The creator of Linux, one of the most influential open-source operating systems (and the basis for Android), has expressed his preference for AMD over Intel.
In a series of comments at the Real World Tech forums, Linus Torvalds has joined “Team Red” while at the same time calling out Intel for its alleged “bad policies” which have affected Error Correcting Code (ECC) and its development and use in consumer-grade computers.
In his post, Torvalds proceeded to blame Intel for the current state of affairs where ECC memory is expensive and hard to find.
“Intel has been detrimental to the whole industry and to users because of their bad and misguided policies wrt ECC. Seriously.” Torvalds quipped.
ECC is a method that adds parity bits which allows a system to detect errors and correct them based on remaining numbers. This means the system checks to see whether or not the data stored in memory is the same as the data that’s written. Any errors that are detected are then corrected without the need for retransmission. This method is highly common in systems where large streams of data pass through at high speeds.
While checking and correcting errors are the main caveat of ECC, Torvalds argues that the vital function of ECC is to “know whether your machine is reliable or not.” He further explains that the non-existence of ECCs in systems would be detrimental as it leaves the consumers clueless if their systems are reliable.
According to Torvalds, ECC DRAM “used to be standard” and was accessible was killed off because of bad policies brought about by Intel setting the trend of not needing ECC since modern-day DRAM’s are apparently “reliable and don’t need ECC.”
While AMD doesn’t officially support ECC, Torvalds still praised the fact that they don’t necessarily block their processors from using it. As long as ECC works unofficially, it seems that will be enough for Linux’s figurehead who believes that the move will hopefully “allow markets to start fixing themselves.”
Currently, Torvalds has opted to use a 32-core AMD Threadripper 3970x, which according to Torvalds “is an ecological choice,” taking a shot at Intel’s relatively expensive Xeon CPUs which he says “could never really make the math work.”
He pushed his argument further by explaining the relationship between cost and performance of both CPUs, taking a shot at Intel’s absurd pricing.
Xeon CPUs are premium CPUs that are generally used at data centers and are rarely seen and used at the general market. As such, their prices can go as high as $3,000 (Php 145,000).
Torvalds explained that the “Intel Math” was to make a better performing CPU, twice better than its predecessor, five times its price. This is much unlike AMD’s Threadripper, which sells at a significantly lower price – twice the performance for twice the price. (Read: AMD confirms purchase of programmable chipmaker Xilinx)
As the brains behind the influential Linux operating system, Linus Torvalds vocal support of one hardware vendor over another is sure to create some impact on how both developers and tech companies go towards developing products and delivering services. Calling out malpractices, shortcomings and mistakes at this level is a win-win not only for tech companies but also for the average consumer as well.
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