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Questions for ACS by KSQw5Ts8


									                                            Revision Tutorial ACS 2010 - 1

Revision Questions for ACS – 2010 (mainly compiled from existing

This pack - Server Technology/Computer Security/ Benchmarking/
Processor Technology/ PC Technology see separate tutorial packs
(including answers) for Embedded Systems and Bus Technology
Topic - Server Technology
1. Review the role of servers in modern IT configurations such as those
   used by our department
2. RAS is a common term used in server deployment – Explain the term
3. x86 servers are very popular
Explain what is meant by an x86 server
The answer should make reference to:
    Typical processors e.g. Xeon
    Chipsets – difference from desktop PC and laptops
    The core hardware
    Integrated peripherals
    Features not found on a typical desktop PC
Increasingly the term x86-64 or x64 is used – why ?
Desktop PCs can be used as servers – what are the issues ?
4. Name the major manufacturers of x86 server products
   Justify their interest in the x86 server market
   Discuss the size of this market and the market share of the major
5. How does the price of an entry level x86 server compare with a well
   specified desktop PC ?
6. Draw a block diagram showing the architecture of a classic PC and
   compare this with the block diagram of an x86 server
7. A growing area of the server market is that of blade servers – what is a
   blade server ?
   Review the role of blade servers based on the following architectures:
   x86-64, EPIC (Intel Itanium), and RISC (IBM Power) blades
8. Virtualisation is becoming an issue for data centres – explain the
   nature of server virtualisation and storage virtualisation

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9. Review the role of an administrator of a small PC network with one or
   more entry level servers (e.g. level of skill needed/ difference in
   managing a Windows PC compared with an x64 Windows or Linux OS)
10. Review the impact of ‘the cloud’ on server provision

Topic - Computer Security
Background Questions
1. Define the term IP address
      Internet Protocol
      Classically a 32-bit address - Normally given in a dotted format

2. What is meant by the internet community ?
      The internet was designed with the intention of cooperative computing
      Defence against hackers was not considered as a critical feature

3. How do hackers fit into the internet community ?
      They don’t -Security was for banking, military -TCP/IP was for academics

4. Define the term UDP and TCP
      UDP User Datagram Protocol
      UDP basically allows a TCP/IP frame to get to the destination IP address – just
       like a letter
      TCP Transmission Control Protocol
      TCP ensures that there is a reliable connection

5. What are UDP and TCP ports ?
      Computers that use TCP/IP obtain services from one another via “handles”
       known as ports – also called end points
      Many ports are pre-assigned to specific network services, such as HTTP (port
       80) and FTP (port 21); these are called well-known ports

6. UDP and TCP ports - usage
      A remote computer requests information on your use of a particular service
       with a corresponding port address
      e.g. have you some task which will respond to a UDP or TCP frame sent to
       port 1234 ?
      In the case of say a web server there is a well defined protocol attached to
       the application - HTTP

7. Why do open ports pose a security risk ?
      The example of an open FTP port is a good one – a hacker might try to upload
       a Trojan Horse which might be activated by a subsequent attack
      A more sinister example is where a Trojan horse is executing on your PC and
       listening on port 666 for a UDP frame which will activate it
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8. What can we do to protect a PC from port probes ?
       Disable unwanted applications and stealth any ports that are not needed –
        this may prevent applications such as Windows update from working
       A home PC may be better operating in full stealth mode – you always initiate
        activities and reject any port requests not originating from your PC

General Questions

9. List the major characteristics of:
         A virus
         A Trojan
         A worm
         Spam
         Spyware
         Adware
         Virus Hoaxes
         A blended attack
         Zero day attacks
         Buffer overflow
         Denial of Service attack on a server
         hacker
        How can the following be protected from these ?
           a home PC
           an office PC
           a departmental servers
10. How can a firewall be tested against attack (so called leak testing)?
    Give examples of such tests
11. Explain how a virtual browser environment operates and the
    benefits of virtual browsing including protection from zero day

12. Why with all the free antivirus software and free firewall products is
    computer security such a problem ?

       Why are the same viruses around for years ?

