Author Topic: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.  (Read 11014 times)

Syonyk

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Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« on: November 14, 2020, 10:49:24 PM »
Well, in the land of owning up to financially suboptimal decisions, I've got an Apple Silicon (ARM) Mac Mini on the way at some point in the next month or so, whenever they decide to ship it.

I'll be replacing a 2018 Intel based Mac Mini, which is a general desktop for me, though a bit less as of late with some other lightweight systems I have online (the Raspberry Pi 4 covers a lot of my use).  Still nice to have a desktop that can handle video/photo processing for the handful of things I use it for, and that can generally chew through various other tasks as needed.

My plan is to sell the existing hardware for pretty much the cost of the AS version, and enjoy yet another step in de-Inteling my life, because they've been a great pain to me professionally lately, and I'm happy to kick them to the curb for personal use.  I've got some older Intel hardware I use, but am otherwise trying to get away from them as much as I can.

So, anyway, facepunch away for a nearly $1000 purchase.  16GB/256GB, planning to use my external storage, and that it sips quite a bit less power than the Intel one means I can consider doing some self hosted serving on it, even though it's running in a solar powered office 24/7.  The Pi4 I don't quite trust to handle database workloads, even though it's on a USB SSD. :/

Bloop Bloop Reloaded

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #1 on: November 14, 2020, 11:49:47 PM »
Congrats. No face punches from me. I can't think of any Apple product that's sharply priced, but they're hardly going to bankrupt you either, and in an aesthetic and usability sense I think some of their products are still class leaders. The new chips are apparently great. If you like it, then you have nothing to justify, and not worthy of a face punch.

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2020, 01:38:37 AM »
I look forward to reading your thoughts on the new silicone once youíve had a chance to test it. My 2014 MBP is getting a bit long in the tooth and while I gave in last year and bought a dedicated windows desktop for my primary solid-works machine, Iím less than thrilled with the experience. Iím currently planning to wait a bit longer before the next laptop unless this turns chip turns out to be close to the hype... 

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2020, 08:26:47 AM »
Just read back through some of your blog posts, so I'm looking forward to hearing what you make of it (I am _very_ familiar with one of those architectures). It'll be interesting to see how well virtual machines run in emulation, and also whether there's any legacy software out there that randomly fails. Suspect Apple will have done a good job making sure that doesn't happen.

Syonyk

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #4 on: November 15, 2020, 10:06:47 AM »
... and not worthy of a face punch.

*checks which forum he's on*  Oh, come on, you can do better. :p I ought to use the internet via a tin can string manually whistling modem noises! :D  ... which isn't half far from what I use a lot of the time, really.

I look forward to reading your thoughts on the new silicone once youíve had a chance to test it.

I expect it to be far faster than I can make any reasonable use of.  I don't really push personal computers anymore, though the horror that is the new Blogger interface will choke anything out (I've not set up alternatives yet, and almost none of my computers can chew through writing an image-heavy post anymore, some of them literally can't handle plain text on the new interface).  About the only thing that would actually push a computer was Kerbal Space Program, but that's not built for ARM, almost certainly won't be, and I'm not sure the new GPU will have enough power to deal with it anyway.  I might try it in emulation, just to see.  I loaned a house desktop that could handle heavy loads to our church to do video processing at the start of Covid, and... well, I honestly don't expect to ever see it again.  So without gaming, there's nothing to stress a system.  Maybe some autorouter work for PCBs, but I don't do enough complex PCB design to stress one at all yet.

It'll be interesting to see how well virtual machines run in emulation, and also whether there's any legacy software out there that randomly fails. Suspect Apple will have done a good job making sure that doesn't happen.

Apple doesn't seem to have done Rosetta 2 in a way that can run x86 VMs, so I don't think that will be an option.  Which is fine, I have another little VM workstation I can run x86 stuff on, and a house server as well.  But I'm interested in serving off ARM VMs, if it's power efficient enough to do that - specs make it look like it should be, only 6.5W at idle.  I'm trying to move away from cloud hosting, and to move to self hosted as... the problems with cloud hosting become obvious.  See Blogger, see anyone saying anything disagreeable on mainstream social platforms, etc.  So having more ARM hardware to work on will be nice.  I might put a few Pis together for a serving cluster, at which point being able to run higher power ARM dev VMs would be useful.

You certainly could do VMs in emulation, and I might mess with that some, but qemu, at least, gets you about 10% of native performance in emulation (on my PBP).  Apple's gigantic L1 caches will help a ton, but straight up emulation or even JIT isn't going to get particularly good VM performance.  I'd expect someone to either chain off Rosetta or borrow the concepts to allow high performance x86 VMs at some point, but I'm not likely to work on that.

Reality is, though, it's quite overkill for anything I need.  I'm just trying to get away from (modern - Clank is perfectly fine with an in order Atom chip) Intel wherever I can, and this opens up a lot of options for me on that front.

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2020, 12:39:07 PM »
I'm a full time SW dev that has a MBP for work but I honestly prefer my Lenovo T14 with Ubuntu 20.04. Faster, cheaper, and better battery life, at least for the type of development that I do (embedded Linux).

My shop also does macOS and iOS work and we are generally really disappointed with recent changes in the Apple ecosystem. My photography friends have similar comments.

But I do hope that you enjoy your new mini, I used to buy them for myself.

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2020, 01:04:14 PM »
Unfortunately, there's nothing in the midrange of the ARM ecosystem except Apple's stuff right now.  There's a huge gap between something like the Raspberry Pi 4 (which is a fine light use desktop, but a bit limited in terms of storage performance and IO) and the $5k+ ARM workstations designed for high end development.  And the GPU performance on the Pis leaves more than a little to be desired.

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2020, 01:50:57 PM »
Yup, and you wanted ARM just for the power savings because your office is off grid? I get that.

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #8 on: November 15, 2020, 02:04:11 PM »
Yup, and you wanted ARM just for the power savings because your office is off grid? I get that.

Partly, yes.  ARM tends to be lower power than Intel - this is why I have a RPi4 desktop in there, because it can be always-on at the cost of a few watts.  If I'm able to run a Mac Mini on nearly the same idle power budget, well... there's some interesting option in terms of self hosting.

