More On Mars Curiosity’s Processor

Interesting IAmA on reddit with the Mars Curiosity team. Lots of great stuff but being a programmer this caught my eye:

You are right that the processor does feel acient. Our current smarthphones are more powerful. The reasoning for this is three-fold. First of all, the computer was selected about 8 years ago, so we have the latest and greated space certified parts that existed then. Second of all, it was the most rubost and proven space grade processor at that time. Thirdly, in order to make a processor radiation hardened it requires lots of tricks on the silicon that is not conducive to making it fast. Given that, it does not run any GUIs and can just focus on raw programming, and actually gets a lot done. All of the programming is done in C, and our toolchain is very similar to programming on any platform.

-JG (presumably Jonny Grinblat aka “Pre-celebration Guy” – Avionics System Engineer)

I did mention a few days ago specifically about the CPU and how it’s really similar to the Power Mac G3’s of the late 90’s.


New G4 upgrade cards

Sonnet Technologies has announced new upgrades for the G3’s!

The new Encore/ZIF G4 800 MHz and 1.0 GHz models are shipping now:
Encore/ZIF G4 800 MHz-1M EG4-800-1M $349.95
Encore/ZIF G4 1.0 GHz-1M EG4-1000-1M-U $499.95

NOTE: Encore/ZIF 1.0 GHz models with the part number EG4-1000-1M (without -U) are compatible only with Beige G3 models, and should not be purchased
for use in a Blue & White or G4 PCI Graphics.

The Encore/ZIF G4 700 will be available at a new lower price while
supplies last, and is compatible only with Apple Beige G3 models:
Encore/ZIF G4 700MHz-1M EG4-700-1M $299.95
(price drop from $349.95)

Sonnet’s Entry-level Encore/ZIF G4s

Sonnet continues to offer its entry-level of award-winning Encore/ZIF

G4 model, which is compatible with all Beige G3s, Blue & White G3
Towers, and PCI Graphics G4 Towers. The MSRPs on this model is:
Encore/ZIF G4 500 EG4-500-1M $199.95

I wish I could get one of those. I got a Beige G3 Fileserver, itching for more CPU, and a B&W desktop that could use one as well. Even a G4/500 would be quite an enhancement to the Beige G3. Quite expensive though.


Panther Coming Soon

Apple Announced Mac OS X Panther ships in a few day (October 24th to be exact). I’m excited, but I doubt I will upgrade very soon. In all honesty, I just moved to 10.2 rather recently. Why you may ask? Because I value my stability, and upgrading always introduces new issues. My system is running great, I don’t get to use it that much (on this Wintel laptop during the week)… So why upgrade?

Mac OS X 10.2 is really good. I love it. The performance is good, so is the stability. As long as I can patch it to meet my needs, it stays.

Not to mention 10.3 isn’t officially supported on my Beige G3 server, and I don’t feel like using unofficial patches at this time. My B&W G3 could take it, but I don’t see a clear advantage to upgrading at this time.

Perhaps Apple would realize that it would be better to do more incremental free upgrades, rather than charge $100+/year to upgrade to the latest. Smaller upgrades to less damage. Giving it’s clientele an OS that’s always updated with no costs is very attractive to home users, especially with MS doing all this “Activation” and licensing stuff.

Home users aren’t very inclined to upgrade, it looks technical. So if it costs money… They don’t want to bother. Leaving users running several versions of OS X, and making work harder for developers.

Free smaller upgrades are more attractive, as they encourage people to upgrade. Making the Mac OS community more consistent with OS version, hence more attractive to developers.

It’s less work to support just 1 version, than several. Keeping users as close to this as possible would be more beneficial, than the current method. Not to mention free OS is very enticing to potential Wintel converts.