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Topic - Benchmarking
   1. Define computer benchmarking
   2. Why do we need to benchmark PCs and Servers ?
   3. List the major components in a modern PC/ Server which can be
      Hence design benchmark suites for:
         An office PC
         A multimedia workstation
         An enthusiast’s PC
         A management database server
   4. What are the differences when benchmarking a server rather than
      a PC ?
   5. How can a single figure of merit (benchmark) be achieved for
      typical classes of PCs ( e.g. home, games, office, ultra portable)
   6. What are the obvious pitfalls in benchmarking PCs
   7. Is it worth while to write your own benchmarking suite ?
   8. Why is benchmarking so difficult ?
   9. You are benchmarking a PC with a processor which has multiple
      cores – what are the issues compared with traditional single core
      systems ?
 10. What is the role of a product such as SANDRA in managing a
     typical network of PCs ?
 11. Certain features of hardware and compilers can confuse
     benchmarking programs - suggest how
     caching could distort results
     compiler optimization could cause problems
    Suggest how these can be worked round

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Topic - Processor Technology
1. How important is it to have the fastest processor available in
    a home PC ? a business PC ?       a departmental server ?
2. At what point will x86 processors become obsolete ?
3. List the trends which have dominated the x86 processor development
4. Intel and AMD have upgraded the x86 architecture to support 64-bit
   operations. Explain the technology of 64-bit processing.
  Review the markets at which these products are aimed.
  Discuss how the different approaches to processor development
  adopted by AMD and Intel.
5. Review recent developments in the x86 product range by Intel –
   Justify each development e.g. Core i7-9xx, Atom, Larrabee (general
   purpose x86 array), Core i7-8xx, Core i5, Core i3 (on-chip GPU etc)
6. Intel has updated the Core 2 architecture with a range of processors
   called Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7 (sometimes marketed as the Best
   processors of Good, Better, Best) . List the major features and
   application areas for these products. Justify the replacement of the
   FSB by QuickPath or DMI.
   Why use this product branding ?
7. Intel has a series of x86 products aimed at the ultra portable and
   embedded market called the Atom. List the features and application
   areas of the Atom product. Compare the Atom with the Core i3 / i5 /
   i7 products.
8. High performance graphics are normally implemented using GPUs –
   However Intel has an x86 product which is targeted in the high
   performance graphics area – Larrabee (x86 processor array)
   Review the features and future of this product.
9. AMD has products such as Phenom, Athlon, Turion, Sempron, Geode
   and Opteron.
   Discuss how these map onto equivalent Intel products

10. The x86/ x64 processor market is big business – review the role of
   Intel and AMD in providing processors for this market

11. Where do the RISC (e.g. ARM products) fit into all this ?
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Topic - PC Technology
1. Many companies developed innovative microcomputer products in
   the late 70s and early 80s which had ‘office packages’ but most failed
       discuss the reasons for these failures
       what can we learn from this ?
2. What was the background to the original IBM-PC and why has it been
   so successful ?
3. Review the history of the PC under the following headings:
      Generations/ Processors / Buses/ Software/ Standards

4. History may be interesting but what relevance do Q1-Q3 have for us ?
5. Who needs to be informed about the future of the PC ?
6. Discuss the trends in the PC product:
    Total sales

    Products (Desktops to MIDs Mobile Internet Devices)

    Microsoft’s role in PC development

    Automated maintenance (vPro)

    Hardware assisted security (Trusted Platform)

7. Discuss the issues involved in using PCs in organizations from
   education to health care.
    Are PCs appropriate for these tasks ?