However, I'm also just irritated with Intel (and have been for the past few years).  They've taken some exceedingly leaky shortcuts in the pursuit of performance, to the point where the microarchitectural vulnerabilities mean the chips are far slower than they used to be, and still leak if you ask them politely.  Intel can't reason about their chips anymore, far as I can tell, and that concerns me greatly.  So I'm trying to move away from them.  AMD has some interesting option and I'm probably going to replace my homeserver guts with AMD in the near future, but I see ARM as the future at this point.  ARMv8 (at least AArch64) really cleaned up their architecture, and gets rid of a ton of legacy cruft.  An AArch64 only chip is quite clean compared to the older versions, and obviously can be made to perform excellently.  Plus, there are far more ARM vendors and implementations than x86.

I won't be able to de-Intel my life entirely (yet), but I can de-Intel my personal life significantly (or use old Intel chips that behave - this Atom netbook doesn't speculate, so is immune to all the speculative execution issues).  Now, if I were to replace a perfectly functional Pi4 with an ODroid N2+ for no reason beyond "But a bit faster!"... yeah, that would be silly.

PDXTabs

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #9 on: November 15, 2020, 02:47:29 PM »
I understand all of that, and I mostly agree. Intel is just so cheap and ubiquitous and everything just works. AMD Threadripper would make an amazing embedded Linux build rig.

I happen to have an ODroid N2+!

EDITed to add - if you get tired of blogspot you could try self hosting with jekyll.
« Last Edit: November 15, 2020, 02:49:16 PM by PDXTabs »

Syonyk

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #10 on: November 15, 2020, 03:57:57 PM »
I understand all of that, and I mostly agree. Intel is just so cheap and ubiquitous and everything just works. AMD Threadripper would make an amazing embedded Linux build rig.
  T
Cheap?  Not really.  Everywhere, certainly.  Thing is, I don't really do large job builds anymore for personal use.  So Threadripper isn't a huge win for me, unless I'm doing a lot of VM hosting.

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EDITed to add - if you get tired of blogspot you could try self hosting with jekyll.

Yeah, I'm familiar.  Jekyll or Hugo will likely handle generation, it's just "totally and completely not what I'm used to and requires new templates and new workflows and new media pipelines and new everything else and doesn't work on a Chromebook."  Not impossible, just a royal pain in the ass for someone who has to come up into the stratosphere to deal with Linux sysadmin tasks, and CSS/JS are... way, way, high level, like, orbital mechanics high level.  I make my living below the weeds at this point.  Would you like to discuss the ARM barrel shifter?

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2020, 04:11:50 PM »
Cheap?  Not really.

I was including all the used hardware in my assessment, but I guess compared to a Pi4 it is still kind of expensive. But with nice big caches and fast IO.

Not impossible, just a royal pain in the ass for someone who has to come up into the stratosphere to deal with Linux sysadmin tasks, and CSS/JS are... way, way, high level, like, orbital mechanics high level.  I make my living below the weeds at this point.

CSS/JS is above me too, although I'm super comfortable as a Linux sysadmin. I think that you could run Jekyll on that mac and then just host it in an AWS lambda, although I have not personally tried. I have paid a little money for some Jekyll templates on the open market, and I'm sure that fiverr is full of people that could help for a tiny bit of money.

Syonyk

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #12 on: November 15, 2020, 04:19:31 PM »
I was including all the used hardware in my assessment, but I guess compared to a Pi4 it is still kind of expensive. But with nice big caches and fast IO.

Sure, if the goal is power burn, I've got a dual... oh, some old Xeon box, idles at about 150W, pulls 300W under load.  It's not in a chassis, so I have some fans rigged to cool the chipset on it or it'll shut down from overheat.

The Pi4 draws very little power the performance, but is still very much a low to mid-range box, at best.  Even with a USB SSD on it.  It's fine for end user purposes, just chokes out if you ask it to do much dev work, any VM work, etc.

Quote
CSS/JS is above me too, although I'm super comfortable as a Linux sysadmin. I think that you could run Jekyll on that mac and then just host it in an AWS lambda, although I have not personally tried. I have paid a little money for some Jekyll templates on the open market, and I'm sure that fiverr is full of people that could help for a tiny bit of money.

I used to be a Linux sysadmin, just... my skills end around 2008.  yaml and such baffle me.  I can get through them, I just don't understand the details of them.  I host a Matrix instance, I host a Jitsi instance for church, via cloud, and... they mostly work, but I can't claim to understand them end to end either.

I have no idea what a fiverr is, beyond a $5 bill with an extra R.

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #13 on: November 15, 2020, 04:23:43 PM »
I hope you won't mind if I briefly hijack this thread in order to ask a question that I'm having no luck Googling an answer to.

How much RAM does a person need? I am eyeing the new Macbook Air and while 8gb of RAM seems fine for now (I mostly surf the web, work in MS Office, teach by Zoom, and do light coding...though I very occasionally work with million+ observation data sets), I expect to keep the computer to 5+ years (my current Air is an early 2014). If I plan to get out of the data analysis game, is there a need for 16gb for some other "future proofing"? I'm leaning toward the upgrade because it's a few hundred dollars spread over 5 years of use, so why not? But I wish this was easier for the average person to get their head around.

Syonyk

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #14 on: November 15, 2020, 04:46:33 PM »
Short answer: Get 16GB.

You can do normal daily use with 8GB, but 16GB opens other options for the future and almost certainly will help resale value, as the RAM can't be upgraded in the future.  Modern SSDs and compressed RAM help a ton, but the power penalty for extra RAM is minimal.

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #15 on: November 15, 2020, 05:32:01 PM »
Short answer: Get 16GB.

You can do normal daily use with 8GB, but 16GB opens other options for the future and almost certainly will help resale value, as the RAM can't be upgraded in the future.  Modern SSDs and compressed RAM help a ton, but the power penalty for extra RAM is minimal.

Thanks. The "can't be upgraded in the future" sure makes it hard to cheap out now if I want to keep it a for while.

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #16 on: November 15, 2020, 10:04:09 PM »
Have fun with the BIG dumptSUR fire when it arrives? The "firewall bypass" Apple is doing is super sketchy. And a security hole waiting to happen -- terminal bypasses the firewall... as does anything it runs. Like daemons. Or curl. Hopefully its just a scary quirk to you as opposed to a real issue.

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #17 on: November 16, 2020, 12:14:01 AM »
Apple doesn't seem to have done Rosetta 2 in a way that can run x86 VMs, so I don't think that will be an option.

