Hardware Addicts 1: CES 2020, Right to Repair, Do Nanometers Matter in CPUs?

Episode 1: Hardware Addicts 1: CES 2020, Right to Repair, Do Nanometers Matter in CPUs?


Outstanding first episode @dasgeek @TheWendyPower @MichaelTunnell, and the show has a ton of mainstream appeal. Great first impression right out of the gate, and can’t wait for the next one.


Most discussion of high end hardware is gaming focused and that’s because the consumer market for “fastest” hardware, especially GPUs, is about running video games at the highest possible resolution / settings.

Thus it was refreshing to hear @TheWendyPower bring in the real world and mention her interest in identifying the hardware she needs to do her job at affordable prices.

Yes, hardware’s interesting and important, but it really isn’t possible to separate hard and soft ware. Games? I’ve heard on other podcasts that both nVidia and AMD work with developers to tune some games to work better on their GPUs, then tout those results. Same for benchmarks.

Where the hard and soft ware nexus gets very interesting is in identifying the hardware requirements to run software. Intel kept winning the “gaming” crown by maxing single core performance, and that matters because, at least historically, games were “single core.”

In 2014, when I was still entirely Mac, I bought a Quad Core i7 15" MacBook Pro with discrete graphics thinking it would surely process RAW photos faster than my basic dual core i5 MacBook Air. Uh, not perceptibly. Looking into why a much faster, 4 core 8 thread processor with twice the RAM didn’t speed throughput I eventually (and with difficulty) determined the software I was using wasn’t designed to take advantage of multiple cores / threads.

Conclusion: It’s really important to know your software’s “requirements” and design to intelligently select hardware.

The best “source” I’ve found for that kind of information is here:

And I’m happy to add that Puget Systems has added some focus on using Linux.

Not a Puget Systems customer, but do think the kind of real world evaluation they do, even though at the very high end for “creatives” and not “gamers,” is the kind of approach that would lead me to buy from them if I needed such power. And which, if brought to this new Podcast, could help Linux users and adopters make good choices.

Dear @dasgeek, and the Hardware addicts team:

I have a hardware review request, should any of you have a spare Raspberry Pi 3 or W hanging around. It’s a Pi-Hole-monitoring display for the Raspberry Pi:

“Ad Blocking Kit for Pi-Hole with 2.8” PiTFT - No Soldering! - No Raspberry Pi Included"

Note: Currently sold out, but maybe one of their reselling partners has one in stock?

There are also a few closely-related similar displays, and are also usually, if not always sold out. For example:

“Mini Color PiTFT Ad Blocking Pi-Hole Kit - No Soldering!”

And finally, a tiny, monocrome version:

“Mini Monochrome PiOLED Ad Blocking Pi-Hole Kit - No Soldering!”

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I listened to the first two shows recently and would like to give a hopefully constructive suggestion.

If you listen to DL on a regular basis then we all know Ryan has some… shall we say strong opinions when it comes to privacy stuff and amd in particular, which is fine and great, nothing wrong with that. The only problem I had listening to hardware addicts was that there is no disagreement with his opinions, like at all.

I think it would be useful to include a host who is similarly knowledgeable as Ryan, but who has different opinions on say the whole amd/nvidia thing. I think that would make the dynamic of the show better.

For example, as someone who knows nothing about amd/nvidia, if I went solely on Ryan’s opinion there would be no question it has to be amd. But, it seems lots and lots of people do want nvidia stuff. So it can’t be quite as straight forward a decision as that, surely? But I don’t know, that opposite view is never really given.

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The show has only made 2 episodes so theres not been time to really debate anything. Perhaps we could bring someone on for a guest spot to argue for Nvidia but Ryan’s full reason isn’t anti-Nvidia.

Ryan is a fan of AMD because AMD is innovating and doing it well. In addition, AMD is also embraced Open Source where as Nvidia is still proprietary and whatnot. Ryan isn’t anti-Nvidia either, he just thinks that AMD is doing much more interesting things and supports that effort. I think most people in the space agree with that because Nvidia has been just making gradual iterations for like a decade.