    There is much debate about PC lifecycles – compare the 3/4/5 year

      lifecycle models ( 2 years for notebooks )
    Review the issues relating to the TCO Total Cost of Ownership of PCs

    The latest PC motherboards contain the vPro hardware – should the

      Dept of Eng & Tech purchase PCs using this technology?
8. Discuss the limitations of the PC platform and explain how Cloud
   Computing provides potential solution for selected users.
   Hence justify why companies such as IBM, Microsoft, Amazon,
   Google etc are very keen to promote the concept of Cloud
   Computing and discuss who these products are targeted at.
9. In spite of problems most office/ home users still use PCs. Justify
10. Explain why many users have preferred to use Windows XP rather
    than Vista. Discuss whether Windows 7 will be more widely accepted
    than Vista and whether users will migrate to the 64-bit version
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Outline Answers

Topic - Servers
1. Review the role of servers in modern IT configurations such as those used by
   our department

The simple networking of PCs in a peer-to-peer configuration is simple to implement
and brings advantages e.g. sharing resources and common access to departmental

However introducing a server into a departmental network brings many advantages
     The configuration is more structured
     It is obvious who is in charge – the server administrator
     Security is easier to establish – individual PC firewalls, anti-virus software can
        be updated via the server
     Backup is centralised and can be automated
     Users can be given appropriate access to system resources
     Resources can be shared according to the individual PC user’s privilege
     Maintenance is simplified e.g. application inventories can be centralised, user
        logs can be monitored

Servers become essential to the efficient running of the organisation as mission
critical files are stored on the departmental server.

The server becomes a key feature in the network and RAS kicks into action –
Reliability, Accessibility and Serviceability

A server outage may mean that users cannot logon, cannot access their data

An extreme client-server configuration is called thin client. The server holds and
executes all programmes, stores all data whereas the client is merely a networked
graphical workstation. There is no need to upgrade the client or provide virus
protection since it is only a display system controlled by network packets from the

In the Department of Eng & Tech a different client-server model is used. The clients
are standard PCs and are loaded with the various application packages from MS
Office to CAD packages. The programmes execute on the client PC but most user
files are stored in the user areas on the server. When a user logs off only the files on
the server are stored.

2. RAS is a common term used in server deployment – Explain the term

Reliability, Availability and Serviceability

The failure of an individual PC in a network will reduce the productivity of the
individual user a PC – this reduction in productivity may be important

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The failure of a server in a single server environment may be critical in that a small
organisation may be in serious financial problems, if no users can access central
account documents – server reliability is thus critical

The reliability of servers can be improved compared to a desktop PC by better
mechanical construction, better electrical layout, better thermal design, redundant
components such as power supplies, disks etc etc

Availability is reflected in the up-time of a server – 5 9s is often quoted 99.999%
availability which will relate to features such as the ability to recover from an error
such as a serious application crash or the communication features which deal with
high network traffic

Serviceability relates to the ability to swap a failed component such as a disk –
increasingly this is supported by hot swap components – a disk can be powered
down and replaced – a feature of SATA and SAA disk sub-systems

3. x86 servers are very popular

Explain what is meant by an x86 server
The answer should make reference to:
Typical processors
Chipsets – difference from desktop pc and laptops
The core hardware
Integrated peripherals
Features not found on a typical desktop pc
Increasingly the term x64 is used – why ?

Traditional server used ‘heavy metal technology’ derived from mainframe
technology. The systems were expensive and used operating systems such as UNIX.
These systems require an expert team to support server operation
For simple applications such as file and print servers these systems were overkill and
it was obvious that a low cost PC with an upgraded Windows operating system could
provide most facilities at lower cost and could be maintained by an administrator
with enhanced PC maintenance skills

This was the start of the x86 server market which now is the first choice for many
organisations – the x86 server market accounts for 50% of server sales by value and
the vast majority of servers numerically (98%)

Processors – Intel have a range of processors designated for use in servers – the
Xeon range e.g. there are Xeon chips which are similar to say core i7-9xx processors
except two of these processors can be installed on a server motherboard using a
server chipset. Server applications/ OS generally make better use of a multicore/
HyperThreaded/ multiprocessor environment. Hardware features supporting
virtualisation are provided and are increasingly deployed

