There is a fair to good chance that I have become an old man yelling at the sky regarding hardware.

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by Shogmaster, Oct 12, 2018.

  1. Shogmaster

    Shogmaster Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    I like to think of myself as a hardware guy. Meaning, I know the latest hardware trends and specs and am interested in latest development in hardware design. But I can't deny the fact that my younger days are far behind me, and my idea of how hardware should be designed and function was formed mostly in the 90's and early 2000's.

    Acknowledging that, I have realized that most of my computing hardware experience has been under Intel's X86 domination. Even when I built my AMD based desktops or two, they were still X86 designs. For most of my life, X86 ruled the land in market share, and performance (for the most part). Even Apple had to give into Intel's might back in mid 2000's when PowerPC couldn't keep up with Intel's manufacturing advancements.

    But as we approach the impending transition from Intel by Apple for their own homebrew ARM A Series SoC for their Macs, this might also spell the beginning of the end for Intel X86/X64 as the dominant architecture for mainline computers. As Intel fumbles and bumbles to get their 10nm back on schedule (it's already several cycle late), Apple is already cranking out millions of 7nm A12s for the iPhones and iPads. Sure, you can make a case that you can't fairly compare Intel's process node with TSMC or GlobalFoundary's process node that Apple uses, but nevertheless, Intel has been stuck on their 14nm for at least 3 generation and that is never a good sign.

    The fact of the matter is, even without manufacturing issues, the future of X86/X64 seems numbered. It's no secret that at ultra low voltage, Intel's Core SoCs struggles against the best ARM chips from Apple and Qualcomm. Intel's Core processors really needs lots of wattage to perform well, and while they are capable enough at around 5W, being bested by glorified phone SoCs these days means that ULV is not where Intel's Core architecture is best suited for. Intel has also attempted to warm over the Pentium 3 into Atom ULV architecture but we all know where that ended up. Intel simply can't compete with ARM in ULV realm. And now ARM is encroaching in the high performance mobile realm as well, with the like of Apple's A series and Qualcomm's 800 series, now morphing into 8000 series where there will be a separate SKUs for Windows On ARM laptop and 2 in 1 devices. While Intel struggles to keep 3 billion transistors down to 45W of power consumption, Apple and Qualcomm can get their 5~7 billion transistors working fine at less than 15W.

    For now Intel has performance edge at over 45W, but that's not where Apple and the rest of the industry wants to be at for mobile designs. They keep building thinner and lighter devices that can't deal with top Intel SoC's cooling requirements. Look at the likes of Dell XPS, Lenovo X1 Extreme and Macbook Pro. Even at 15.6" footprint, they can't cool the Core i7 and i9 Hexacores well enough to keep them from throttling. So you end up paying for SoC you can't take full performance advantage of. It's no wonder Apple is switching their mobile Macs to A series SoC by 2020. Apple values thin and light over all else. Intel won't help them get there.

    But with all this thinness and lightness chase intensifies, leaving Intel in precarious situation, I am worried for different reason. I am a hardware guy and as a hardware guy, I like to tinker and fix. But also I'm lazy, so I'm not going to learn to solder with microscopes to thinker and fix. And as ODMs pursue thinner and lighter, the days of SoDIMMs and M.2/SATA storage are also seemingly numbered. Already many of the 13.3" and smaller laptops and 2 in 1 have soldered on RAM. Even some of the 15" laptops have soldered RAM (I'm looking at you Samsung Notebook 9 Pro). And as likes of Apple sets the trend for device designs, even the SSD will be soldered on the board. On the board level, I will make a very safe assumption that the 2020 13.3" Macbook Pro's board will look indistinguishable from 2020 iPad Pro's board. The only distinction will be the chassis design via physical UI (mouse and KB vs Touchscreen and Apple Pencil).

    So as Idiocracy of the hardware world becomes closer to reality, in say 15 years, only the weirdos and super geeks will be using devices that can be tinkered with and modified (i.e. desktops). You will buy all your mobile device from the factory as will be for the rest of the device's life. Laptop form factor will probably have merged by then with phone and will become disposable commodities. Perhaps by then, all the real computing will be done by megacorps' farms in the cloud, and we will just use our devices to borrow their computing power. Streaming information they deem OK for us to use.

