Is this the best 65W CPU you can buy today?

I think that if today I had to build a new machine, I’d probably take this CPU for it, on a B650 mainboard. Twelve cores and twenty-four threads should be plenty for about everything, and since platform costs are high for the new AM5 series systems anyway, it doesn’t make too much sense to save on the CPU itself. I’d probably take a good after-market cooler still, even if the provided one is adequate already. Oh, and I’d only add a graphics card if that was my main use case, like rendering graphics or so – for all others, the built-in graphics should be fine, like they are with Intel as well. Add 32 or even 64GB of RAM in case you’ll plan to use big sample libraries for music or so, and that would be a wonderful machine.

As are ours, both Mitchie’s and my machines have the AMD 5700G “APU” which are 8-core/16-thread CPUs with built-in 8-core graphics, so the graphics are a bit better than in the newer ones, otherwise a new 6-core would beat ours. These are 65W processors as well.

Oh, and Zuleikha is mostly using Mitchie’s birthday present from 2019 now, so we’re all set… and notebooks are the ultimate in power saving 🙂

Like always, thanks for reading.

“Shaky” internet

Since the beginning of this year, our internet connection was “shaky” at best, as both daughter & wife called it. And indeed, a short search confirmed that we weren’t the only ones having problems with our provider.

So I have been looking up FTTH offers again, but there aren’t any – yet. Once they will offer it here, I’ll be one of the first ones who want it. And as soon as I had finished that thought, two cable guys rang and came looking, seems that even in the same building we weren’t the only ones…

So until this is sorted out I guess I will take the very good advice from Wikiloops whenever an elephant steps on that landline:

“… we recommend making some music in the meantime …”

Thanks to Richard for the good advice, and thanks to you for reading.

Site stats, and some first news

Looking at the statistics of this website, I see the following for the past year:

awstats for lonien.de

Yes, that’s about 40,000 different visitors coming in about 200,000 times in the past year – never thought we’d get that many visitors; cool. Thank you for your interest.

News, category bad: Anita Pointer died last night, the third of the four Pointer Sisters. RIP, and thank you for everything you did, ladies. I embedded one of their songs into a forum on Wikiloops in case you want to hear a great and funky tune.

News, category good: LineageOS 20 which is equivalent to Android 13 is out. When I looked yesterday, the download images weren’t online yet, but they seem to appear right now – I saw the one for my Pixel 4a, so I can prolong its life when Google will drop the support for it in August. Maybe until then there’s even the version with microG available so that I won’t have to install the original Google services. Please do this if you own older phones, instead of throwing them away.

Like always, thanks for reading.

Happy New Year 2023

To all our family, friends, and readers of this: have a happy new year 2023 everyone. Be well and safe.

Scene from “Dinner for one” starring Freddie Frinton and May Warden, © NDR, Foto: Annemarie Aldag

Like always, thanks for reading.

Changed to dark mode…

I decided to change both my desktop and also this site to dark mode – first it’s easier on the eyes especially in the evenings, second it also saves some energy if your monitors or phone displays are darker. So we’re back to like the old days when monitors always had a black background, and the colours for the text was either green, amber, or grey…

It’s time that all website software can adapt to the general system settings, like some apps on phones already do. Some pages have it, like the German Tagesschau Online – if you’re using a dark theme in your browser, then their site also uses that. Would have to look up how they used and programmed that, and then find out if there are themes for WordPress which can also detect the general system or at least the browsers’ settings.

Oh, and I went back to a colour version of the header picture of myself, taken by Diana Kaiser at the Wikiloops members’ meeting in Steinfeld, 2018 – thanks again for the nice photo 🙂

Anyway, hope you’ll like the change. And like always, thanks for reading.

You might see images vanish from this blog

I’m just deleting a lot of stuff from Flickr, where I just cancelled my rare but unlimited) pro subscription. That got more and more expensive over the years, and starting next month they wanted to charge me >70$ per year (when I started, it was about <45$ per 2 years). And since non-pro members are now restricted to a maximum of 1,000 photos I decided to delete everything except those from Tuna (RIP), and now our neighbours’ cats.