Server chipsets also support buffered ECC memory, SATA and SAS hard disks with
Raid and hot swap and usually have enhanced facilities for monitoring operation
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X64 implies support for 64-bit server Oss

4. Name the major manufacturers of x86 server products

Justify their interest in the x86 server market
Discuss the size of this market and the market share of the major companies

The big three in the x86 (or x64) server market are HP, IBM and Dell – HP sell the
most servers numerically but HP and IBM have similar server revenues

This is a large market with the attraction that it is less cut throat than the desktop/
laptop market

Entry level prices are quite cheap (similar to well specified PCs) but nearly all users
will add significant extra memory/ disks/ backup facilities/ etc

5. How does the price of an entry level x86 server compare with a well specified
   desktop PC ?

As indicated above, entry level servers often appear to be low cost (as an incentive
to buy into a product line) but for most applications more memory, additional disk
drives, backup support, OS licences will add significantly to the baseline cost

The major selling feature of a server is RAS whereas for desktops it is performance/
cost ratio

Don’t be tempted to use desktop hardware in a mission critical server environment –
it is all about RAS

6. Draw a block diagram showing the architecture of a classic pc and compare this
   with the block diagram of an x86/x64 server

   See website for PowerPoint – server audio/ graphics requirements are basic

7. A growing area of the server market is that of blade servers – what is a blade
   server ?

   A blade server is really a computer on a card but lacking central facilities such as
   power supply, cooling, communications, monitoring support

   The card plugs into a backplane of a support console which supplies central
   services to a large number of blade cards – this is very cost effective and simplifies

   If more computing performance is required additional blade cards can be added –
   the OS must be able to share the software tasks between the blade processors –
   whereas desktop OSs e.g. Windows is poor at this server software such as
   Windows Server/ Linux can scale to support many processors efficiently
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  Review the role of blade servers based on the following architectures:
  x86, EPIC, and RISC blades

  x86 servers traditionally run Windows/ Linux operating systems

  EPIC servers are based on Intel’s 64-bit Itanium architecture which is aimed at
  high integrity applications (banking/ finance etc)

  RISC systems (e.g. Power from IBM) compete with mainframes

  8. Virtualisation is becoming an issue for data centres – explain the nature of
  server virtualisation and storage virtualisation

  The classical approach to running two separate applications which require
  different OSs is to have two servers e.g. a Windows server to run IIS and a Linux
  server to run Apache

  √ applications can be optimised for the individual hardware

  ! two lots of hardware to support
  ! applications may not require all the computing performance of the platform

  Solution – use virtualisation which effectively allows two operating systems to co-
  exist on the same hardware

  The OSs are effectively partitioned from each other – ideally if Windows crashes
  Linux will be unaffected

  There will be a performance overhead but if each server is only 30% loaded this
  may be marginal

  Virtualisation can be entirely a software based function but with modern
  processors support for virtualisation is built into the hardware of the processor

  Although most people think about using virtualisation to run different operating
  systems on the same hardware, features such as networking can be virtualised –
  the network facilities as seen by an OS or application can be entirely virtual – the
  mapping to the real networking hardware is achieved through a virtualisation
  layer – reconfiguring the network interface for an application is managed by the
  virtualisation layer

9. Review the role of an administrator of a small PC network with one or more
   entry level servers

The suppliers of servers and server software are usually keen to de-skill many areas
of server administration by offering preconfigured systems and remote assistance –
as a result users are usually more loyal to suppliers than in the desktop market

Microsoft imply that a proficient Windows PC administrator can easily acquire the
skills to maintain a Windows based server – Linux provides more of a challenge and
requires more training etc but the financial benefits are significant

10. The cloud and servers
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Internet based server provision can be in many forms – a remote server which you
physically rent and upload files to/ a remote storage environment which is secure
and expands to meet archive requirement/ virtual server provision where you rent
e.g. a virtual Windows server which is located in a remote data centre
The selling point is often elastic computing - you rent what you currently need

