cpu

Everything I've learned building the fastest Arm desktop

Ampere Altra Developer Platform Hero Shot

This is the fastest Arm desktop in the world, yes, even faster than the M2 Ultra Mac Pro. And today, I made it even faster.

I upgraded everything: Faster RAM, 128 core CPU, 40 series GPU, I did it all, and we'll see how much we can obliterate the M2 Mac Pro.

128 cores—that's five times more cores, I'm also going to upgrade this thing from 96 all the way to 384 gigabytes of RAM. The Mac Pro? Sorry, it only goes up to 192.

And we're just in time for the new Cinebench 2024 benchmark, which—yes—this machine dominates.

Pi Cluster vs Ampere Altra Max 128-core ARM CPU

Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 and Ampere Altra Max M128-30

Sometimes life has a funny way of lining up opportunities, and one presented itself when Patrick from ServeTheHome reached out and said, "Jeff, I have an Ampere Altra Max server. You wanna come see it?"

Of course I did.

But seeing as Patrick is more than 800 miles away, I had to come up with a reason to go see it, so I pulled out my 6-node Raspberry Pi cluster—with it's 24 ARM Cortex A72 CPU cores—and decided to have a little competition.

And of course that competition is documented in a YouTube video:

Raspberry Pi 4 model Bs arriving with newer 'C0' stepping

Owing to a mishap with the Pi 4 model B I use for testing—more on how Red Shirt Jeff ruined that board later this week—I had to go buy a new Pi 4 last week.

The local Micro Center only had the 8 GB model in stock, so I went a little over budget and bought it. When I arrived home, I checked the board, and noticed a bit of a difference on the Broadcom SoC:

Raspberry Pi 4 model B C0 stepping on BCM2711 SoC

Can you spot it? The model number of the BCM2711 chip on this board is 2711ZPKFSB06C0T, which is the same as the chip found on the Pi 400.

This is a newer stepping of the original Pi 4 model B chip, which has the model number 2711ZPKFSB06B0T. The difference is the third-to-last character, the C versus the B.

Overclocking the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4

People have been overclocking Raspberry Pis since the beginning of time, and the Raspberry Pi 4 is no exception.

I wanted to see if the Compute Module 4 (see my full review here) could handle overclocking the same way, and how fast I could get mine to run without crashing.

There's a video version of this blog post, if you'd like to watch that instead:
Raspberry Pi Compute Module 4 OVERCLOCKED.

What does Nvidia buying ARM mean for Raspberry Pi?

Over the weekend, Nvidia confirmed it would purchase ARM from Softbank for $40 billion.

Now, what is ARM, why is Nvidia buying it, and what does any of this have to do with the Raspberry Pi?

Well, let's start with ARM.

This blog post also has a video version to go along with it.

What is ARM?

ARM can refer to a number of things, but let's start by talking about the company, Arm Holdings. They have lineage dating back to Acorn computers, a British computer manufacturer founded in the late 1970s that designed the first 'Acorn RISC Machine architecture' chips, AKA 'ARM'.

BBC Micro Minicomputer - Source: Wikipedia

What does Apple Silicon mean for the Raspberry Pi and ARM64?

Note: There's a video version of this blog post available here: What does Apple Silicon mean for the Raspberry Pi and ARM64?

Apple Silicon and the Raspberry Pi

A couple weeks ago I tried using the latest Raspberry Pi 4 8 gig model as my main computer for a day, and I posted a video about my experience.

Besides many diehard Linux fans complaining in the comments about my apparent idiocy caused by being a Mac user, the experience taught me one thing: A lot of software still isn't built for 64-bit ARM processors, or even for Linux in general.

But there's one trend that I'm seeing: most of the open source software I use already works great on a Pi 4 running on its 64-bit ARM processor.

The best way to keep your cool running a Raspberry Pi 4

From home temperature monitoring to a Kubernetes cluster hosting a live Drupal website, I have a lot of experience running Raspberry Pis. I've used every model through the years, and am currently using a mix of A+, 2 model B, and 4 model B Pis.

Stack of Raspberry Pi model B and B+ 2 3 4

The 3 model B+ was the first generation that had me concerned more about cooling (the CPU gets hot!), and the Pi 4's slightly increased performance made that problem even more apparent, as most of my heavier projects resulted in CPU throttling. I've written about how the Raspberry Pi 4 needs a fan, and more recently how it might not.

The Raspberry Pi 4 needs a fan, here's why and how you can add one

December 2020 Update: Lo and behold, the Pi Foundation tacitly acknowledges the Pi needs a fan in the official case, because now they sell the Case Fan!

The Raspberry Pi Foundation's Pi 4 announcement blog post touted the Pi 4 as providing "PC-like level of performance for most users". The Foundation even offers a Raspberry Pi 4 Desktop Kit.

The desktop kit includes the official Raspberry Pi 4 case, which is an enclosed plastic box with nothing in the way of ventilation.

Review: Raspberry Pi model 3 B, with Benchmarks vs Pi 2

Raspberry Pi 3 - Front

Raspberry Pi 3 - Back

On Pi Day (3/14/16), I finally acquired a Raspberry Pi model 3 B from my local Micro Center (I had ordered one from Pimoroni on launch day, but it must be stuck in customs). After arriving home with it, I decided to start running it through its paces. Below is my review and extensive benchmarking of the Pi 3 (especially in comparison to the Pi 2).

Hardware changes

There are a few notable hardware changes on the Pi 3:

2013 VPS Benchmarks - Linode, Digital Ocean, Hot Drupal

Every year or two, I like to get a good overview of different hosting providers' VPS performance, and from time to time, I move certain websites and services to a new host based on my results.

In the past, I've stuck with Linode for many services (their end-to-end UX, and raw server performance is great!) that weren't intense on disk operations, and Hot Drupal for some sites that required high-performance IO (since Hot Drupal's VPSes use SSDs and are very fast). This year, though, after Digital Ocean jumped into the VPS hosting scene, I decided to give them a look.

Before going further, I thought I'd give a few quick benchmarks from each of the providers; these are all on middle-range plans (1 or 2GB RAM), and with the exception of Linode, the disks are all SSD, so should be super fast:

Disk Performance

Disk Performance Chart