And that might affect images here, especially those on older blog posts, or even the ones showing my albums as widgets and links to Wikiloops. Wouldn’t matter much, I can still replace them with the album images from the ‘loops.

With my official retirement starting end of January, I’ll have to cut some expenses, so everything not really necessary will have to go. Thanks for your understanding.

Edit: [x] done replacing the flick album cover images with local ones. And this is what I will lose (or in fact have lost already): unlimited space…

I had one of the old unlimited pro accounts – now it’s gone…

This is interesting…

This

Could it be that not everyone sees it as an improvement if new CPUs run at 95°C and draw over 200 Watts out of your wall sockets? With ever shrinking dies and conducting paths, energy saving could have been the goal, not beating Intel in frames per second in computer games. Who wants to draw 500 or more Watts just for gaming? Don’t these CEOs learn and think? Just look at Apple, their M2 chips are the ones to beat, not Intel’s…

My 5700G is perfect, and idling at less than 20 Watts while I’m writing this… and AMD’s 7000 series could have been so much better than that, it’s a shame to see what they did instead.

A new PC build – just in time

Thanks to a friend who sent me a present lately (you know who you are), I decided to build a new PC for myself. I had built one for my wife earlier this year, and after waiting for the first reports about newer stuff like the new AMD Ryzen processor family I thought that that’s *not* the direction I wanted to go – these newer ones consume power just like Intel processors, and I wanted something a bit less power thirsty. ARM is the future (see Apple), but for normal PC builds we don’t have anything usable yet, so I decided to take more or less the same parts of the build for my wife, but in a smaller case. Here’s what I chose:

Parts for my PC build in October 2022

Here’s a parts list in case you’re interested:

So that would be my first Mini-ITX build, and I was really looking forward to it when the first of these parts arrived last Tuesday:

7e6_a044818-pc-parts-oct-4th-2022
PC parts for a new build, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2022

The case (and mainboard) arrived a day later:

7e6_a054819-pc-parts-oct-5th-2022
PC case for a new build, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2022

And last Friday, I had the new machine up and running beside the old one:

7e6_a074825-new-pc
My finished and running new PC, Mörfelden-Walldorf 2022

Of course, building a machine and setting it up to use it are separate steps. First I thought about what I’d need or want, and after copying over my Windows 10 partition it offered me to upgrade that to Win11 more or less right away. I thought: “Why not?”, since I use that only for the Olympus (now “OM System”) raw image converter. In the end I decided for a clean installation tho – you need a Microsoft account even for the Pro version of Windows I had, so it made no difference, and I wanted to start with a more clean plate. So soon enough I was done with that, and greeted by that newer operating system:

Finished my Win11 installation on late Saturday
Ooops – not quite done yet…

First impressions of it are positive – in my opinion it got the looks almost like Apple does, and for its internals they borrowed many good ideas from both the BSD and also the Linux side of things. Even their Edge browser which I tried only briefly seemed to show me less ads and other annoying stuff than (Google’s) Chrome would. But ok, this ain’t the OS for surfing, not for me anyway, so on to more pleasant things…

After looking at many options like Arch, the new beta of Fedora Workstation and so on, I decided against a triple boot this time. I wanted to keep things easy and just set up for my personal use (music, photography, blogging, and so on), so except for Windows which didn’t get that much space I took about three quarter of the space on the new SSD for Debian, so here you go:

Debian 11 “Bullseye”, but with a newer kernel

What you see is Debian stable (which is currently nicknamed “Bullseye”). In the upper right hand corner you see the processor temperature and fan speeds reported by a Gnome desktop extension called “Freon”, and under that you see that I have installed a kernel 5.18 from the Debian bullseye-backports repository, otherwise you wouldn’t see those fan speeds, and the Intel WiFi chip which is integrated into the mainboard wants a newer kernel as well – I knew that already from Mitchie’s machine where wireless and Bluetooth started working with Ubuntu 21.10 (instead of their older 20.04 LTS).