Computer Security – General Questions

Home PC – install a security suite from a well regarded source – free products are
acceptable but may require more effort if the products are not integrated (firewall/
virus scanner, antispyware tool etc) – visit websites offering security guidelines e.g.
Microsoft and establish basic rules for safe operation – ensure security products are
correctly installed and set to highest level of security and check updates are
occurring as expected (including Automatic Updates) – don’t visit ‘dodgy’ websites,
don’t open enclosures unless you are really sure where they come from, don’t
download antispyware tools etc when a popup window suggests you are infected –
do run full security scans on a regular basis – look out for unexpected behaviour by
the PC (slowing down/ unexpected level of activity) – backup important files – have
strong passwords etc etc

Office PC – many of the same rules as above but it is worth purchasing profession
security tools and management tools such as vPro – also ensure the backup strategy
can survive a severe cyber attack – ideally the data should be partitioned from the
OS and applications – rebuilding a virused PC may then mainly consist of reimaging
the OS and applications – vPro has all the tools to do this from a central monitoring

Departmental server – a server can suffer from any classic PC cyber attack – however
it has an additional problem – you can’t run a server in stealth mode – the most
serious attack will be a distributed Denial of Service where many PCs will try to
overload the server causing it to crash – there needs to be a strategy and
appropriate testing to ensure that if the number of connections becomes very large
then the server will disconnect users which are not completing the appropriate
handshaking elements of the protocol – server logs need to be inspected if activity is
high to identify attack echanisms

There are many packages to test firewalls on the Internet – they try to exploit basic
weaknesses in firewalls e.g. the TooLeaky test tries to open your default browser and
contact the hacker’s website on port 80, potentially sending your details as part of
the GET command – firewalls must allow port 80 traffic but the firewall should check
that the browser is under user control rather than a rogue application
.. see ZoneAlarm case study for other examples

A11 using material from ZoneAlarm case study

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This works by using a technique called Virtual Browsing - Zone Alarm’s ForceField
product creates a ‘clone’ of your computer – a virtual browser environment. As you
surf, any malicious unsolicited downloads are safely contained in that clone so they
never reach your actual computer

By creating a virtual browser ForceField can shield you from these Zero Day attacks
because unlike traditional anti-spyware and antivirus software, ForceField does not
need to know the threat in order to stop it. Instead, it automatically catches and
neutralizes stealth Web browser downloads in a safe, virtual data space that acts as
your computer's clone

Features include - Idle port blocking opens in-use ports only during transmission and
immediately shuts them post-transmission to seal them from exploit
Some firewalls still lack this protection -stateful inspection protects you from
spoofing-style invasions by examining port and packet information. Some firewalls
still lack this protection - full stealth mode cloaks every single port to make a
computer undetectable to port scans

More features:
  • Self-protection combats attempts to hijack or sabotage ZoneAlarm and
      defaults to a protected state if attacked. Other firewalls vary in their ability to
      fend off such attacks
  • OSFirewall monitors for suspicious and dangerous behaviour at the operating
      system level – a ZoneAlarm exclusive
  • MD5 spoof prevention prevents hackers from spoofing applications through
      program validation
  • Behavioural rootkit detection blocks rootkit installation and activity based
      upon behaviour rather than signatures or heuristics


It is clear that many computer are poorly protected and infect surrounding systems


Outline Answers

A standard by which a computer system can be measured or judged

A test used to compare performance of hardware and/or software.

Many trade magazines have developed their own benchmark tests, which they use
when reviewing a class of products. When comparing benchmark results, it is
important to know exactly what the benchmarks are designed to test. A benchmark
that tests graphics speed, for example, may be irrelevant to you if the type of
graphical applications you use are different from those used in the test.
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Checking whether a PC will run specific OSs and applications. For example: when
Vista was introduced, Microsoft had a benchmarking package which allowed users to
benchmark their PC and to get information as to whether their PC hardware was
suitable to run Vista. It potentially avoided users spending time and money loading
Vista on a PC which was unsuitable.

