But not today. Today is laundry day and I have to decide what hotel I’m in for the next week…

  10. adolfogiurfa says:

    One more trivial solution (though old): Use your brain instead. :-)

  11. E.M.Smith says:

    Looks like someone else has already “done the math” on a R.Pi
    http://www.raspberrypi.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=30&t=44225

    I have just tested Litecoin and I get a grand total of ~56 hashes per second or 0.056Kh/s.

    Which is pretty poor. I was getting about 2600 hashes per second prior to the shutdown. That makes it about 46:1 or about a 2% solution… Not exactly interesting.

    Using “cpuminer” isn’t particularly interesting either:

    currently that is generating at a rate of about 0.0009 ltc a day.

    Invert that, it’s about 1111 days / coin or 3 years. Having an R.Pi pegged for 3 years to get a $4 “coin” isn’t a very interesting idea. Clearly for this to be “of interest” needs a very fast processor or a parallel approach. Maybe I have an excuse for my Beowulf cluster after all ;-)

    These numbers also imply my laptop IFF it could run at full speed and did nothing else, could find one “coin” in about 24 days. That makes it 72 days if you let it do this for an 8 hour shift “at night” when not in use. 2 Months.

    OK, nice to know. Not all that interested any more…

    @Adolfo:

    OK, please compute 2700 cipher block hashes per second for the next 3 months and find the shortest one. I’ll wait…

    @u.k.(us):

    30 MW initial, 65 MW available for growth!? Wow…

    OK, that’s huge. Even the old power sucking Cray’s were about 750 kVA feed (roughly kW).

    So that’s about 50 Crays (old school) of computes; eventually 100. Given current lower power demand computing; this is just gigantic computes. With that level of compute power, you can brute force decrypt a whole lot of “hard” encryption AND store just about all the data feeds in the nation…

    The “store” matters a great deal. As recently as the 1990s, we were using 56 bit RSA encryption as “hard”. By the 2000s, there was dedicated hardware that could crack it in near real time for about $200,000 (or WELL inside the “chump change” budget of low level managers at TLAs…) and by now you ought to be able to crack it with a budget that fits in the individual person credit card limits. So if you can capture and store an encrypted feed for 20 years, cracking it become trivial. For a TLA, it’s more like 5 to 10 years. Things are still relevant then, in many cases.

    This is an issue.

  12. CompuGator says:

    Have you considered purchasing a rugged(ized) laptop (“milspec” or “boat” in searches seem to yield similarly useful results, as “marine” also might). Panasonic, e.g., has a Toughbook line. Alas, they do command premium prices[*]. I wonder if it’s possible to buy factory-refurbished models? And if it’d be prudent, considering the harsh conditions that ruggedized laptops are designed to survive?

    Perhaps preinstalled with Windows because of de facto requirements for communicating with the outside world (e.g.: companies or government agencies whose “house rules” caused them to routinely send important documents out in MS-Word: A recurring irritation that you might blithely ignore, if only they didn’t represent job-assignment or business opportunities).

    Then you might add flexibility, and hoist the appropriate finger in the direction of Redmond, by installing linux as your secondary-boot system.

    Note *: Maybe $1000 more than a modern delicate grandma-grade laptop that has comparable capabilities? I’ve got no doubt that new ruggedized ones are beyond my budget right now.

  13. Petrossa says:

    Install Process Lasso http://bitsum.com/processlasso/ and have the priority of processes automatically regulated, or lock a process to 1 or 2 cores only. that way you can prevent 4 cores running at 100%. A very good piece of software, been using it for years.

  14. E.M.Smith says:

    @ComputGator:

    Well, from the “You get what you pay for” department….

    This thing cost me something like $430 or so a bit over a year ago. So not exactly a big “investment”. The “ruggedized” ones are mostly a question of the case / packaging, not the contents, so likely not going to do much for “my needs”. ( I don’t need the shock dampening / isolation features nor the bullet proof case…) Some of them have better cooling, but frankly, for a “compute station” for things like Litecoin mining, I’d be just as happy with a bare board “breadboard” solution.

    In short, the “laptop” can just stay a “light usage” laptop and I can kiss off the $30 or so worth of “cores” that can’t be used all at the same time. It’s worked OK for that purpose for a year and some. It can keep on working for that purpose.

    Mostly this all just means that I need to come up with a “benchmark test code” that fits on a USB drive so for any future laptop I launch that at the Computer Store on their demo machine and let it run for 15 minutes while talking to the “sales guy” and occasionally feeling the hot air out / bottom of the unit to see if it’s overheating. Or watch it crash and burn….

    I can likely find something that just pegs all cores pretty quick. (spawn a few dozen compute intensive threads and sit back…)

    @R. de Haan:

    A good analogy. An interesting story.