I suspect that rules it out for running CAD software for the time being. Though, I was inclined to let people with more interest in software figure out all the implications of the change before i worry about replacing my old MBP anyway. It will be worth keeping an eye on though.

Syonyk

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #18 on: November 16, 2020, 08:52:02 PM »
Have fun with the BIG dumptSUR fire when it arrives? The "firewall bypass" Apple is doing is super sketchy. And a security hole waiting to happen -- terminal bypasses the firewall... as does anything it runs. Like daemons. Or curl. Hopefully its just a scary quirk to you as opposed to a real issue.

Oh NO!  BIG dumptSUR fire?  I'd better go back to Micro$oft Winblows!

While I've not been keeping terribly close attention on that particular kerfluffle, reality is that if I care terribly about what a system is doing on the network, I won't rely on the built in firewall anyway, because a built in firewall is one local exploit away from being open anyway.  They're nice for informational use, but if you're relying on the host firewall to actually control traffic, there are relatively few cases in which I think that's wise.  So I'd put a box where I wanted to control network traffic on its own VLAN and firewall it externally, or simply use it as a disconnected system.  But I've no particular need for that in personal use.

I suspect that rules it out for running CAD software for the time being. Though, I was inclined to let people with more interest in software figure out all the implications of the change before i worry about replacing my old MBP anyway. It will be worth keeping an eye on though.

I don't see why, unless the only way you run CAD on a Mac is in a Windows VM.  Anything x86 and platform native (Eagle, Kicad, etc) should be just fine with Rosetta 2.

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #19 on: November 16, 2020, 09:49:18 PM »

I suspect that rules it out for running CAD software for the time being. Though, I was inclined to let people with more interest in software figure out all the implications of the change before i worry about replacing my old MBP anyway. It will be worth keeping an eye on though.

I don't see why, unless the only way you run CAD on a Mac is in a Windows VM.  Anything x86 and platform native (Eagle, Kicad, etc) should be just fine with Rosetta 2.

I must have misunderstood your original statement. I took not running x86 virtual machines to mean it couldn't run a windows vm. I currently work primarily in SolidWorks. Once I'm done working for client(s) that use Solidworks I'll probably look for other cheaper options.

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #20 on: November 17, 2020, 06:57:37 AM »
Can't really facepunch for this. I'm not a fanboi of any of Mac/Win/Tux/iOS/Android/other. To me they are just a tool to achieve the desired output.

I have only one Mac (MBP 2017) from work, and it is solid and does its intended job (I'm a cloud engineer - whatevs that means).

I have seen Macs/iMacs/Minis get used for many years if they are regularly cleaned up and don't require major HW upgrades. Apple does make solid machines. There's an Australian guy on youtube who fixes up old Apple devices.

Having said that, I have a Win godbox (i7-2600) still running fine since 2010. Only thing I did after 7 years was replace the 8 GB RAM with 16 GB. Also have HTPC built in 2010 that still functions. Once a year (or more), I'll open them and remove the dust. And every couple of years clean out the old thermal paste and apply some new Arctic Silver.

I also had Ubuntu workstation in the past, have a RasPi3 running pi-hole, a RasPi4 with Raspbian (need to install Ubuntu), these are all tools to perform certain needs.

My sister does a lot of landscape photography and she's been happy with Macs for years.

A good hands-on review on the Apple M1. I'm looking to build or buy a new machine, may have to consider the M1 MacMini.
https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2020/11/hands-on-with-the-apple-m1-a-seriously-fast-x86-competitor/
« Last Edit: November 17, 2020, 07:49:39 AM by jinga nation »

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #21 on: November 17, 2020, 01:32:11 PM »
Hell, I'll throw a face punch your way if nobody else is going to do it.

You are replacing a three year old computer with a new model and paying I'm guessing at least 750 dollars for this privilege after the sale of your older machine. All this for what benefit exactly? How much time do you lose waiting on lag with a 3yo machine vs. a new one? Have you measured it?

I thought the whole rationale for getting an Apple was that they "get used for many years". If you are going to dispose of them every 2-3 years why not get a desktop box with twice the technical specs running Linux or Windows for maybe a third of the price? 

Short answer: Get 16GB.

You can do normal daily use with 8GB, but 16GB opens other options for the future and almost certainly will help resale value, as the RAM can't be upgraded in the future.  Modern SSDs and compressed RAM help a ton, but the power penalty for extra RAM is minimal.

Thanks. The "can't be upgraded in the future" sure makes it hard to cheap out now if I want to keep it a for while.

This is what it looks like to get played by corporate planned obsolescence. To incinerate the maximum amount of cash, get the $200+ RAM upgrade AND replace it every 3 years anyway.

Don't get me wrong, Apple makes great premium luxury products. But if you're serious about FIRE it's hard to justify hundreds of dollars a year in computer depreciation.

Sorry, somebody had to do it.

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #22 on: November 17, 2020, 03:18:32 PM »
This is what it looks like to get played by corporate planned obsolescence. To incinerate the maximum amount of cash, get the $200+ RAM upgrade AND replace it every 3 years anyway.

My Dell XPS 13 is going strong after five years, I imagine that the new Air will be as well. But with that said I completely agree about soldering on components. I understand why they do it for the very smallest/lightest laptops, but I refused to buy a 2018 Mac mini because Apple soldered on the storage, which will eventually wear out.

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #23 on: November 17, 2020, 03:58:59 PM »
Short answer: Get 16GB.

You can do normal daily use with 8GB, but 16GB opens other options for the future and almost certainly will help resale value, as the RAM can't be upgraded in the future.  Modern SSDs and compressed RAM help a ton, but the power penalty for extra RAM is minimal.

Thanks. The "can't be upgraded in the future" sure makes it hard to cheap out now if I want to keep it a for while.

This is what it looks like to get played by corporate planned obsolescence. To incinerate the maximum amount of cash, get the $200+ RAM upgrade AND replace it every 3 years anyway.

Don't get me wrong, Apple makes great premium luxury products. But if you're serious about FIRE it's hard to justify hundreds of dollars a year in computer depreciation.

Sorry, somebody had to do it.

Too late, I ordered an 8 core Air with a 512gb SDD and 16gb RAM today. Just 12 easy payments of $95.75, interest-free, plus 3% cash back which I will put toward a wireless charger baybe. Thank you Tim Apple.