Microsoft had hardware specifications for Vista Premium edition (1 GHz Processor, 1
GB RAM , 128 MB Graphics Memory (along with many other graphic requirements
including DirectX 9-Capable Graphics Processor ) but the benchmarking tool was
easier to use.

Benchmark Suites allow a range of PCs which appear to meet our requirements to be
compared and allow us to get the best value for money – the problem is always that
the benchmarks may not be relevant to our target applications.

Server benchmarking is more standardised with organisations such as The Standard
Performance Evaluation Corporation (SPEC) providing benchmarks such as
SPECmail2009 – this currently only has four entries.

Using the SPEC information on the server family of your choice, you can compare the
performance of servers from the major manufacturers

You can benchmark:
     Processor e.g. Integer, Floating point performance, multimedia performance
       and now encryption performance also cache performance
     Memory performance
     Graphics subsystem
     Disk subsystem
     Network subsystem

    These need to be combined into some kind of figure of merit which usually
    depends on the application area

    e.g. Office PC benchmark – the PC will be used for Office Applications (Word,
    Excel, Access, OneNote), email, internet, financial packages, antivirus software
    All relatively undemanding tasks which will execute on any modern PC however
    it is good to have a benchmark suite since this will aid selection of an
    appropriate PC – best buy etc

    e.g. multimedia workstation -

The same areas apply to the hardware of a server but purchasers are usually more
interested in the number of transactions per second that a server can handle – hence

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the SPEC results are useful. Whereas a PC is not going to operate without user
assistance a server is usually expected to run independently

One way used by magazines is to establish a test machine against which other
systems are compared.

The individual benchmarks are recorded for each PC and then a weighting placed on
each benchmark result to give a single score – a games PC would have a heavy
weighting placed on the graphics

Games are often used to benchmark multimedia PCs, however often the processor
performance/ cache size/ disk performance are not that important – the graphics
subsystem is actually the critical component

Writing benchmarking software is very demanding especially if you think that the
company who designed, say a desktop PC, will sue you if your benchmark software
unfairly compares their PC with a rival product.
The operation of a benchmark suite needs to be as transparent as possible so that
we can be sure what it measures.

It probably isn’t worth developing a custom benchmark suite unless there is a
definite demand e.g. SANDRA doesn’t have a module to test a feature which is vital
to your project area.

Some factors:
   PCs and servers are complex systems with many component parts
   The tasks which PC deploy are so varied
   Compilers may optimize certain code so loops etc are bypassed
   Each individual has a different way of working
   There are many background activities on a PC which may interfere with the
   A PC with a fresh install of OS and applications may behave differently after
    two years of use – patching and local setups etc

Multi-core systems don’t work that well for classic OSs and traditional application

Things may get better with .NET framework 4.0 but there is still a long way to go
before the software really uses multi-core systems to full advantage

SANDRA can be used as an automated inventory tool allowing system administrators
to record what they have connected to a network

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If, in the future, a PC appears to be performing slowly then the current setup can be
compared with the delivery setup e.g. page file size, clock speed etc

Suppose we have a benchmark program which completely resides in cache memory
The performance of this program will be much better than one which is requires
frequent cache updates and far worse than one which forces paging and the
swapping of fragments to the page file on the hard disk

Compiler optimization can eliminate code which produces results which are not used

Say I put 10 operations in a loop – the compiler spots that they are all the same and
removes the code thus destroying my benchmark

Processor Technology 32-bit/ 64-bit Processors

It is human nature to want the fastest and latest processor - the processor
performance always appears on the benchmark for a PC - features such as disk drive
performance are not memorable.