    I’d not bother with this laptop, though.

    Why? Well, I’ve had a good chunk of use from it. Only now figuring out this “issue”. Somewhat like finding out your “120 MPH car” will only go 100 MPH before it overheats and you need to let it rest for 10 minutes. Not something you really are going to notice every day. Just don’t try to turn it into a racer…

    The other “issue” is just the “time cost”. I’ll eat up more in my time than it is worth to me. So I’ll just settle for letting other folks know and “moving on”. For the added “computes”, I’ll find some other more interesting solution.

    As the whole issue of Litecoin “mining” was just an interesting investigation / curiosity thing for me, and I’ve already got that answer, I’m not seeing much in the way of “need” at the moment to run the box “flat out”. I’ve sometimes used a VM Linux on it that sucks down one whole core, and thought that having a couple of them running doing “interesting things” and one core for the Windows world, would be an interesting “cluster in a box” experiment. I now know that’s likely to also “suddenly hibernate” on me. Since a R.Pi on a dongle is more interesting than a VM “cluster in the laptop” anyway, I’m just more likely to deflect into more external hardware and use the laptop as the “dumb terminal / console” – a role it is well suited to perform.

    Essentially: I care more about my time being applied to “fun stuff” and have more fun stuff I can do with other hardware; while spending my time “fighting H.P.” is not interesting and not very rewarding (in any sense). I’m going to get about $399 of value out of my $400 ish laptop anyway, so what’s the point? (In reality, I’ll likely get more than that, as I’ll keep using it for something or other for years… I have a P333 or so Toshiba laptop with a dead screen that I still sometimes use as a ‘low end test box’ for linux ports. So long after it stops being used for one thing, it will be ‘recycled’ as another.)

    I’m happy to simply let folks know “Here there be dragons” and move on elsewhere …

  15. CompuGator says:

    Chiefio grumbled (15 June 2013 [a.m. GMT]):

    Worse, there doesn’t seem to be any way to say “At FOO degrees F, slow the clock on the CPU to reduce heat” or even “Run at 75% of max CPU.”

    Odd. I’d thought that a continuous temperature-vs.-clock trade-off in hardware was intended to be a distinguishing on-going feature of ‘m’=”mobile” CPUs, or their support chips, for at least the last  half-decade or so. Thus the intel ‘SpeedStep‘ and AMD ‘PowerNow‘ technologies.

    So it seems that I just wasn’t looking closely enough, being already set with a laptop of my own. Upon further review, it seems as if extending a battery’s usable charge is the only issue that the intel vs. AMD clock/power-management technologies are intended to addresses. Not overheating.

    Be that as it may, this article might be worth a look by some readers here, altho’ it’s not directly applicable: “Intel SpeedStep, Windows XP, and confusing Power Profiles“, by Michael Chu (previously at intel).

  16. adolfogiurfa says:

    I was just thinking……if the chips some want to be implanted in us run on Win…as OS, they will never control us :-)

  17. Zeke says:

    Adolfo is right (:

  18. Zeke says:

    …That is, unless it is required in order to be able to buy or sell anything, and gives your location at all times. And unless it comes with some “fine print” about agreeing with the ideology of the state that installs it. Then it could be used for controlling behavior.

  19. PhilJourdan says:

    At one time, building up a “white box” computer on your own (named for the generic white plastic towers used) was a way to get cheaper stuff. Now it’s a way to get better stuff.

    Actually, i always used it to get better stuff. Until recently, I always built my own to get the best of breed that I could not find elsewhere.

  20. u.k.(us) says:

    “With that level of compute power, you can brute force decrypt a whole lot of “hard” encryption AND store just about all the data feeds in the nation…”
    ===============
    I know, hope and change.

  21. adolfogiurfa says:

    However….be careful with those sticker tattoos for children, they may print a simple resonant nano Lakhovsky spiral to be activated by scalar waves from Big Brother.

  22. EricN says:

    At work we have started seeing HP tower machines with Suse Linux installed on them. Solaris workstations are out of production. It was reported in the staff meeting this Friday that at least 4 of the new machines have burnt up (slagged the CPU chips perhaps). Doesn’t make me want an HP machine at home I have to say.

  23. Greg Hall says:

    For years I have been using a program called “SpeedFan” to control Laptop temps. It takes control of the internal fan and you set the temperatures via the onboard sensor readings, CPU, Video and Hard Drive. You can get it here: http://www.almico.com/speedfan.php.

  24. R. de Haan says:

    @E.M.” Essentially: I care more about my time being applied to “fun stuff” and have more fun stuff I can do with other hardware; while spending my time “fighting H.P.” is not interesting and not very rewarding (in any sense)”.