Syonyk

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #24 on: November 17, 2020, 04:34:53 PM »
I must have misunderstood your original statement. I took not running x86 virtual machines to mean it couldn't run a windows vm. I currently work primarily in SolidWorks. Once I'm done working for client(s) that use Solidworks I'll probably look for other cheaper options.

Are you running SolidWorks in a Windows VM on a Mac?  o.O  That won't work, no (at least, not yet - I expect someone to solve it, just the performance of an x86 VM is up in the air).

You are replacing a three year old computer with a new model and paying I'm guessing at least 750 dollars for this privilege after the sale of your older machine. All this for what benefit exactly? How much time do you lose waiting on lag with a 3yo machine vs. a new one? Have you measured it?

Actually, it's closer to a straight across trade.  My existing one is a 2018 with 32GB RAM, and current eBay prices on it put it as slightly more than I paid for the new one, give or take.  Minus eBay fees, if I can't sell it locally, and it's about a wash.  I'm just going to use some external storage if needed, most of my data lives on a homeserver, not my desktops.  The new one is only $900 in a sane config, so hard to lose $750 on the deal... I didn't go with an insanely high end config on the old one.

However, for me, the main benefit is radically reduced idle power.  My office is purely off grid, and winter is a challenge.  I'm pretty touchy about idle power here, and the new one idles around 4W - which is nothing.  The Intel one idles around 10-15W, which is a far bigger deal for overnight loads out here, so, quite honestly, I don't use it that much.  It just draws too much power to run 24/7 out here, and I'd really like a Mac online 24/7 for a variety of things (to include possibly self hosting some stuff - looking to reduce some of my cloud spend for hosting).

Also, it's a major step in de-Inteling my life.  Value of this is up to the person, but I place a good value in working towards a de-Intel'd life.  I still have a few Intel systems, and am actively trying to replace them.  A power efficient mid-range system is worth a lot for that, to me.

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I thought the whole rationale for getting an Apple was that they "get used for many years". If you are going to dispose of them every 2-3 years why not get a desktop box with twice the technical specs running Linux or Windows for maybe a third of the price?

They do get used for many years.  Just perhaps not by the first purchaser.  The hold value quite well, so selling them off doesn't have nearly the same impact you get from selling off a PC that isn't worth nearly as much in a few years.  Quirk of Apple ownership.  But I expect to get $900-$1000 for my current Mini.  Perhaps more, if people are stocking up on Intel hardware for whatever reason.  They're not "discarded" as scrap when you get rid of them... usually.

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This is what it looks like to get played by corporate planned obsolescence. To incinerate the maximum amount of cash, get the $200+ RAM upgrade AND replace it every 3 years anyway.

I don't have data on hand regarding resale value at 3 years of various configurations, but given that the higher-RAM options tend to command a nice premium on the used market a few years in, I'm not actually sure which way you'd be better, TCO-wise.  I would expect you might edge slightly ahead with less RAM, but I'm not at all sure, and it probably depends on just how long you keep it.  If you want to incinerate cash, the Mac Pro, fully loaded, is a far better way to do that.

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Don't get me wrong, Apple makes great premium luxury products. But if you're serious about FIRE it's hard to justify hundreds of dollars a year in computer depreciation.

"A couple hundred a year in computer depreciation" really isn't that much... it's hard to stay much lower unless you don't ask them to do much of anything.

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Sorry, somebody had to do it.

Appreciated! :D

AccidentialMustache

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #25 on: November 17, 2020, 10:30:17 PM »
I have seen Macs/iMacs/Minis get used for many years if they are regularly cleaned up and don't require major HW upgrades. Apple does make solid machines. There's an Australian guy on youtube who fixes up old Apple devices.

Their "solid" systems are why I had to replace 5% of the ram across hundreds of machines -- because they shipped bad ram that xrdiags wouldn't detect.

And let's not even get started on the xserve raid controller that had bad ram. On the plus side we had backups. On the down side, that was a huge waste of time until we figured out what was wrong. Which took longer because apple had no reporting to point to said failure, we had to suss it out based on behavior.

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #26 on: November 17, 2020, 10:42:08 PM »
Are you running SolidWorks in a Windows VM on a Mac?  o.O  That won't work, no (at least, not yet - I expect someone to solve it, just the performance of an x86 VM is up in the air).

This seems totally doable to me for an x86 mac. I used to run windows games (think: civ 6, wow, etc) in a windows vm, at max settings, under linux on a desktop. I was doing GPU passthrough. The performance hit was something in the range of <5%. The bigger problem was nvidia doesn't like it and so the drivers were always (artificially) an issue on the windows box, or the gpu had intentionally disabled pcie reset support, so you couldn't reboot the vm without rebooting the host os, etc.

I'd expect at least one of the mac vm programs to be able to run CAD fine on an x86 mac. Maybe you need a TB3 GPU enclosure to do it (TB3 limited bandwidth is probably a bigger perf penalty than the gpu passthrough), but it should work. At the very least, it'd work under linux on the same mac (presuming linux could be run on said mac in the first place).

dignam

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #27 on: November 18, 2020, 06:23:42 AM »
No facepunch from me.  Apple makes a pretty solid final product, but is generally a bit too expensive for what you get, IMO.

I built my computer over 4 years ago for ~$1000.  It has been running basically non-stop the entire time, and I have yet to find a game or program that challenges the GPU.  It's getting close to that point, however.

For you nerds:
GPU: GTX 1070
32GB RAM
256GB M.2 drive, + 1TB internal HDD
Core i5 6600k, overclocked to 4.1GHz

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #28 on: November 18, 2020, 12:18:19 PM »
Are you running SolidWorks in a Windows VM on a Mac?  o.O  That won't work, no (at least, not yet - I expect someone to solve it, just the performance of an x86 VM is up in the air).

This seems totally doable to me for an x86 mac. I used to run windows games (think: civ 6, wow, etc) in a windows vm, at max settings, under linux on a desktop. I was doing GPU passthrough. The performance hit was something in the range of <5%. The bigger problem was nvidia doesn't like it and so the drivers were always (artificially) an issue on the windows box, or the gpu had intentionally disabled pcie reset support, so you couldn't reboot the vm without rebooting the host os, etc.

