Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Necromancer

The title of this blog post also happens to be the name of the book I'm reading. Perhaps I've just been inspired to do a little necromancy of my own, but with less cadavers and more circuit board.

I'll explain; let's start with the fact that something's been bugging me. My desktop PC does not have a discreet GPU (video card).

You might be thinking, "WTF, and you call yourself an electronics freak?!" Well, you've got me there, but I do have reasons. One primary reason is that I'm not a gamer anymore. I do almost everything on this laptop nowadays, and I only took my desktop out of storage a few weeks ago so that I could get a decent VM box running in the basement next to my HTPC and my Cisco lab hardware.

However, my integrated GPU (despite it being a reasonably beefy AMD HD 3200) just ain't cuttin' it for some of the video processing and RemoteFX stuff I'd like to mess around with.

Fortunately, I have an NVIDIA 8800 GTS in a static bag that should do what I need it to do. Unfortunately, it's going to take a little more than me popping this sucker into my PC to get it running.

Problem #1: The graphics card does not have an enclosure for the heat sink; the fan cannot circulate air to keep it cool.

Problem #2: It's damaged goods. (Okay, I lied, the card isn't entirely dead. But someone who brings sick people back to life is a doctor, and that's a lot less fun than being a Necromancer!) It displays bands of pixels vertically across the screen that are visible during the boot process, which means it's a hardware issue, not a driver problem. Additionally, it usually won't boot into Windows, causing the system to hang when the operating system is starting up. On the rare chance it does make the boot into Windows, graphics are horribly distorted.

So, I'm screwed, right? Hell no! I wouldn't pass up an opportunity like this! Read on to see how I got this old workhorse running again.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Smartbench 2011: your multi-core benchmark

Smartbench 2011 is now on the Android market! I encourage everyone who likes to benchmark to download and use this excellent tool. (Insert disclaimer: benchmarks are benchmarks, nothing more; they should not be used as proof for anything.)

It's the successor to Smartbench 2010, which I've done a lot of testing with on behalf of it's developer, Acei, the admin over at Smartbench 2010 demonstrated itself to be an excellent benchmark, working far better than some of the alternatives, (coughQuadrantcough).

Smartbench 2011 takes it a step further with multi-core support, as well as a really cool benchmark score aggregator that displays the scores of like-clocked phones and those running the same custom ROM averaged together. Thus, not only does it show you what phones are performing best in the benchmark, but what ROMs and overclocks are dominating the field.

Even if you don't have a dual-core phone, it's a worthy improvement over Smartbench 2010, and a far cry better than the-benchmark-that-shall-not-be-named.

Tegra 2 vs OMAP 4 vs Cortex-A8 vs 2nd-gen Snapdragon

AndroidAndMe has done up a pretty decent comparo of the current Android smartphone kings:

Ugh, my blog posts are getting lazy. I've been getting my networking lab put back together though and hopefully I'll be able to start doing some real posts again!