[Tfug] "Downgrading" ("underclocking?") processors

John Hubbard ender8282 at yahoo.com
Thu Feb 20 18:23:18 MST 2014

On 02/19/2014 09:38 PM, Bexley Hall wrote:
> Hi John,
> [I guess the oranges can wait a while...]
> On 2/19/2014 9:29 PM, John Hubbard wrote:
>> On 02/19/2014 12:32 PM, Bexley Hall wrote:
>>> On 2/18/2014 9:06 PM, Zack Williams wrote:
>>>> On Tue, Feb 18, 2014 at 8:03 PM, Bexley Hall<bexley401 at yahoo.com> 
>>>> wrote:
>>>> They also will have varying speeds depending on the
>>>> power/heat dissipation Intel, for example, can sell a chip that
>>>> supports 7W, 10W and 13W power modes, with the vendor determining
>>>> which they want to use:
>>> I'm not worrying about "designed from scratch". There, I can look
>>> at my power and thermal budgets and "optimize to fit". (though
>>> most of my hardware is ARM-based and an order of magnitude less
>>> power -- think hundreds of milliwatts. Would you put a 40W PC
>>> in a box to generate sounds for your doorbell? :> )
>>> Rather, what I am looking at is ways I can guide *others* to selecting
>>> suitable COTS kit that *they* can "downgrade" easily.
>> Who are these 'others' you envisioning doing this downgrade? If its 'mom
>> and pop' I think you overestimate the average 'mom and pop'. (Unless
>> they just pay someone else to do it.) The only only people who have a
>> good chance of downgrading a CPU are the same kinds of people who will
>> be comfortable building their own machines in the first place. I only
>> see a few options:
>> A) Buy a generic machine off the shelf, figure out what socket/chipset
>> it has and find an appropriate downgrade CPU to install. Open the case,
>> remove the heat sink, remove the CPU, install new CPU, reinstall heat
>> sink, and close up case. (Or pay someone else to do the above.)
>> B) Find a machine with the appropriate CPU already installed. This is
>> doable, but not going to happen for 'Hey dude, I just got a Dell'.
>> C) Build a machine from scratch with the right parts or pay someone else
>> to do this.
>> Personally I think that C is going to be the best option. If the end
>> user can't build a machine themselves I don't think they've got much
>> hope for downgrading the machine; A's out. B might work, but I don't
>> think that the high efficiency CPUs are particularly common from the big
>> manufacturers.
> I expect the design to be sold as a "fully assembled" product.
> Too many folks have *no* expertise and/or are unconcerned with
> the potential savings or "fabrication experience".  These are
> the folks who run OSX/Windows/<any_"stock"_FOSS_OS>.
> OTOH, I expect there will be folks who *have* experience and
> would enjoy tinkering and/or "saving a few bucks" by rolling
> their own.  Putting a generic PC in a closet will eventually
> cause those folks to realize it's too noisey, it burns too much
> power, it crashes from thermal overload, etc.
> If the only option is "buy the prebuilt product that has solved
> all these problems for you" (at some cost:  in terms of dollars,
> form factor, flexibility/hackability, etc.) then I imagine they
> would be disappointed.

The kind of people who are comfortable installing and configuring their 
own FOSS systems are likely the same kind of people how are comfortable 
building their own PCs.  They also are more likely to understand that 
you don't put a 220W AMD FX-9590 based machine in a closet under a 
blanket.  My impression from things like the 4chan's technology board[1] 
is that building your own system with Windows is the first level of 
'hacker'  Installing a Mint/Ubuntu is second, and from there you start 
looking are more exotic FOSS options (and at this point you are probably 
looking at < 1% of the population). If pre-built/configured systems are 
available, that will satisfy the vast majority of the market.  The rest 
of the market thinks that they are smarter then you anyway, and all you 
can do is give guidance, so that when they get screwed, they can say 
'well maybe I should have followed the guidelines'.  On a related note 
if I ever try your system I'll be running everything off of an SSD ;)

> Would you run Lin*x/*BSD if it *only* ran on a particular piece
> of hardware?  Regardless of how flawlessly it did so?  What is
> it worth to you to be able to "tweek" your machine to fit *your*
> needs and not the needs imagined by the vendor?

It depends on the application.  I can do almost no tweaking with my 
phone.  I had rooted it, but a firmware upgrade locked me out again.  
Root wasn't that important so I never bothered to find a new exploit.  
So for my phone not being able to tweak isn't really an issue for me.  
(I think that the vast majority of smart phone users are in the same 
boat).  With more and more laptops having soldered in memory, and no 
upgrade path, they are in the same boat as well. What you buy today is 
what you get.  If the manufactured doesn't make something with the specs 
you need you are SOL.  That might scare some people away, but the vast 
majority are happy with what they get.

Note that I'm not asserting that a lack of tweak-ability is a good or 
acceptable thing; I just saying that the average consumer is OK with it, 
and as a result vendors are moving in that direction.

> On the flip side, what value is a design if it can *only* be
> used by folks who can "build a system from scratch"?  Should I
> just release sources and whatever sort of build environment
> suits *my* needs?  And, expect folks to "figure it out" if they
> want to play?

 From above: "I expect the design to be sold as a "fully assembled" 
You have two options, buy the fully assembled product, or build from 
scratch.  You average tinkerer is probably going to start with a VM, or 
an old machine that they have laying around before the go out and invest 
in a specific machine for the task.  They know and understand what they 
have and what its limitations are (e.g. the fan is noisy).  Let them 
tinker.  Its what they want to do.

[1] Remember that all of your problems would go away if you just 
installed Gentoo ;)


To be or not to be, that is the question
                 2b || !2b
(0b10)*(0b1100010) || !(0b10)*(0b1100010)
         0b11000100 || !0b11000100
         0b11000100 || 0b00111011
         255, that is the answer.

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