I'd expect at least one of the mac vm programs to be able to run CAD fine on an x86 mac. Maybe you need a TB3 GPU enclosure to do it (TB3 limited bandwidth is probably a bigger perf penalty than the gpu passthrough), but it should work. At the very least, it'd work under linux on the same mac (presuming linux could be run on said mac in the first place).

I'm running it as a dual boot machine with Windows 8.1 and boot camp. Through a combination of CC games and Bestbuy sales I got price down to an equivalently powerful Dell plus a copy of windows. In comparisons with my friend's Dell they were really similar performance, but mine was about 3 lbs lighter and 2/3rds as thick... As mobility and weight were pretty important at the time, that was worth the price of a windows license (I lived in a village with no road access and the small planes that flew in and out limited carry on weight pretty strictly). I never did run it in a VM because the dual boot worked so well, but that is what I was considering if I were to upgrade. Mobility has been a lot less important lately and I've moved most of my work to a desktop, but if I'll be keeping an eye on the VM progress. I might be a candidate for the last generation of x86 machines...

@Syonyk, I read your post on the mess google made of blogger. Are you going to try it with the new hardware, or stay away on principle? I feel like SolidWorks has done much the same thing. Each new system is incompatible with the previous version, so once you update parts to the new version you can never open them again in the old. That means I have to use whatever version my clients are using. Every update is more processor intensive and usually does little to make the design process smoother. My current projects are in 2017, which pushed me to a desktop, but now the client is mumbling about "upgrading" and if it's anything like the last time I'm afraid even this liquid cooled monster is going to struggle with the "improved" version. Maybe that will give me the final push to pull the plug and RE/go get that pilot's license...

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #29 on: November 18, 2020, 08:49:24 PM »
Syonyk, I read your post on the mess google made of blogger. Are you going to try it with the new hardware, or stay away on principle?

Oh, I have hardware that will do it.  I'm just trying to use it less, in my quest to use the internet less, and in more restricted ways.  All I have for a laptop in the house at the moment is Clank - an old netbook from 8 years ago.  It works fine for things like this, with text, and used to work fine for blog posts (I normally edited photos on another system, but could do it on here in a pinch).

I think at this point, I'll finish out the solar posts on Blogger, this winter, and then move to something else for other posts.  Just leave that which I've posted there, so I don't have to worry about moving existing content.  There are plenty of links to my blog from various places, and I suppose I could do some redirects, but... I just really hate web admin and stuff, it's no longer remotely close to my area of expertise, so I'd rather not.  Keep a backup for when they turn the whole stupid thing off because nobody uses it anymore.

But, yes, I expect a new Mac Mini would chew through the abomination that is their code. :/  And that's part of the problem, write crappy code, people buy new hardware for it.

Quote
Maybe that will give me the final push to pull the plug and RE/go get that pilot's license...

I'm no help there.  Flying is awesome.  Just haven't done much of it this year, I've been working on other projects, and now that I have time to go fly, I'm isolating due to possible covid exposure, again. :/

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #30 on: November 18, 2020, 09:11:38 PM »
Keep a backup for when they turn the whole stupid thing off because nobody uses it anymore.
I haven't read through your solar series yet and I decided not to try to squeeze an install into this year. I'll have to take a look at that make a back up in case it goes away. I should probably do something with my much neglected blogspot blog too...

I'm no help there.  Flying is awesome.  Just haven't done much of it this year, I've been working on other projects, and now that I have time to go fly, I'm isolating due to possible covid exposure, again. :/

That is helpful

Syonyk

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #31 on: November 30, 2020, 06:00:21 PM »
It arrived last week and I had time to set it up over the weekend.

It's really, really good.

Fast.  Power miser.  Teh Snappy.

I'm impressed.

RentingIsPatience

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #32 on: December 12, 2020, 08:37:02 AM »
NO facepunch from me.  My sister and I just bought one for my mom to replace her 2009 iMac.
The 2009 iMac was finally running too slow for her, so we upgraded to the new Mac mini for about 60% of the cost of what her iMac was originally.
And now she has the ability to plug in two huge monitors for more than double the screen real estate that she had with the iMac.
She received it last week and is really happy with it.

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #33 on: December 12, 2020, 02:53:32 PM »
I spent the early 00s building and upgrading computers and becoming obsessed with faster hardware. Then the 2010s hit and I held onto my desktop for 10 years. Around 2017 I finally started to give laptops a chance.

Now I have a $950 laptop with 144Hz screen, 8-core CPU, 16GB replaceable RAM, mid-to-high range GPU with 6GB, 1TB PCIe x3 NVME storage, ~4.5 hour battery life... that battery is great when compared to any other laptop with this much hardware, and dismal in comparison to the Macbook Air and Pro using the M1. Battery doesn't matter much on the Mini ;) Like my laptop, it'll probably be plugged in most of the time.

I'm actually within my return period yet... and if I could just get like 95% success rate on games like StarCraft II and Diablo 3 running on an M1 (Air/Pro) at high settings, fast framerates and no crashes, I'd probably swoop in and try MacOS life (and great battery life... life). But right now there are just a handful of reports on Apple Silicon Games and they are mixed or low settings at best.

The Lenovo T14 has some great hardware... assuming you have the AMD model... ? :)

Anyway, I assume this Mac Mini purchase will require you to work an extra 4 years? ;)

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #34 on: December 12, 2020, 04:37:01 PM »
Anyway, I assume this Mac Mini purchase will require you to work an extra 4 years? ;)

Eh?  It's a straight across trade for the old one that didn't do most of what I was hoping it would do (mostly because the GPU was beyond terrible - Intel Integrated, and NOT one of the better years).

... and I may have traded some other hardware and monitors I had laying around, generally less utilized, for a LG 5k monitor that is stunningly beautiful.  That the AS hardware drives just fine.  Someone had won it in a raffle and lacked the computer to drive it or the use cases for it, and I do enough photo/video work that being able to view higher resolution native is nice.  I just don't like 4k, it's the wrong resolution for 27", but 5k gets me integer scaling to my preferred 1440p, while still showing the full image.  <.<

Mostly, though, I've been trying to get away from Intel for a variety of reasons, and this was an opportunity to do so for a lateral trade.


neo von retorch

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #35 on: December 12, 2020, 04:49:39 PM »
Eh?  It's a straight across trade for the old one that didn't do most of what I was hoping it would do

That's the joke! :) It wasn't a good joke, but you get what you pay for. Kind of sometimes.