So this morning I was about ready, and short after lunch I was greeted by TEE-KWA’s pretty cover picture on Wikiloops:

Wikiloops’ album of the day on my new machine

Of course I also installed and tried Ardour, my Digital Audio Workstation of choice, and within it, the headphone correction by Sonarworks:

Ardour with gimproviser’s wonderful song “Cloudy
Sonarworks correction for my Sennheiser HD560S headphones in the monitoring section of Ardour

So, regarding music and photography and blogging, this more or less completes my build.

Which was, coming back to the headline of this article, just in time. I wanted to give my old machine to my brother, but alas, it gave up its ghost just after I was finished building this one. Broken heart syndrome on a CPU? Hm, that would be something new even for old timer PC doctors like me… anyway, I tried lots of things today, but it seems we’re out of luck with that one. So yeah, phew, that *was* just in time! To really ‘nail it down’ to a single not working component, I’d need to have a bench and spare parts like Jay so I could change each part and see what/who the culprit is… still sorting out if my brother – who lives in a much bigger city than we do – maybe has neighbours who are hobby PC builders with enough parts for that.

So for me, and thanks to my friend, it’s this new one from now. So cool… and by the way, 8 cores and 16 threads are way more than enough for what I do… still these machines are waiting for us most of the time, not vice versa 🙂

And like always, thanks for reading.

GAS, FOMO, or an embarrassment of riches?

Beginning of next year, I’ll officially retire. Which means that from then on, I’ll have much less income compared to what I’ve had during the last years, or even now. And when a friend from Paris recently mentioned that he was thinking about building a new computer for himself “which will have to last a few years” as he said, I started thinking about my own one.

I have a self-built computer (all of ours are, except the notebooks) based upon a “Haswell” processor, which was Intel’s internal code name for their 4th generation Core series. To be more precise, it’s the Intel Core i5-4460. That CPU together with 16GB of RAM sits on an Asus Z97M-Plus Micro-ATX mainboard, is cooled by some top-blowing Scythe Shuriken, and inside a very nice (with a thick aluminium! front plate) Antec 2480 case.

I’m running mostly Debian Linux, and for looking at newer stuff, I also often dual-boot into Arch Linux. On Debian I have set the CPU ‘governor’ profile to ‘performance’, which means that it’s always running at 3.2GHz (on Arch it’s mostly at 800MHz) – that’s because Ardour, my main program or ‘application’ as they are called nowadays complains if you don’t use a real-time kernel, and the CPU at ‘performance’ mode.

And while running Ardour together with some Sonarworks headphone correction software does make use of that older processor a bit, I’m far from really demanding anything of it – the CPU Usage in these cases stays around 25-30% as long as I don’t use lots of plugins in each channel/track of the DAW (digital audio workstation). While reading internet pages in a browser, or while writing, the CPU is kind of bored as you could say, and I’m also far from using much of the RAM as you can see on my partly screenshot from conky:

(Part of) conky on my computer

So I’m kind of very happy with that machine, and I doubt if I need more than that. Okay, when making videos I sometimes wait for it a bit, but as you can see, in the vast majority of times, my computer waits for me rather than vice versa.

So why am I thinking about a new one? Is that because of GAS, or FOMO? Funny side note about that term of ‘GAS’: it doesn’t have an English Wikipedia page, only German, Spanish, French, and Portuguese ones – although the term is cited to come from the late Walter Becker of Steely Dan fame…

No, it’s the thought my Parisian friend had, about “having to last for a while”. As you can see from the link to my CPU, it was discontinued in 2017, and also the mainboard, RAM, and everything else including that wonderful case aren’t available any more (which is sad, because some things like nice *and* small computer cases are vanishing at frightening and accelerating paces, with a downward spiral of ‘cheaper’ ruining most of the quality we were used to in my opinion).

So what would I do if my computer fails, and I won’t have much of an income any more? Well, yes, using an older notebook with a dual core Celeron and only 2GB of RAM, or even my mobile phone. Both of these would be more than good enough to read internet news (who does still know that term?), or for ‘surfing on the internet’ (and who does still know that book?) – but to work a bit on Wikiloops, or to make music with Ardour? I could forget about this…

And that is why I’m thinking about building a new computer for myself, although I have a wonderful and perfectly fine working one right now. So it’s hopefully not an ‘embarrassment of riches‘ in this case, and also no gear acquisition syndrome.