    That’s how most people think, myself included, but I have changed my view. First because it doesn’t take much time to make a strong complaint and it’s really fun if you make high demands and get them fulfilled. What changed my mind was an iPod I bought from Apple that went broke within a year. At the blogs I found out Apple designed the IPod to break down within a year. I use Apple products since 1984 and alway’s was served with good service and great quality. Now with screw-up Al Gore in the board of directors and I was served with crap. That was the drop that spilled the bucket. I was simply fed up being served with an Apple product that was stamped IQ = Inferior Quality in the bloody factory. For them it’s easy money as they talk millions of products world wide. I say screw them all. They only start and continue these scams because their customers simply let them get away with it. Do you get my point?

  25. DirkH says:

    E.M.Smith says:
    15 June 2013 at 3:00 pm
    “Looks like someone else has already “done the math” on a R.Pi
    http://www.raspberrypi.org/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=30&t=44225
    I have just tested Litecoin and I get a grand total of ~56 hashes per second or 0.056Kh/s.

    Which is pretty poor. I was getting about 2600 hashes per second prior to the shutdown. That makes it about 46:1 or about a 2% solution… Not exactly interesting.”

    Even an Intel Atom is a supercomputer compared to an ARM. Which is the reason that ARM dominates the low power sector for now.

    As for Litecoin: I anticipated the creation of Bitcoin clones. Soon there will be a smartphone app to start your own currency.

    ChiefIO, you know that a Bitcoin by definition allows to track all transactions it was used in indefinitely? NSA’s finest.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitcoin
    “The fork of March 2013

    On 12 March 2013, a Bitcoin miner running version 0.8.0 of the Bitcoin software created a large block that was incompatible with earlier versions of the Bitcoin software due to its size. This created a split or “fork” in the block chain since older versions of the software did not accept this block as valid. Computers with the recent version of the software accepted the block and continued to build on the diverging chain, whereas older versions of the software rejected it and continued extending the block chain without the offending block. This split resulted in two separate transaction logs being formed without clear consensus, which allowed for the same funds to be spent differently on each chain. In response, the Mt.Gox exchange temporarily halted Bitcoin deposits.[49] The exchange rate fell 23% to $37 on the Mt.Gox exchange but rose most of the way back to its prior level of $48.[35][36]

    Developers at bitcoin.org resolved the split by recommending that users downgrade to “version 0.7″, which utilized the oldest transaction log in the split. User funds largely remained unaffected and were available when network consensus was reached.[50] The network reached consensus and continued to operate as normal a few hours after the split.[51]”

    Notice “transaction logs”.
    “User funds largely remained unaffected “. Ain’t that great. Things like these always end well.
    “The network reached consensus “. Why does this creep me out?

    On a bitcoin thread I saw the statement “Securing a blockchain is not easy.” Well and when it’s not secured we can always hope that the network reaches consensus some time later after user funds remain largely unaffected. I’m sure everything works out, and every bitcoin will have an owner after consensus is reached. And as bitcoin is a virtual currency, there will be only virtual lawsuits and virtual jail terms.

  26. CodeTech says:

    I bought two Raspberry Pis recently. I installed XBMC on one of them and set the other up as a failover server for my micro web server in the basement.

    While the XBMC machine plays 1080p flawlessly (hardware decoder chip), it’s so painfully slow to navigate through the menus that it never gets used. Strike that idea. The other has never failed over, but even running its daily update and other tasks (mirroring the main server) are also painfully slow. So it sits there, bolted to the wall under the alarm box, a transparent-cased mystery to show people (see that? It’s a full-up computer. No, really!)

    To me the Raspberry is a spectacular solution for a certain problem, and I’m hoping that one day I find that problem. I really want to put one in my car, surely as a music-only player and maybe GPS display it will be fine, and it’s definitely a low-power machine. But other than replacing the factory deck there’s just no place to put it, and I’d have to replace all the deck functions: mp3 player, CD player, GPS, built-in bluetooth for my phone, backup camera, satellite radio, and one or two other things, plus it would have to interface with the steering wheel controls, and talk to the CANBUS, which as we all know is sparsely documented anywhere.

    One other possibility is getting the Raspberry camera and configuring it as a dash-cam. That way if I ever am in a collision, or witness one, I’ll have a record of it not being my fault.

    Meanwhile, my old Toshiba laptop needed to be opened about once a month and the ball of accumulated dust extracted from the heatsink. Of course, there was no way to access it without disassembling the entire system to it’s logical end, so I couldn’t just pop open one section and clean it. My newer Compaq, which was $400 two years ago, has been flawless with heating and even gets good battery life. It’s a dual-core AMD, which I never otherwise would have touched.