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #36 on: December 13, 2020, 02:13:43 PM »
I have an older Intel laptop that I'd like to replace in the next few years. Not interested in buying the first generation of a new processor architecture though. I'll wait a year.

Syonyk

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #37 on: December 13, 2020, 02:38:31 PM »
I have an older Intel laptop that I'd like to replace in the next few years. Not interested in buying the first generation of a new processor architecture though. I'll wait a year.

For most people, that's the right answer.  While a lot works, and for light use (that doesn't need a blisteringly fast processor), there's plenty that either doesn't quite work or isn't yet ideal.  We'll see what the next year shakes out, but I expect to see a lot of support for things that aren't currently supported hammered out - optimistically including x86 VMs with decent performance.  The hard part of translating x86 binaries for ARM processors, the memory model issues (ARM has a far weaker memory model than x86), are solved by Apple having a toggle to just enable the strict memory ordering in hardware.

"Weird ARM issues" are nothing new to me, I've been using ARM desktops for 4 years or so (assorted Raspberry Pis), and I'm happy to deal with broken stuff to get away from Intel.

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #38 on: December 13, 2020, 03:09:40 PM »
The hard part of translating x86 binaries for ARM processors, the memory model issues (ARM has a far weaker memory model than x86), are solved by Apple having a toggle to just enable the strict memory ordering in hardware.

Presumably there's a way of enabling that on a per binary basis? Correctly written code should just work, of course, and it would be a shame to slow down code which didn't need it. 

I suppose there are other occasional issues - float to int conversion of infinities, for example.

Syonyk

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #39 on: December 13, 2020, 03:37:19 PM »
Presumably there's a way of enabling that on a per binary basis? Correctly written code should just work, of course, and it would be a shame to slow down code which didn't need it.

Yeah, it's a per-thread config setting.  Presumably fiddles a system control register bit on task swaps.

https://github.com/saagarjha/TSOEnabler

Quote
I suppose there are other occasional issues - float to int conversion of infinities, for example.

Likely, but there are some ARM instructions to handle the weirder common cases, and I doubt this is the bulk of the code.

In any case, Apple is getting 80% of native performance on their x86 emulation, which is *nuts*.  I'm sure the gigantic L1 caches don't hurt either...

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #40 on: December 14, 2020, 12:28:05 AM »
I would have bought a Mac Mini (~2016 or so), but it didn't have the multiple 4K support I wanted. ----> facepunch, etc etc.
I eventually got a referb Mac Pro (2013/ trashcan).  Having 10 square feet of desktop space, I feel is facepunch worthy IMHO.

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #41 on: December 14, 2020, 10:51:46 AM »
I'm a full time SW dev that has a MBP for work but I honestly prefer my Lenovo T14 with Ubuntu 20.04. Faster, cheaper, and better battery life, at least for the type of development that I do (embedded Linux).

My shop also does macOS and iOS work and we are generally really disappointed with recent changes in the Apple ecosystem. My photography friends have similar comments.

But I do hope that you enjoy your new mini, I used to buy them for myself.

I too prefer Ubuntu, but with work security protocol our IT group says we have to have a Mac or Windows. I went with a MBP because of the unix terminal and it's similarity to linux. But I'm hearing that the WSL on Windows has improved a lot over the past year, so now I'm somewhat second guessing my decision.

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #42 on: December 22, 2020, 01:56:45 PM »
Syonyk - can you tell me why you avoid Intel. I'll probably learn something.

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #43 on: December 22, 2020, 03:01:44 PM »
Not OP but I like to meddle and disparage Intel so... ;)

First, to their credit, their CPUs have been used in a great number of personal computing devices, and much to the benefit of many people. They have done some really great engineering over the years.

But... there is also AMD, who has been battling it out with Intel for roughly 50 years (there's an article out there about their history.) They are both big American companies... for what it's worth. Intel is just much bigger, and so AMD at least feels like the scrappy underdog, and as such, I find myself rooting for them, and against Intel.

Mostly I root for solid competition and benefits to the consumer.

AMD stumbled after their solid Athlon and OK Phenom chips - Intel got ahead and stayed just ahead of Intel. But with AMD struggling, Intel either consciously or ineptly failed to advance computing in the meantime. (Maybe it was just AMD and Intel flopping, but with Intel, it felt like they weren't trying very hard to push things forward.) The GHz wars mostly wrapped up about ten years ago when 4/5Ghz barriers were broken, and dual/quad core was quickly going from enthusiast to mainstream. Which means that until 2017, almost nothing changed. Finally AMD got their act in gear under Lisa Su, and suddenly 8 core CPUs became mainstream - this year laptops with 8 cores became common.

Intel is still... flopping though. That isn't a reason to spite them, but it does mean their chips aren't as good as AMDs - they have to run hotter and push more power through them to remain somewhat competitive, so they aren't the better option for your dollars. In the past, AMD was sometimes the better option for dollars, because they weren't competitive, so they competed on price. Intel will likely do the same if it becomes absolutely necessary, but for now, they have too much influence over OEMs and still hold too much market share to sweat AMD and lower their prices too much. (There are some cases of CPUs dropping from $2k to $1k in a generation after AMD started to sell much higher performing high-core CPUs at less than half the cost of Intel's...)

For Apple users, Intel was the only CPU option from 2006 to fall 2020, and the struggles of Intel meant Apple hardware was falling behind. With the Apple Silicon M1, at least the ultra portable and small form factor is wildly competitive again for Apple, and it is easily expected for other varieties of Apple computers to become very competitive as their new CPUs are introduced.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2020, 03:17:26 PM by neo von retorch »

Syonyk

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #44 on: December 22, 2020, 04:18:33 PM »
Syonyk - can you tell me why you avoid Intel. I'll probably learn something.

Short answer: They've demonstrated to me clearly, in the past 3-4 years, that they cannot reason about their chips.  The endless waves of security issues coming out mean that they no longer understand their chips, and they make claims that are false at the time they make them (and it's clear they don't know the claims are false).  I'm unwilling to support a company that builds things they no longer understand, and in the case of computer security, I think their chips are simply not trustworthy at this point.  It's been too many massive missteps, too many "Oh, gosh, we screwed that up too?..." responses to security researchers, and too many failed patches/fixes/hacks/microcode updates/etc for me to believe they have any clue as to what's going on internally in their processors anymore.  I don't know why - but I've proven to my own satisfaction that it's true.