    Welcome to Costco, I love you.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2018
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  2. NamelessPlayer

    NamelessPlayer Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    I feel your pain, as someone with this Cintiq Companion Hybrid whose seemingly outdated NVIDIA Tegra 4 SoC would still seem like a supercomputer compared to your typical early-1990s desktop, and yet due to Android's focus as a consumer OS where root privileges are highly discouraged (how dare you try to take control of the software on your own hardware!) and professional applications are seen as an afterthought, it's arguably less capable than an old Power Macintosh on System 7-OS 9 with boatloads of CAD, modeling, editing and production software floating around because 601s, 604s and 750/G3s were regarded as the best you could get without stepping up to some crazy expensive Silicon Graphics workstation.

    Think about that for a moment. A modern mobile OS can't even do the things a desktop OS that was already obsolete in the face of AmigaOS and Windows 95 could do. (Remember that the Amiga was doing preemptive multitasking in 1985, multiple desktops with screen-dragging, and due to the shared use of 68k CPUs, also made a pretty good Hackintosh. Why Commodore wound up losing to Apple here in the US despite having an outright superior product at lower cost is something I'm still trying to figure out, particularly when Windows 95 needed a whole decade to bring preemptive multitasking to IBM PC-compatibles, and Apple another 5-7 years after that to get OS X to fill in where Copland was supposed to in the mid-'90s...)

    I should've seen that mobile OS deficiency coming when the very first iPhone launched over a decade ago without such computing staples as being able to install third-party apps (App Store came later), cut/copy/paste (again, that came later, and both Palm OS and Windows Mobile already did that), multitasking (more specific to Windows Mobile and whatever weird flavor of Linux you got on a Sharp Zaurus or Nokia Internet Tablet), and for the longest time, basic file management! Even then, iOS 11's Files app and workings leaves a lot to be desired compared to how Android and even ol' Windows Mobile let you dive right into the file system and share stuff without having to resort to cloud services or proprietary kludges like AirDrop. (Hey, why not let me use that hard drive I have as an SMB/FTP share on my router?)

    Sure enough, iOS shaped what people expect out of smartphones nowadays. The very notion of PDA-style pocket computing would've died out if Samsung hadn't been so doggedly persistent with the Galaxy Note (which replaced the crappy ol' resistive digitzer and passive stylus for the then-standard capacitive multi-touch with Wacom EMR!!!), and I'm also thinking about how Palm webOS might've panned out if it hadn't died so fast. (Wireless charging? Palm Pre did it first! Multitasking with a card metaphor? Palm was first again! Gesture navigation? Swipe across the home button on the Pre, and it's not too different from the iOS/Android Pie gesture pill. I swear, it's practically the mobile equivalent of the Amiga in terms of being literally years ahead of its time.)

    I'm admittedly focusing more on the software here, but that's mostly because hardware isn't entirely a lost cause as long as PC gaming remains a thing. You can pry our keyboards, mice, specialty peripherals (be that Cintiqs or expensive cockpit simulator gear) and PCI-Express slots from our cold, dead hands. (Apple tried on that last one with the 2013 "trash can" Mac Pro, and look what good that did them when everyone kept hanging on to their upgradable, expandable aluminum cheese graters with increasingly-aging Nehalem/Westmere CPUs instead for the love of macOS, or just outright jumping ship to Windows-based workstations that weren't laughably outdated...)

    But even if the hardware exists... well, again, look at that Cintiq Hybrid. It's still stuck on Android 4.2.1 Jelly Bean; Wacom released an Android tablet at over $1,200 and never provided any significant OS updates, or provided firmware restoration images in case of a brick, or even provided the kernel sources in what is certainly a GPL violation. If you can't control the software that hardware is running, then you might as well have a giant brick on your hands, and you've surely noticed the war on open computing going on that people are being increasingly conditioned to accept through mobile OSes.

