CheckUp is an easy-to-use multipurpose maintenance utility that can help you monitor and improve your Mac's performance. Its very visual interface uses colorful and dynamic icons, graphs, and dials to display performance and data over eight different categories: Profile (including uptime and a bandwidth tally), System (especially great for seeing which OS your Mac can handle), Processors (twin dials for dual processors, plus a temperature monitor), Memory (configuration, usage, and testing), Disks (all partitions, with an option for repairing permissions), Network (showing input and output in a customizable graph), Processes (a prettier, more flexible version of OS X's … Read more
For Nvidia, the success of its widely-rumored Intel-compatible x86 technology is, to put it charitably, uncertain. And comments from an analyst Monday point to marketing challenges.
Amid the rumors about a skunkworks project at Nvidia to develop an x86 technology that would compete at some level with Intel and Advanced Micro Devices, the obvious--though often overlooked--fact is that Nvidia would face multifarious challenges.
A research note Monday from Broadpoint AmTech analyst Doug Freedman (who downgraded Nvidia to "sell") pointed to some of the marketing challenges. Though Freedman says recent actions by the Federal Trade Commission "could open … Read more
Process Lasso is an interesting tool for speeding up your computer. By prioritizing its processes, this program helps improve an operating system's performance.
The program's interface is both helpful-looking, with a clean design and simple charts, and discouraging, with some highly technical command options. We were constantly spending time with and revisiting the program's Help file for instructions. The program's display clearly showcased all currently running processes and provided a suspected CPU usage chart--"suspected," because it didn't explain what any of the three bar charts represented. The visual aids were nice, but … Read more
The icons that reside in the Windows notification area (near the clock in the taskbar) convey much useful information at a glance. Is my network link live? How's my notebook's battery? Is there really yet another Windows update ready to be installed?
But one bit of information I often want to know is how much of my CPU is in use at any given time. Now the notification area gives me the lowdown on my processor as well. All I did was add a Task Manager shortcut to Windows' start-up folder and set the shortcut to open minimized.… Read more
The FTC wants Intel to grow up and start acting like a responsible company.
At least that's the goal behind the agency's lawsuit against the chipmaker. Filed on Wednesday, the FTC's suit charges Intel with a host of offenses, including using threats and rewards to convince PC makers not to buy chips from the competition, altering its compiler to weaken the performance of rival chips like those made by AMD, and preserving its CPU monopoly by stifling the market for GPUs (graphics processing units) made by Nvidia and other manufacturers.
On Wednesday, the FTC held a press … Read more
The Federal Trade Commission announced Wednesday that it is suing Intel, claiming that the chip giant has illegally used its dominance to stymie competition and to strengthen its own monopoly.
In so doing, says the FTC, the company has robbed consumers of both choice and innovation in microprocessors, including those that outshone Intel's own: "Intel's anticompetitive tactics were designed to put the brakes on superior competitive products that threatened its monopoly in the CPU microchip market."
The failures included RISC processors, media processors, and intelligent RAM chips, which all sank in spite of clearly demonstrable advantages over alternative solutions. The great success is the programmable graphics processing unit (GPU), which has succeeded in spite of the sometimes wrenching shifts in programming methods and PC system architecture that have been required to support it.
So what's the secret? Simply this: a factor-of-two advantage, even if it'… Read more
In the first part of this series, I claimed that a great secret in the microprocessor industry largely determines whether new products succeed or fail.
I noted that this secret shouldn't be a secret at all because many people (including myself) have talked about it over the years, but clearly a lot of people are in the dark because they continually disregard it and develop products that are doomed.
I gave several examples of products that failed because their creators didn't know the great secret. Those products included RISC processors, media processors, and intelligent RAM chips, in which processor cores were integrated with memory to eliminate one of the great bottlenecks in computer performance.
During my eight years at Microprocessor Report, I covered the markets for media processors, 3D-graphics chips, network processors, and what I coined extreme processors--chips with large numbers of simple cores running in parallel. Many of these chips were cheaper, easier to design, and twice as fast as competing products--and still failed.
However, some did succeed. The critical factor that made the difference in most of these cases is the essence of the so-called secret.
One of those successes is the graphics processing unit, or GPU.
I was reminded again of the secret at Nvidia's recent GPU Technology Conference, where many of the talks dealt with GPU computing.
(Disclosure: I recently wrote a technical white paper for Nvidia.)
Although the GPU field dates back only five or six years, GPUs have already earned a place alongside CPUs. Each is clearly superior for certain kinds of applications.
This is true in spite of the fact that GPUs aren't nearly as easy to program as CPUs. Like other forms of parallel programming, GPU programming requires new hardware (the GPU itself), significant new extensions for programming languages, and a different mindset for programmers--one that simply wasn't part of standard computer-science curriculum for most of the last 50 years.
I like Japanese artist Mio Lizawa because he's the kind of guy who sits around and thinks, "My, wouldn't it be great if my PC had some sort of pulsating, frightening, brain-like thing hanging out of the side of it?" and then goes out and builds just such a thing.
"Mechanical Tumor" is art. At least I think it is. And it's functional: the more CPU usage his computer is experiencing, the larger the, uh, thing gets. Write a letter to grandma and it sits there rather quietly. Start playing Warcraft and it … Read more
Intel's share of the global CPU market hit a four-year high in the second quarter of 2009, says a report released Monday by market researcher iSuppli.
Thanks to a slight uptick in PC sales, Intel captured 80.6 percent of microprocessor revenue worldwide, growing from 79.1 percent in the first quarter of the year and 79.2 percent in the second quarter of 2008. This is the largest slice of the market Intel's had since its 82.4 percent share in 2005.
The gain in Intel's market share came at the expense of AMD, which saw … Read more