As a result, I'm trying to move that of my life which I can off Intel.  I'm not entirely there yet, but I'm making good progress.  My homeserver got swapped out some while back for AMD parts to replace the Intel parts (which I've donated to the church server with hyperthreading disabled), and the Mac Mini has been swapped out.  I make heavy use of a Raspberry Pi 4 in my office, I've got an older Intel netbook that predates all the speculative execution vulnerabilities by not speculatively executing anything, and... I've still got an Intel MacBook Pro that runs the latest OS with hyperthreading generally disabled.  I can't justify replacing that one quite yet, but I'm careful with it.



Long answer, sorry for technical details if you don't care:

Meltdown and Spectre showed up some while back, and were pretty devastating to the concept of a processor enforcing security boundaries.  The processor enforced them architecturally - what you see in registers - but it wasn't even bothering to try to enforce them when doing the "run ahead" execution that most modern chips do (speculative execution, you keep the results and save time if you're right, throw the results away and try again if you'er wrong).  One could guide the speculative execution down a forbidden path, and before the processor caught up and realized it wasn't actually allowed to do that, it had altered the state of internal resources (typically the state of cache).  Through various creative techniques, one could encode data in how one disrupted cache lines and therefore read out the forbidden data.  For Meltdown, in particular, on 64-bit systems, this meant that you could read literally anything in RAM on the system if you knew how to look and ask politely.  You could freely, as a random user process, read kernel memory, and for a variety of reasons, 64-bit kernels keep all of physical memory mapped into the kernel address space.  So, I'm some random process with no permissions beyond the ability to run code and make a few basic syscalls, and I effectively have full read access to the entire system.  Crypto keys for SSL termination, cryptocurrency wallets, passwords, you could read everything.  Whoops.

However, at the time, while horrid, I was willing to give Intel some benefit of the doubt.  The system did behave properly, in terms of architecturally specified behaviors, and... maybe this was a one-off thing someone didn't think through.  Fine.  It would be bad if they didn't know about it, because it means they don't understand the chips, but it would also be bad if they knew about it and didn't do anything to correct it.  I wasn't sure which was correct, but neither one was good.

And then the world continued coming down around Intel, and I got my answers in the form of the vulnerabilities that cracked open production SGX enclaves.

SGX is a "secure enclave" that, on paper, allows you to perform private (nobody can see what you're doing) and correct (nobody can interfere with the validity of your results) calculations on a fully compromised system.  Intel explicitly considers the OS and such in bounds as attack surfaces for SGX.  Their claims were that even with a fully compromised, actively malicious operating system (ring 0) managing the enclaves, you could not either see into a production enclave or do something that would alter the results.  They did things like encrypting the memory they used, signing pages as they were swapped out to prevent the OS from loading an old or incorrect memory page when swapping things back in, and generally made an awful lot of claims about how you couldn't mess with SGX.

All of which were wrong, at the time they were made, on the current hardware of the time.

There's a laundry list of microarchitectural vulnerabilities out there, and I'm not going to point out most of them, but two in particular violate Intel's claims about their processors and SGX.

The first was Foreshadow/L1TF/L1 Terminal Fault.  This is a hardware implementation detail of the L1 cache (fast memory close to the CPU core) that means that, if page tables were misconfigured in a particular way, you could (speculatively) read the data out of another process's memory space - including that of an SGX enclave.  If you knew what you were doing, you could violate just about any security boundary in the system.  User to kernel, virtual machine to hypervisor, virtual machine to virtual machine, OS to SGX... just ask nicely, and you can read out what's going on.  In particular, you could read the memory out of an SGX enclave.  Because SGX enclaves store their register state in their memory when exiting, you could also read out the register data from the current enclave execution state.  Throw in some other tricks and techniques to single step an enclave, and you could quite literally read out the entire memory and register state of a production SGX enclave, at every single step of execution.  This includes private keys used by the loaders and such that you weren't supposed to be able to read, ever.

Whoops.  So much for "Can't read the enclave."  But, hey, at least you can't mess with it, right?

Except, you can.  Plundervolt is research in which the OS (explicitly untrusted, remember) can make use of an undocumented (!) hardware configuration register (MSR) for undervolting the processor.  This allows the OS to improve power efficiency, but as implemented, it also allows the OS to lower the voltage just enough that certain complex instructions start faulting.  You can, as the OS, edge the voltage down until multiply and AES encryption operations start faulting, but everything else works fine.  These instructions have a longer chain of transistors involved and will show the signs of overclocking/undervolting first.

So, you run the chip down to the edge of faulting, launch the production SGX enclave, and... it runs at the reduced voltage, with multiply and AES instructions faulting in the predictable ways.  Which means the enclave gets the results wrong.  Not only does this usually allow you to pull out crypto keys (again), it means that the claim that the OS can't impact operation of the enclave was also wrong.

And the list goes on, and on.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transient_execution_CPU_vulnerability has a lot of it.

As far as I'm concerned, these demonstrate (well enough for my convincing) that Intel (a) can no longer reason about their CPUs and all their behaviors, because (b) they're simply too complex to reason about anymore, even with literally all the data about how they're built.

And let's not discuss their hyperthreading leaks, and outright architecturally incorrect behavior on Skylake...



AMD is impacted by the branch predictor vulnerabilities (Spectre classes), and ARM is as well, because these are just fundamentally an issue with out of order and speculative execution.  You can't "run ahead" without predicting branches, and branch predictors can be mis-trained.  There are mitigations for some of the issues, by flushing or scrambling the branch predictors on process change, but AMD has been largely unimpacted by the other huge classes of vulnerabilities Intel is struggling to keep up with.

Does this mean AMD is more secure?  Well... evidence points to yes.  They seem to detect "Huh, that's weird..." and wait for the execution to catch up to resolve it in a wide range of conditions that Intel just blasts on through.  I expect this might be from their long process disadvantage - mis-speculation is simply burning power, so waiting around in the oddball hard-to-predict cases saves power that is likely to have been wasted.  Intel, recently, has been struggling with their process being utterly stuck, so they've been pushing the bounds of "Anywhere we can gain some performance, we must."  Getting creative with speculation to save a cycle here and there does add up, as long as it's not about to blow up in your face...