So what *am I* thinking about?

Well during the beginning of this year, it was my wife who had the oldest machine in the house, and a close relative had no working computer at all. So we gave her old Core Duo away for free, and I built her what at that point in time I would also have built for myself – a machine based upon an AMD Ryzen 7 5700G processor on an Asus (full ATX-sized) mainboard, with 32GB or RAM (both double the size and speed of mine), and a 2TB M.2 SSD. So, this one:

AMD Ryzen 7 5700G processor

This one is already kind of ‘old’ as well now, since later this month, AMD will start selling the next generation which they call the Ryzen 7000 series. These will *all* have graphics cores, so the 8-core equivalent processor to the one above will be the Ryzen 7 7700X I guess. And my friend from Paris even talked about getting a Ryzen 9 one (so with 12 or 16 cores). Perfectly fine, except that they will cost quite a bit more then the outgoing 5000 series, and also demand newer and also more costly mainboards (with at least a B650 chipset, these will be introduced on October 4th), and also with DDR5 RAM instead of DDR4 (or my DDR3).

So which one to get, that is the said question? Keep it cheap and cheerful with “Zen3”, or wait and pay quite a bit more for the newer “Zen4” one? Both options would be better than to go with Intel and their ill-named “Intel 7” architecture which in fact is still based on a 10nm process (and I hate liars and marketing people who just “pretty up” (non-)facts). Zen3 is 7 *real* nanometers, Zen4 will be 5nm, an architecture as small as the one on iPhones. Take that, Intel – and of course this will again help in saving energy as well (while our machines are waiting for us).

Keep that last bracket in mind – most of the time, the *vast* majority of time, computers are waiting for us, and not vice versa. Which means that a *faster* computer will be waiting *faster* for you and me, idling at higher clock speeds, consuming more power – for nothing. So yes, energy efficiency is a big point for me (us) – we never bought or built machines with dedicated graphics cards for instance, since first we’re no gamers (and for any 3D games Zuleikha also has a Nintendo Switch), secondly because these graphics cards would also be idling most of the time, and *when* being used, these consume up to 300 Watts – for comparison, my machine while waiting for me in the picture above takes slightly over 30 Watts (the processor has a TDP of 88W), and Mitchie’s machine is around 20 Watts doing the same (her processor has a TDP of 65W). That’s still more than a good notebook would take, but well…

So while Intel’s processors caught up a bit, mostly due to improvements in the Linux kernel as a recent article on Phoronix shows, they are still drawing up to 240 Watts out of your wall socket even without any graphics cards – so they’re out of the question. The Zen4 processors start at 105W TDP, mostly – I guess – because they want to catch up with Intel’s brute power single core results, don’t know if I’d really need that. But of course, 5nm against 7nm for Zen3, so in theory while doing the same, the newer ones should take less power. Guess I’ll have to wait for the first benchmarks and comparison tests, so until October. Earlier ones will be made on X670 mainboards which are simply overkill for most of us (except maybe some gamers, or whom are they going to impress with that kind of overbuilding things?).

Time to steer back a bit in my humble opinion, and to think about what we really need. Normal ‘web surfing’ is best done on mobile phones since quite a while, notebooks are way more efficient than desktop computers, and the latter ones could be made to other standards than pure and max power performance I think…

Plus, the maximum efficiency is of course only achieved when using your computer(s) as long as you can. Which means that for me – inflation also considered – I should perhaps lay some money on the side for later; not for now. And if ‘later’ means that I wouldn’t be able to buy a Zen3 (or Ryzen 5000) machine anymore – well that’s the way things are going; can’t change much of that. Plus, who knows, maybe there still *are* improvements which are good for us all?

Like always, thanks for reading.

P.S.: I just read on ZDNet (one of the better online magazines) about Linus Torvalds and his M2 MacBook Air and self-built home computers… very interesting, very much my thoughts – except that I definitely wouldn’t need an AMD Threadripper 😉

P.P.S.: above thought about laying some money aside and to wait and see how long mine will keep working is exactly what Mitchie proposed – sounds clever to me 😉