Note: State of the art processor performance may only be 10-15% above the middle
of the road product but the cost may be an additional 30-50% or more

Money spent on extra memory or a bigger disk drive normally has a better pay back
in terms of performance

 home PC - might make the difference with a game but a better graphics card is a
   sounder investment – latest chips support Intel Viiv technology for media center
   and incorporate virtualization technology
 office PC - tasks are typically very mixed and rarely cpu intensive, a bigger disk will
   be a better investment
 dept server - processor performance is often less important than disk/ network
   performance and size of RAM – however dual-core processors and quad-core etc
   will give significant benefit for processor intensive tasks

When nobody wants to buy them - there is a market for the foreseeable future

Intel traditionally had independent Road Maps for :
 the x86 range of processors (traditionally called IA32) now with significant 64-bit
    features using so called Intel 64 technology and
 the 64-bit Itanium processor (IA64) – Intel Architecture 64-bit

It is hard to see the advantages of using an Itanium in a PC used for office/ business
activities – this product is intended for enterprise applications

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It is easier to see why 64-bit graphics would be useful in multimedia production and
3D games etc but the first is very specialist and the second relates as much to the
graphics card as to the conventional CPU

The extended x86 architecture (e.g. Intel 64) with 64-bit support is an attractive
option – old code can be mixed with new code – future-proof

This is not a detailed VLSI design course - the simple facts are -

All manufacturers have the same basic technologies for improving processor
performance including:

    reduce the die size - allows faster operation and lower power dissipation
     (requires capital investment in new plant) – latest technology 45 nm (e.g. the
     Core 2 Duo series) – next generation is 32 nm e.g. new Xeon etc
    increase the transistor count to give a dual or quad-core system but reduce
     the clock speed to keep the chip cool – overall result more processing than a
     faster single core but at significantly lower power
    reduce the clock and processor voltage when system is lightly loaded –
     excellent for mobile systems – significant power saving for all users
    increase cache size - allows faster access to code and data ( increases
     complexity and reduces yield of chip) – initial Core i7 processors have a
     versatile 6MB L3 cache shared between the cores
    increase front side bus speed - allows faster processor data transfers
     (increases interface logic complexity) – Core 2 Duo E6300 FSB = 1066 MHz and
     replacing FSB technology by the modern QuickPath (Core i7) or for AMD
     HyperTransport technology also DMI (core i5)
    increase parallelism in instruction execution - allows more instructions per
     clock (increases transistor count lowering yield) – Core architecture allows
     four simultaneous instructions
    widen internal buses - more data transferred per clock - clock (increases
     transistor count making chips more expensive)
    add extensions to the 32-bit registers to give 64-bit features including 64-bit
     addressing (Intel call this Intel 64)
    add additional interfaces to each core to mimic a dual core (Hyper-Threading)
    support virtualization in hardware – allowing tasks to be isolated (e.g. in a
     media center PC – two users supported with independent tasks – crash-
    on-chip memory controllers with fast bus to memory – AMD do this with
     HyperTransport – Intel do this with the Core i7 using their QuickPath
    smart decoding of instructions into micro-operations plus combining certain
     micro-operations into a single operation (micro-op fusion) – Core Architecture
    Execute Disable technology which detects that an attempt has been made to
     an area designated as code (e.g. by a virus or a malicious buffer overflow)
    on-chip graphics controller

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 Upgrading the x86 product from 32-bits to 64-bits is something that Intel could
  have done at any time in the Pentium era.
 In the 80s Intel had performed a similar process when they upgraded the 16-bit
  80286 to the 32-bit 80386.
 The traditional 64-bit market has involved specialist server and workstation
  products from IBM, HP and Sun (and others). However many of these processors
  have reached the end of their lifecycles and required large investment. HP had
  worked with Intel on the Itanium and publicly declared the Itanium to be the
  successor for HP’s 64-bit products

So Intel was originally keen not to disturb the 64-bit market by introducing a 64-bit
Pentium. They put their efforts into producing Pentium 4s with higher clock rates.
However AMD extended the AMD x86 products (AMD64) to allow native 64-bit
processing (particularly for use in servers) and Intel eventually followed suite (Intel

