Excerpted from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 26th of January, 2017 by Rachel Bronson, PhD, Executive Director and Publisher.
We quote the bulletin at length.
The Doomsday Clock has advanced 30 seconds. We’re two and a half minutes to midnight. And that underscores the incredible times we’re living in. Citizens of Tech, there’s never been a better time to be informed about your world, educated about technology, and connected to your fellow humans.
And in that spirit, we bring you this show. Eric, what will we share with our citizenry today?
We’re going to talk about potential uses for that spare mac mini you have sitting around, how much I hate to love my new phone, Solar roof sales are… through the roof (deal with it), Intel and AMD’s new CPU architectures, converting 80 years of film to HDR, I’m not a millionaire, two deathwatch discussions, Today I Learned and more – but we’ll lead off with your spare Mac Mini, Ethan.
What should Ethan do with a spare Mac mini?
- 16GB, i7, 1TB Fusion drive.
- Home automation center? Is there such a thing?
- Media server such as Plex?
- VMware ESXi? Linux?
Eric HATES TO love his new phone.
- Android vs. Apple discussion.
Solar roof tile update
- Orders exceeded Tesla’s expectations.
- Pilot manufacturing in Fremont soon. Volume production in Buffalo soon after.
- Other slowdowns to installation will be installers.
- On the plus side, they’ve received the Underwriters Laboratories “Class A” roofing classification, which should help with permitting. Greasing the skids with local bodies that give building permits was the impression we got.
Intel X-Series i9 CPUs vs AMD “Threadripper”
- This is all about HEDT – the “High End Desktop” market
- Kaby Lake X – different socket, Socket 2066 – clock speeds go up nominally compared to the non-X variety for similar price.
- Skylake is where things get more interesting…
- Based loosely on the Xeon architecture
- 1MB per core of dedicated L2 cache (4x improvement)
- Shared cache is actually reduced – which should net performance improvements, since latency of private cache is significantly less than shared – no scheduling, etc.
- Supports 4 memory channels
- Clock speeds (and everything else, besides price) are unknown above the 10-core SKU, leaving us to wonder about the 12, 14, 16, and 18 core variants.
- AMD Competitor “Threadripper”
- 16 cores & 32 threads vs Intel’s 18 cores and 36 threads
- Quad-channel DDR4
- 64 PCIe lanes vs Intel’s max of 44 –
- All Threadripper SKUs will have all 64 lanes – Intel will only have 44 lanes on CPUs over $1,000.
- Whoopie….What does that mean? That means theoretically you could have 4x GTX 1080 Ti cards running at 16x….
- Price: A rumored price point of $849 for the “entry level” 16 core Zen Threadripper (there will apparently be a few 16 core chips with differing clock speeds) vs. Intel’s 16 core i9 for $1,699.
- Motherboards certainly won’t be cheap for either of these new chip families.
Converting 80 years of film to HDR
- This is about color.
- “Researchers at the French research institute Bcom, with the aid of a wunderkind plucked from a nearby university, have developed software that converts existing SDR (standard dynamic range) video into HDR (high dynamic range) video. That is, the software can take almost all of the colour video content produced by humanity over the last 80 years and widen its dynamic range, increasing the brightness, contrast ratio, and number of colours displayed on-screen.”
- For purists, this might seem sketchy. You’re creating colors that weren’t originally there, so are you experiencing the film as the creators intended.
- Maybe that’s the wrong question. If it looks better to people, then maybe that’s a selling point.
- What’s really going on here? Luminance. “…while conventional SDR/HDTV content (and thus SDR displays) maxes out at around 100 nits of luminance (which is very dim), HDR-certified displays tend to be in the 1,000+ nits range. So, that’s where Bcom’s SDR-to-HDR work begins: by amping up the luminance of SDR images.”
- The HDR lighting profile works frame by frame. They don’t just come up with a profile for an entire video and apply it. Analysis of frame contrast and lightness results in one of five lighting styles: “dark key, low key, medium key, bright key, and high key.”
- The algorithm was tweaked based on human input. “The various tone expansion maps went through a few different rounds of testing with expert and non-expert human viewers to find the right luminance level.”
- Color correction was also added, to compensate for washout that can happen when amping up the luminance.
- A number of broadcasters have bought into the system.
- Broadcasters have to invest in some fancy hardware to make it work, and it’s not optimized yet. And then there’s the issue of you being able to receive it on live TV vs. streamed content, etc. And you’ll need an HDR capable set. And then there’s the issue of competing standards, HDR10 vs. HLG (hybrid log gamma). HDR10 is supported in more sets, so…Bluray vs. Betamax redux. 😉
- Optimization is the next big step. “The next step is to optimise the algorithm so that it runs at a decent speed on CPUs (it currently takes between three and 10 minutes to convert one minute of SDR footage), and a cloud-based service is being worked on. Other possibilities, such as a real-time converter attached to an existing SDR camera or simply licensing out the IP, are also being considered.”
Why Eric is not a millionaire
- Eric had 200 bitcoins worth a total of roughly $16 at one point.
- Bitcoin broke $2,483 per coin recently
- That’s around $496,600 that I don’t have
- I’m okay with that…?
- They’ve got the FF91 vehicle out there, but a facility to make it is the difficulty right now.
- Employees are leaving, including some key folks.
- Electrek reports that folks who have left include the, “director of vehicle purchasing, technical lead for self-driving sensors, senior engineering manager for chassis, technical program manager for digital products, director of electrical engineering and software, and more.”
- They need $1B to move ahead. But Jia Yueting from LeEco (the NetFlix of China), has put $300M in already, and isn’t going to put in more.
- The facility construction in Nevada hasn’t gotten very far, having achieved grading, and that’s about it.
- Seems doomed to me. Surely, the tech lands somewhere, though…
- All the more respect must be given to what Tesla has achieved to break into automotive manufacturing.
Update on Uber (joined Deathwatch in episode 57)
- Cash bleeding, but not as bad as it was.
- “In the first three months of 2017, the company lost $708 million on revenues of $3.4 billion. That might sound disastrous, but it’s actually an improvement for the ride-hailing company…”
- The golden runway goes on for a while. “Uber told the WSJ that it still has $7.2 billion left in its coffers and that “the narrowing of our losses in the first quarter puts us on a good trajectory towards profitability.””
Today I Learned
microLED is the presumed successor to OLED.
“microLED, also known as micro-LED, mLED or µLED, is an emerging flat panel display technology. As the name implies, mLED displays consist of arrays of microscopic LEDs forming the individual pixel elements. Compared to the widespread LCD technology, mLED displays offer far greater contrast, much faster response times, and would use less energy.”
And remember everyone. For all the tasks you have set before you this week, MAXIMUM EFFORT.