    The only reason Microsoft got shut down with that crap on Windows 8/10, especially with how hard they're pushing UWP and things like S Mode, is that long-time Windows users already know better. macOS, on the other hand, is only getting increasingly more iOS-like over the years, and not for the better...

    Oh, and one more thing I need to note: the big problem with mobile hardware is that they never had an "IBM-compatible" moment with a standardized firmware and bootloader. Each ARM-based device has its own bootloader with its own way of doing things, and each version of Linux needs to be compiled against each and every little SoC. When those SoCs stop being supported, have fun trying to find an up-to-date OS you can run on them without painstakingly trying to port it over yourself, shimming outdated binary blobs and all...
     
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  3. WillAdams

    WillAdams Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    The terrible thing here is that Microsoft yanked the rug out from everyone (well, me at least) when they dumbed the stylus down to an 11th touch input in Fall Creators Update.

    It kills me that there hasn't been more pushback against this: https://github.com/TheJoeFin/Windows10-Community/issues/17

    I've rolled back twice now, and it kills me that I can't work out any other options:

    - not buying a new Windows machine since then I wouldn't have the option to roll back to a point where the machine is usable
    - can't buy an Android or Chrome tablet since I need a program for a job which only runs in Windows or Mac OS X
    - buying an iPad Pro, Apple Pencil, and Mac Mini and using Astropad Duet is really expensive and means that I have to replace all of my applications (and give up using Freehand unless I run it in an emulation environment) and have a second version of all Mac OS X applications as iPad apps for when I'm travelling.
     
  4. Shogmaster

    Shogmaster Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    Bro bro NEVER go Astropad or Duet route unless you love lagging lines as you draw. If you do Astropad + emulation, then you'd be stuck with lag-ception, where if you screw up your stroke under emulation, your active stylus explodes in real life...
     
  5. Shogmaster

    Shogmaster Pen Pro - Senior Member Senior Member

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    You certainly can't have computing hardware Idiocracy without accompanying software Idiocracy....
     
  6. bloodycape

    bloodycape confused Senior Member

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    To be fair Matias Duarte who helped make the WebOS interface is now working at Google on Android so it's no coincidence there.

    Huawei also announced this week they will be bringing out multiple devices with their new 7nm Kirin cpu. We will have to see how it compares to the A12 and SD845/850 and whatever else is upcoming. I think Samsung is also close to brining a 7nm Exynos cpu for variants of the upcoming S10 and/or their dual screen/folding device.
    https://hothardware.com/news/samsung-7nm-exynos-9820-mongoose-m4-could-crush-arm-cortex-a76

    Will not sure what you mean MS took stylus down to 11th touch input. I really haven't notice too much of a difference vs previous version of Windows. But, then again maybe I am not noticing it.
     
  7. WillAdams

    WillAdams Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Darn. The reviews have been reasonably positive and no one complained overly much of that. Guess that then it's a Mac Mini and Wacom Cintiq (and an iPad Pro and Apple Pencil as a portable unit)
     
  8. WillAdams

    WillAdams Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    When using Fall Creators Update, the pen is mapped to touch / scroll --- I can't select text in Microsoft Edge in a reasonable fashion --- if someone could explain how I could, I'd be glad of it --- tried on a recent machine at Best Buy, but found it so frustrating I wanted to throw the machine across the room.

    When I first upgraded to Fall Creators Update I assumed it was a bug and immediately rolled back: http://forum.tabletpcreview.com/threads/fall-creators-update-1709-issues.73088/
     
  9. doobiedoobiedum

    doobiedoobiedum Scribbler - Standard Member

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    If your iPad memory gets full Astropad will lag otherwise the lag is not as described. Obviously if Apple took the iPad up to 8 or higher GB there would be less problems with lag.

    What an awesome program Freehand was. Illustrator has never really won my heart the same way.
     
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  10. Azzart

    Azzart Late night illustrator Senior Member

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    Let's say though, that is a problem only with Samsung because it's the only tablet pc productor that came out with a pen without the freaking right click button.
    It might not be the best experience to keep the button pressed while you hold down the pen to select text, but it's not the end of the world otherwise.
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2018

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