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J. M. Manness'  Instablog

J. M. Manness
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To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. -Elbert Hubbard I have a Masters degree in Computer Science, and worked for 14 years in development, technical publications and software quality assurance. I have been investing for 20 years. Currently, I do writing, photography, and... More
My company:
delQuindío Products
My blog:
50 Cent Flash Fiction
My book:
50 Cent Flash Fiction - Anthology 1:Twist
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  • Understanding The GPU
    What is a GPU?

    Short answer: Graphics Processing Unit - a computer chip (or a part of one) that is responsible for processing graphic and video image data. To understand it, let's begin by looking at the difference between it and the Central Processing Unit.

    • Caveat: This is a very simplified discussion that conveys the general concepts but may not convey a precise model of modern chips.

    The CPU (generally considered the "brains" of a computer) is responsible for running the overall computer system. It reads programs from memory and executes them. Using both built in (hardwired, or firmware based) and memory based instructions, it is responsible for scheduling all the different processes that want to run concurrently, responding to user inputs, sending data to various peripheral systems, maintaining levels of security, and so on.

    In order to accomplish all this, the CPU has a very rich set of instructions that it understands, and this instruction set has been tuned over decades to handle this wide set of operations efficiently. It should be remembered that every processing unit can perform one and only one instruction at a time - or more accurately these days, one per core or thread. (Detail: actually, there are execution units that do perform several operations in a pipeline fashion, but the basic concept holds.)

    Now a crescent wrench is a fine tool. Large and heavy, it is adjustable and therefore adaptable to many uses from plumbing to auto repair. If, however, you intend to remove your engine head, then you will be much better served with a speedy little ratchet with the proper socket. This one socket only fits a single size - but does it very well.(click to enlarge)

    So too the GPU. It has a much smaller instruction set, but this is tuned to the types of mathematical operations that are needed for processing images, and - most importantly - it has lots of threads to run many operations in parallel.

    Continue reading →

    Disclosure: The author is long AAPL.

    Jun 13 2:47 PM | Link | Comment!
  • Programming Languages – Basics
    To understand programming languages, one needs to know a bit about how a processor works. AProcessing Unit is that part of an integrated circuit chip that actually performs computations. It needs to read instructions, interpret them, and perform them. This is all done by a set of Logic Gatesimplemented by sets of transistors on the chip. Modern chips have up to 7 billion transistors or more than one billion logic gates.


    • All electronic computation is controlled and computed by electronic signals passing in step through these logic gates.
    • A processing unit instruction is a digital number that triggers a set of data to pass through a particular computation unit of the processor.

    Each PU has some internal memory called registers, usually some dedicated to instructions and some to data (although they could be mixed). Here data and instructions are stored for quick access to the PU. So the PU goes through a cycle of:

    1. Read an instruction from main memory into registers (if not already available)
    2. Load an instruction from instruction queue
    3. Interpret instruction
    4. Perform instruction
    5. Leave results in specified location
    6. Return to step #1

    Instructions to a processor are extraordinarily simple, each performing just one very specific, elemental task. They do things like:

    Continue reading →

    Disclosure: The author is long AAPL.

    Jun 13 2:43 PM | Link | Comment!
  • World Cup In Brazil

    As a public service I pass on this info from the FTC:


    Federal Trade Commission Consumer Information
    A word of caution about World Cup ticket scams

    by Alvaro Puig
    Consumer Education Specialist, FTC

    There are only 7 days to go until the opening match of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and World Cup fever is in the air! In just a few days, soccer fans from around the world will descend on Brazil to watch their squad take the pitch to play "el jogo bonito" - the beautiful game.

    Maybe you're one of the lucky ones who already scored tickets. But if you're still looking to buy tickets to see your team play in Brazil, you might feel like it's the 90th minute and your down a goal. If you're in the market for World Cup tickets, the Federal Trade Commission has some words of caution for you about ticket scams.

    Read more >
    Jun 05 1:08 PM | Link | Comment!
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