    Last year I built a pretty decent i7 quadcore desktop box. It’s running at 5 GHz, it auto-throttles based on temperature, and simply adding a $60 liquid cooling system I got at Christmas time lets it run at 100% cpu indefinitely. Temperatures stabilize within about 4 minutes.

  27. I have one of those cheap HP laptops. The reason I have it has everything to do with overheating caused by bad design.

    For three years my laptop was a cheap Toshiba that I liked until it “bricked”. Makes one yearn for the good old days when the only thing that failed was the hard drive. No special tools needed to deal with that! My local computer guru said that overheating had caused a chip to desolder……yes he could fix it but no guarantee and it was likely to happen again. After two cycles of repair I would have spent as much as a new laptop would cost.

    So off to “Best Buy”. I asked the salesman for the cheapest laptop that would fit my favourite Targus bag. It turned out to be another Toshiba but the salesman warned me that 50 % of them were coming back owing to overheating. I ignored his advice on the grounds that the least powerful computer available would hardly be exercised by my relatively efficient (Mint 14) operating system and the simple “Apps” that I use.

    The new Toshiba lasted 90 minutes before it “bricked”. I took it back the next day and asked the salesman for his “Second Cheapest” which turned out to be a HP 2000 with 4 CPUs. This one is not going to overheat as the CPUs stubbornly refuse to run above 10% regardless of what I do. Since retiring I don’t run FEAs any more!

    The HP 2000 typically consumes 13-15 W compared to >25 W for my old Toshiba. I am thinking of removing the DVD drive and replacing the hard drive with a SSD (600 mW). With a little luck the computer will be faster while consuming less power.

  28. E.M.Smith says:

    @CompuGator:

    Hmmm…. There ought to be a way to control it then…

    @Adolfo:

    Chuckle ;-)

    Just take up the hobby of working with radio transmitters and occasionally pulse a few kW for a nanosecond or three at it… “Wet stuff” doesn’t mind ;-)

    @PhilJourdan:

    So you are an overclocker, eh? One of those guys who puts heat pipes and Peltier coolers on the CPU and …

    My kind of folks ;-)

    @UK (US):

    Or “hope for change”….

    @EricN:

    Solaris workstations out of production, eh? Sad that… Maybe I’ll install Solaris on some other hardware just for old times sake…

    @Greg Hall:

    Thanks! I’ll look into it.

    @R. de Haan:

    I get your point, and would holler if the machine was not workable; but it is. So I’m not trying to get $400 of satisfaction, only about $30 worth (the marginal “loss”). I’m better served by spending that time to make MORE money, and use that new money to “roll my own” higher performance device.

    Oh, and using this forum to make even more “awareness” than I ever could talking to an H.P. new hire in India…

    @DirkH:

    I’m not particularly interested in the virtual currencies as “money”. More just from a ‘compute problem’ angle and a little bit from a sociology of money angle. Never had much love of any fiat currency, and the “computed currencies” are based on “work units” of, in essence, bidding “2 no trump” more than some other fool in a giant game of “compute Bridge”. Never did like Bridge much ;-)

    But it touches on a bunch of things I do care about, like encryption and “hard compute problems” and cluster computing. So I find parts of it more interesting than the actual “FOOcoin as currency” aspect.

    @GallopingCamel:

    An interesting story.

    And here I am thinking that a little quality time with an exacto knife could open up the air flow and that some artfully applied heat sinking could work wonders ;-)

    Isn’t it interesting what we are willing to do with computers that have encouraged use to think of them as “deprecated” ? ;-)

  29. NickF says:

    This can be complicated. All the vendors – HP, Intel and Microsoft – want you to have a powerful, efficient laptop. Experience with HP laptops suggests:

    1. Get some canned air. Remove keyboard – secured by screws on the base (look for minuscule keyboard icons) and slide-down tabs at top edge. Blow canned air into the grille where hot air exits air outlet. This will likely dislodge wards of dust & pet hair your laptop has vacuumed from desks and laps. Then blow down through the fan to clean its blades and the inlet grille. Finally blow dust out of entire area under kevboard.

    2. While keyboard is open, check whether there are memory slots there. Some quad-core HP laptops have 4 SODIMM slots. Best to use slot 1 under hatch in base and 2, under keyboard for full memory access interleaving.

    3. Go to HP software support download website for your laptop. Ensure BIOS is up to date. Also all chipset, power management, “essential” Windows updates and drivers.

    4. Go to Intel site and use their support tool to get the most current version of their drivers.

    I have workstation-grade HP laptop, frequently drive 1 core at 100% with two others at 50%. Have to blow out dust every year to ensure reliable operation.

  30. philjourdan says:

    @E.M. – I have not gone the water cooled route yet.

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