After dropping the MHz race, Intel decided to improve performance and power of its CPU by increasing the number of cores in the same CPU chips. So one can have lower clocked CPU but higher performance level. Today Intel unveiled a "proof-of-concept" CPU encompassing... 80 Cores. If it is not meant to be commercially available next year, it illustrates the current strategy: one can reach extreme performance level by multiplying the number of cores. This prototype CPU almost reaches TFLOPS while consuming "only" 191.79W.
Of course, doubling the number of Cores every six months will be interesting only if one can benefit from them, so applications as well as the operating system have to become natively "multicore aware". As we demonstrate it recently the 8 Core Xeon Mac Pro is faster than the previous Quad Core model when requiring heavy multitasking power.
One way to benefit from multi core CPU without having to rewrite too many codes for application developers might be the use of hardware/multithreading/core multiplexing.
Unlike some readers might thought, we do not keep posting news about the problem affecting the Airport Express just for fun or for making Apple unhappy. The Airport Express suffers of a major issue limiting its average lifetime to 18-20 months. As you probably already know, we have launched about a year ago a campaign aiming to collect information (location, serial, etc...) of defective Airport Express, mostly to try understand why most of then stop working couple of months after the end of the 12-month warranty (submission webpage
). We have collected over 1250 reports of dead APX, and this number keeps increasing everyday, with about 100 new cases reported per months. When we obtain details, symptoms are the same: sudden death of the APX, without any previous signs of defects, sometimes a 'pop' noise and a burning smell, and that's all.
We have previously shown that in most cases the power card located in the APX burst out; we identified capacitors as being probably the faulty component as they were not designed/or selected to work for a long time in such hot and closed environment as the APX. This is not the first time that Apple has problem with capacitors, due to bad quality lots or inappropriate technical specifications, most of you probably remember the iMac G5 motherboard being plagued by swelling capacitors leading to an exchange program. We have already published methods developed by some unfortunate owner to resurrect dead APX by providing an external power unit.
To our knowledge, Apple did not acknowledge the problem with the short lifetime issue of APX, and keeps answering that there is no known issue with the APX; while moderators of Apple discussion forum keep locking or erasing subjects dealing with dead APX. We know that some users got their out-of-warranty dead APX replaced for free, but it most cases it was after long discussion or after threatening Apple to launch a legal action. When analyzing the data we have collected, one can immediately see that most of the dead APX were manufactured in S2 2004, while the product was launched in June 2004.
In 2004, the reported dead APX units had an average lifetime of 18.22 months.
If we keep receiving reports about dead APX manufactured in 2004, it is often from users who had purchased a new unit and just discovered the problem by reading our news. They never claimed for having the first dead unit replaced as it was not covered anymore. What worries us is the steady increase of reports for APX manufactured in the first semester of 2005. If it keeps going that way, it would indicate that Apple did not react immediately. In addition, one should not forget that our data do not include reports from defective APX found dead within the warranty period as Apple will exchange them for free, but requesting consumers to send the dead one back.
From internal source, we have learned that there was not many APX manufactured end of 2005 and in 2006 which were reported dead within the warranty period. It will be interesting to open one of those dead APX to determine if the power board was modified or the type of capacitor exchanged for a more temperature-resistant model. This would imply that Apple reacted to our previous news and asked Foxconn to act appropriately.
Let's hope that Apple will exchange all dead APX at least those manufactured during the "cursed" production weeks. It might also be the time for unfortunate owners to finally decide to team up and launch a legal procedure to push Apple to acknowledge the problem and launch the corresponding exchange program. The biggest danger for unfortunate owners is that Apple updates the current APX model to an 802.11n version, making the current problem with the APX v1.0 history.