Tag Archives: intel

SSDs, data loss, electricity, and hype

I’m not particularly worried about this, but under the very worst case scenario, certain solid-state disks can theoretically lose data in a week or two if they’re left without power. But that doesn’t instill panic and get clicks when you say it like that.

But you knew I was going to write about it. Let me tell you why I’m not worried.

Continue reading SSDs, data loss, electricity, and hype

New options for low-TDP PCs

Earlier last week, Intel quietly unveiled a new series of Braswell SoCs, intended for very low-power computers. Literally low-power, as the chips use between 4 and 6 watts. Add the requirements of the motherboard, memory, and an SSD and you’re probably still looking at a computer that uses less than 15 watts.

The SoCs are priced between $121 and $161, which probably means the motherboards will run between $140 and $200 depending on the feature set. Add memory, a case, power supply, and an SSD, and you have a silent, power-sipping computer.

So far only MSI has announced motherboards and they haven’t announced pricing, but given Asrock’s selection of boards featuring previous-generation 6W TDP CPUs, I expect at least Asrock will join in, and probably Asus will as well.

These aren’t powerhouse machines, but they’re fine for everyday use, and someone like me who has a 7-year-old PC that works fine could think about replacing that machine with one of these. It’ll be marginally faster, but with the difference in power consumption being nearly 100 watts, the computer will probably pay for itself eventually. Or go grab one of the previous-generation boards, which sell for well under $100, and settle for less performance but a faster payoff.

What to look for in a 2014 bargain Android tablet

I guess I owe an apology for not writing and posting this last week, when $40 tablets were all the rage as doorbusters. Cheap Android tablets are back again, and people are going to buy them–so it pays to buy one worth having, rather than one that’s going to drive you nuts.

Here’s what I look for, and you should too: Continue reading What to look for in a 2014 bargain Android tablet

What to look for in a cheap laptop in late 2014

So the sales fliers for the 2014 Christmas shopping season are out, and I’m seeing tons of cheap laptops. If you only have $200 to spend, they have something for you.

Some of them look like they’re even worth having. Yes, I’m shocked too. Here’s how to figure out which ones are worth taking home, and which ones are best left for some other sucker. Whether you’re shopping for yourself or someone else, you’ll probably want to keep the following in mind.

Continue reading What to look for in a cheap laptop in late 2014

FTDI needs to be charged under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

FTDI is a company that makes computer chips for USB peripherals. Their chips are frequently cloned, which is an issue they have a right to deal with. But they have to be careful.

Breaking suspected cloned chips that consumers bought in good faith is the wrong answer. If I did that, it would be called hacking, and I would be sitting in jail right now, and probably would be facing a quarter-century in prison. Continue reading FTDI needs to be charged under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act

What to look for in a motherboard

I’ve been building PCs for more than 20 years and I tend to keep them a very long time, so it occurred to me that someone might be interested in what I look for in a motherboard to ensure both a long, reliable life and a long useful life.

Of course what to look for has changed to some degree over the years, but this is what I look for in the mid-2010s.

Continue reading What to look for in a motherboard

Someone else’s opinion on the best SSDs

Every once in a while I get a question about what SSD I recommend, since I’ve been buying them a long time. I always recommend the best price you can get on someone who makes their own memory chips, which means the cheapest drive you can get from Micron/Crucial, Intel, Samsung, Toshiba, or Sandisk.

Looks like someone else, in that same vein, recommends the Crucial MX100. The explanation why is good reading.

What happens when you write a petabyte of data to an SSD

If you’re concerned about SSD reliability, Tech Report has good news for you: They attempted to write a petabyte of data to six SSDs, and three of them survived. Considering the drives were rated for a 200 TB life expectancy, that’s impressive. In fact, even the worst drives outlived their 200 TB life expectancy. And all started behaving oddly long before their demise, giving you ample warning to do something in advance–something you can’t say about evil nasty platters of spinning rust–perhaps better known as traditional hard drives.

The first drive to fail, if you’re wondering, was the Samsung 840, which uses cheaper TLC memory. But even the Samsung 840 outlived its projected life expectancy. Since other companies are undercutting the 840’s price even with MLC memory these days, I’m not sure what Samsung’s plans for the 840 are. For the time being, I doubt you’ll be buying one. One of the drives that’s still going after a petabyte of writes is a costlier Samsung MLC drive.

Continue reading What happens when you write a petabyte of data to an SSD

Curious conspiracies… or maybe just progress all at once

In the wake of Truecrypt’s sudden implosion, someone sent me a link to this curious blog post. I can see why many people might find the timing interesting, but there are a number of details this particular blog post doesn’t get correct, and it actually spends most of its time talking about stuff that has little or nothing to do with Truecrypt.

What’s unclear to me is whether he’s trying to say the industry is deliberately sabotaging Truecrypt, or if he’s simply trying to make a list of things that are making life difficult for Truecrypt. His post bothers me a lot less if it’s just a laundry list of challenges, but either way, the inaccuracies remain. Continue reading Curious conspiracies… or maybe just progress all at once