So, given all that, I've been trying to move that which I can away from Intel.  Some goes to AMD (homeserver, possibly my office utility NUC at some point once the comparable AMD system is in stock), some goes to ARM (Pi4, PineBook Pro, Mac Mini).  I generally think that ARM is going to be the future of most computing, and so I'm more inclined to move to ARM when I can.  Apple's new silicon solves the main issue with ARM - that it's been slow.  The Mac Mini is, by far, the fastest computer that I have (some other stuff might out-throughput it, but... probably not).  It sips power (in a solar powered office), is blisteringly fast, and is not-Intel.

And I absolutely accept that I am being financially sub-optimal by swapping out functioning hardware, long before it's obsolete, to get away from Intel.  I'm trying to do it as even as I can (selling the old Mac Mini for most of what the AS one cost), and where I can't, well... honestly, I just don't care.  I'm at a point where I can live out some of my convictions/desires about computing, so I'm doing so.  It doesn't have a real impact on my financial state, which is doing just fine.

Should you (in the generic sense) get rid of Intel systems?  Probably not.  I don't think that many of these issues are terribly likely to be exploited, but on the flip side, it's also impossible to tell that they have been exploited because they leave no traces anywhere.

You should, probably, consider a few steps if you do anything terribly sensitive on your computers, though:
- Disable hyperthreading.  Plenty of ways to do this.  Hyperthreads leak.  Horridly.
- Make sure you keep your BIOS and OS up to date.  Install the damned updates.  Yes, they slow things down.  Beats some bit of Javascript being able to read out all your system memory, far as I'm concerned.  There are people on this forum who still suggest using Windows XP or Windows 7, and to me, that's lunacy.  I will get rid of daily use hardware when it stops getting OS updates, period.

markbike528CBX

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #45 on: December 22, 2020, 05:12:47 PM »
Syonyk - can you tell me why you avoid Intel. I'll probably learn something.

Not Syonyk, not a chip geek or anything. 

Back when Apple was going to intel, I tried to stay away as long as possible.  My  Mac G5 (Power PPC 750) not only was a non-x86 chip, but ran completely different firmware and microcode, to the extent that it was big endian (most significant digit first) in stead of little endian (like Intel etc). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endianness

I saw no compelling reason for 15 years to change to a chip style had the majority of the malware written for it (and the associated MicroSoft OS's)

Browser age eventually crept up.  But even with an Intel chip in my new-to-me refurbished Mac, I do my best to expunge Microsoft code. 

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #46 on: December 22, 2020, 06:03:13 PM »
Meltdown and Spectre showed up some while back, and were pretty devastating to the concept of a processor enforcing security boundaries.

I'm all for bashing Intel, but some* ARM cores are also vulnerable to both Meltdown and Spectre. In fact, ARMageddon was the first attack in this family.

* - The ones that support Out of Order execution, just like Intel. EDITed to add: well, some of them are only affected by Spectre but the A75 is also vulnerable to Meltdown.
« Last Edit: December 22, 2020, 06:13:34 PM by PDXTabs »

Syonyk

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #47 on: December 22, 2020, 07:36:29 PM »
I'm all for bashing Intel, but some* ARM cores are also vulnerable to both Meltdown and Spectre. In fact, ARMageddon was the first attack in this family.

* - The ones that support Out of Order execution, just like Intel. EDITed to add: well, some of them are only affected by Spectre but the A75 is also vulnerable to Meltdown.

The ARM cores with OOO are vulnerable to Spectre, but the sort of thing that allows for Meltdown-style attacks is far less common.  It's entirely possible that this is because nobody needed that level of performance out of ARM cores, and they were just lagging far enough back that they didn't have the same issues, but AMD is also not broadly vulnerable to Meltdown.  And the rest of the issues are pretty darn Intel-specific.

However, I disagree with your assertion that ARMageddon was in the same class of attacks.  It provided the various cache timing techniques that were used for later papers (in that it's the same group of researchers, hardly surprising that they used their prior research), but it doesn't relate to speculative execution at all.  Just cache based attacks, which have been a thing on desktop computers pretty much since they had caches (and we've been fighting that sort of battle for decades with crypto algorithms as well, you ideally want a constant time, memory oblivious algorithm... eh, more rabbitholes).

It's certainly possible that ARM will have a similar set of uarch vulns as performance increases, and I'm certainly looking forward to more aggressive probing of the AS behaviors now that they're out into the general public hands.  But, at the same time, the various groups designing ARM cores haven't given the same sort of utter lack of confidence about their claims that Intel has.  Had it ended at Meltdown/Spectre, it would have been an interesting time in computer security, would have involved the kernel changes and page table isolation (which is a royal pain in the rear for certain things), and... we would have moved on.  But that Intel claimed their enclaves were immune to software based attacks from ring 0, when they absolutely were not, in a wide variety of ways... that tells me Intel just can't reason about their chips anymore, and that they don't understand them.  If Intel can't understand their chips, I don't want to run them in things I care about, as I can get away from them.

PDXTabs

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #48 on: December 22, 2020, 10:08:54 PM »
But that Intel claimed their enclaves were immune to software based attacks from ring 0, when they absolutely were not, in a wide variety of ways... that tells me Intel just can't reason about their chips anymore, and that they don't understand them.  If Intel can't understand their chips, I don't want to run them in things I care about, as I can get away from them.

I'm fine with all of that sentiment, but I'm pretty sure that ARM never said in their marketing material that userspace code could snoop TrustZone, which is what ARMageddon is.

cerat0n1a

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Re: Facepunch away. I bought an Apple Silicon Mac Mini.
« Reply #49 on: December 23, 2020, 01:38:01 AM »
I'm certainly looking forward to more aggressive probing of the AS behaviors now that they're out into the general public hands.

Isn't it billions of Arm chips per year - couple of orders of magnitude more than Intel? Would be interesting to know whether black hats are more likely to try attacking Apple phones, or Apple laptops.

Apple's new silicon solves the main issue with ARM - that it's been slow. 

The TOP500 list currently shows the Arm based Fugaku supercomputer at the top, with a performance 2-3x faster than the 2nd place (Power-based) IBM supercomputer at Oak Ridge. I don't think we'll be getting a few hundred petaflops in a desktop any time soon though.