Its the same thing that Intel did as well . . . they just sat in their place of being at the top and didn’t innovate. Now AMD is forcing Intel to compete as well . . . even if people do use AMD they should still appreciate the effort they are doing if only to challenge the competition to up their game.

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If you take Linux out of the picture, NVIDIA makes better cards. Outside of Linux, people use AMD graphics cards because they generally offer better price to performance and perhaps for reasons like Ryan’s, maintaining that NVIDIA is complacent and not innovating.

Within the Linux-verse, I would say most people who care about their graphics cards prefer AMD because they provide open-source drivers in the kernel and conform to existing Linux standards, while NVIDIA forces installation of their separate proprietary drivers (which are a pain and tend to break if you stray too far from the stock kernel) and refuses to do things the way the rest of the community has decided upon (see Wayland.) Linux users on NVIDIA graphics, in my experience, fall into three categories:

  1. People who actually prefer NVIDIA. There are some (I believe @zebedee.boss may be able to shed some light on this) who would argue that the performance benefits outweigh the headaches. These folks will also point out that a few games’ native Linux ports (done by both Feral and Aspyr!) only support NVIDIA graphics cards.
  2. High-end laptop users. Those of us who want good dedicated graphics in a laptop have really only had one choice until very recently, and that was Team Green. Until very recently, AMD didn’t even make chips for this use case. These users additionally have to deal with NVIDIA Optimus switchable graphics, which is a whole other kettle of fish which still doesn’t have even close to parity with Windows unless you have a very new card.
  3. People who came to Linux with NVIDIA hardware. The Steam Hardware & Software Survey shows that Team Green is indisputably in the lead among gamers, who are the majority of (though not the only) people who care about graphics cards. Chances are, if you have a dedicated graphics card and you’ve just come over to Linux from Windows, you’re on NVIDIA, and you’re probably not going to throw your multiple-hundred-dollar card out the window just to avoid NVIDIA’s driver shenanigans. This, combined with the laptop users, means that the number of Linux users on NVIDIA is probably a lot higher than the number of Linux users users who prefer NVIDIA.

Really informative, I feel I understand it a bit better now, thank you!

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Thanks, everyone - really enjoyed this and looking forward to further episodes, though I’m behind already :slight_smile: I did research in hardware-software co-design a long time ago but have fallen behind somewhat on hardware developments. I’m most interested in processor architecture designs from all of the topics you covered, though also really good to hear about electric cars. Haven’t read all the science behind this, but reducing CO2 emissions in every way possible does seem like a good thing!

BTW @MichaelTunnell wow - another talent you have that’s previously been hidden! The mystery behind your delivery of the term “Thread Ripper” should certainly see you providing voice-overs for DLN show trailers :wink:



Could you please discuss hybrid graphics on the show (Intel + Nvidia as this is most common, but others like Intel + AMD and AMD + AMD would also be interesting to hear)? What is it, what advantage does it have in general and on Linux in particular, how to make it work, how to figure out if it actually works, and is it worth a headache to make it work?

What solutions are out there to support it in Linux (different distros, not just obvious like PopOs or Ubuntu but also Debian stable, Arch, OpenSuse, Gentoo etc).

What drivers are required to support it? Can it be supported in Linux on older machine (e.g. I have T520 with Intel and Quadro NVS 4200M, can it work in hybrid graphics setup under linux)?

Also would be good to hear about difference between nouveau and nvidia drivers and how much nouveau is behind. Is it at least on par for older nvidia cards (e.g. for the same 4200M, or for older FX770M etc) or is it nowhere close in performance even for older cards?


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lol I can actually do a lot of voices including cartoon characters from some tv shows BUT I dont use them very often for podcasting. :smiley:

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Hmm. I think an Elma Fudd (sp?) impression, or Bugs Bunny, would be much appreciated somewhere along the lines. I’m sure, if necessary, as a community we could figure out an innovative way of linking this into the world of Linux :slight_smile: