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News Russian government telegraphs move to ARM

Discussion in 'Article Discussion' started by Gareth Halfacree, 23 Jun 2014.

  1. Gareth Halfacree

    Gareth Halfacree WIIGII! Staff Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

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  2. David

    David Take my advice — I’m not using it.

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    Is this a security thing? Worrying about backdoors and spying from the US, or because they'll want to eventually market these externally themselves and have their own backdoors? :D
     
  3. r3loaded

    r3loaded Well-Known Member

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    A bit of both, as well as developing their own economy into high-value industries. Relying on the oil industry for 70% of your GDP is not a sensible economic policy. The mess with Crimea hit the Russian economy quite hard and forced them into a weak negotiating position with China over the oil and gas deal.
     
  4. hyperion

    hyperion Active Member

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    Maybe I'm totally off the mark in saying this, but it feels like a few years ago there was just AMD, Intel and Via, but since ARM came along everybody and their grandmother is like "Derp. imma make processors". Not that I'm complaining...
     
  5. iwod

    iwod New Member

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    Blame it on the US for putting a backdoor in everything.
     
  6. Gareth Halfacree

    Gareth Halfacree WIIGII! Staff Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

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    You know that Acorn was founded in 1978 and ARM (originally Acorn RISC Machines, later Advanced RISC Machines) in 1990, right? The first ARM chip was built in 1985. VIA didn't come along until 1987 - nine years after Acorn was founded, and two years after the first ARM chip was built!

    For many companies, the IP route offered by ARM makes a lot of sense. Look at Samsung: it was already one of the biggest producers of semiconductors in the world thanks to its memory business. Given the choice of "make 10% profit on your CPUs by buying them off-the-shelf from Intel" or "make 50% profit on your CPUs by building them in your own factories, with the added bonus of being able to customise the design as you see fit" what do you think they were going to do?

    If you don't have a semiconductor fab up your sleeve, of course, it's a different story - one that sees you at one remove from ARM, buying pre-made chips from Qualcomm, Nvidia et al.
     
  7. hyperion

    hyperion Active Member

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    Yes, I agree. I'm not criticising or anything. It's just interesting to me since I remember people claiming that no one could stand up to Intel when Cyrix merged, whereas now there are cpu manufacturers popping up left and right who do their own thing regardless of intel.

    I had no idea about Acorn being ARM, we had Acorn PCs in my primary school :eek:
     
  8. Gareth Halfacree

    Gareth Halfacree WIIGII! Staff Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

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    Oh, it's a fascinating story. Completely off-topic for here, but well worth looking into. You'll have used either Acorn Archimedes systems or (less likely but still possible) the later RiscPCs. Both were powered by ARM processors; the original ARM chip, meanwhile, was an add-on for the Acorn BBC Micro. Yes, the architecture that has become synonymous with mobile devices began on the desktop. The ARM instruction set itself was designed by Sophie Wilson, a founding engineer at Acorn, as a chip simulation written in BBC BASIC; she'd never done processor design before, and it worked first time, as did the hardware implementation which followed when co-founder Hermann Hauser agreed to fund the project. The modern ARM architecture isn't as far removed from Sophie's original creation as you might think - that's one of the reasons it's taken so long to get a 64-bit ARM chip out there.

    But I digress. Wikipedia has a pretty thorough but dry write-up, and it's worth clicking through to the source links for more. Sadly, the otherwise excellent docudrama Micro Men stops the story short of the rise and fall of ARM, with little reference other than a scrawled note on a whiteboard in the background and a brief mention by Wilson's actor of "our own processor" as a suggested future project. It'd be nice to see Saul Metzen do a follow-up, but with the original destined to never arrive on DVD I'm not sure the BBC will see fit to fund it.

    (Fun easter-egg, there: the landlady who calls "time, gentlemen, please" in the pub at the end of the film is actually Sophie Wilson herself!)
     
    Last edited: 24 Jun 2014
  9. David

    David Take my advice — I’m not using it.

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    I love how you can just call up stuff like that, Gareth.
     
  10. Gareth Halfacree

    Gareth Halfacree WIIGII! Staff Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

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    I'm a real hit at parties.
     
  11. Cthippo

    Cthippo Can't mod my way out of a paper bag

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    To some extent I feel like the same thing is happening with operating systems as well. Governments are realizing that they can use the power and flexibility of open source to build OS's that are more secure and don't come from a single vendor they don't control, and which may have already been compromised. China's working on one distro, the NSA on another for things that need to be more secure than you can reliably get with Windows.

    The obvious concern is that you will have different distros written for different hardware, none of which talks to each other, but I think there will be enough of a common heritage to avoid that.
     
  12. Gareth Halfacree

    Gareth Halfacree WIIGII! Staff Administrator Super Moderator Moderator

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    I have a poster from Personal Computer World Magazine - which is, annoyingly, larger than any of the frames I've got, so I need to buy a bigger frame at some point - which takes the form of a massive, multi-colour chart designed to help the viewer translate the BASIC variant used by one home computer into the BASIC variant of another. Yes, every damn computer had its own particular flavour of BASIC, even those that bought in from someone like Microsoft. A program written with BBC BASIC in mind wouldn't work with Commodore BASIC, and would need further modification for the Sinclair Spectrum, and yet more for the TI-99, and don't even get me started on the NewBrain... Oh, you've got a Jupiter Ace? That's FORTH, you're on your own there. Hope you can get your head around reverse Polish notation!

    What's that saying? Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. (I always thought it was "doomed to repeat it," but I did a sneaky Google to be sure and apparently I've been misquoting it all these years. Whoops!)
     

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