So there are 64-bit enhancements to most x86 processor products – this means the
basic x86 registers (EAX, EBX etc) have been extended to 64-bit (RAX. RBX etc) and
the processors can perform 64-bit operations very efficiently. However, even with
the 8087 numeric coprocessor in 1978, the x86 product could perform 80-bit real
arithmetic and with the Pentium range this was extended through SSE instructions
to 128-bit

So 64-bit processing isn’t so much about 64-bit arithmetic, it is about 64-bit
addressing (Intel 64 – Extended Memory 64-bit Technology). The 32-bit x86
processors could address memory using a so called flat memory space using a 32-bit
address (the classic 4 GByte limit). The 64-bit processor could in theory address
memory using a 64-bit address pointer – this is huge ! and modern x86 64-bit
processors can address a physical address space using a 40-bit pointer (1 Tera Byte
of memory or 1000 GB).

64-bit x86 market

So complex enterprise databases, sophisticated CAD applications, complex financial
models, state of the art multimedia packages etc which require more than 32-bit
addressing, can run on Intel 64 enhanced x86 processors. This requires a OS, BIOS
and chipset which supports 64-bit addressing. Many ordinary PC applications will
gain no benefit from using a 64-bit processor.

32-bit and 64-bit applications can be run using a new 64-bit OS. The 64-bit
applications are new, however the 32-bit applications will run providing 64-bit
device drivers are available – Windows 7 may do this better than Windows Vista

Core i7-9xx – uses Intel Nehalem micro-architecture – new socket (LGA 1366) –
quad-core on a single chip – 2.66 GHz to 3.3 GHz - on-chip memory controller with
three memory channels (DDR3 with up to two memory modules per channel – FSB
replaced by QuickPath – HyperThreading for all cores -large caches L1 code = 64k, L1
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data = 64k, L2 = 256k, L3 = 8 MB shared by all four cores - 781M transistors – SSE4

Atom – x86 – low power - 800 MHz to 1.866 GHz – performance enhancing features
such as instruction reordering, speculative execution, or register renaming are
omitted to reduce transistor count/ provide a low cost chip/ keep the Power
requirements low (.6W to 2 W so no fan required also down to .01 W when idle) –
targeted at Mobile Internet Devices market and Ultra Mobile PC/ Netbook as well as
embedded products – the Atom product has been well received in the Netbook
market but finding new areas in the embedded market is more of a challenge !

Larrabee – as of Q4 2009 not to be released as a mainstream product
a new and unique graphics architecture that is aimed at both the enthusiast 3D
market, as well as stream computing (taking in a single task, breaking it up into
smaller parts for individual cores to process and then reassembling to give the
overall result) – traditionally Intel has offered integrated graphics products which
are easily outperformed by the GPUs from AMD (ATI) and NVIDIA

The idea of Larrabee is simple – use a number of simple x86 cores (plus vector
processing units) to perform all the aspects of 3-D graphics which are normally
performed by a number of dedicated hardware units – there are dedicated texture
units on Larrabee but these are assisted by the x86 cores which are linked on a ring-

So to change the functionality of Larrabee only requires a change in the software

Larrabee may provide a new approach to graphics – each core could be given part of
a screen to process – hopefully leading to an enhanced benchmark in terms of
frames /second

Core i7-8xx, Core i5, Core i3
These processors include:
     the Nehalem micro-architecture
     the new LGA1160 socket
     Intel Turbo Boost Technology
     Hyper-Threading Technology
     At least 2 Cores, 4 Threads
     4 MB Intel SmartCache
     Integrated memory controller supporting two DDR3 channels
     Integrated graphics (iGFX) core
     Discrete graphics support for a single 1x16 PCI Express 2.0 slot
     The Intel Flexible Display Interface (FDI)
The Intel Flexible Display Interface will allow the integrated graphics core in these
processor s to channel its graphics data to the display controller in the Ibex Peak
chipset for output to the monitor.

Core i7-9xx – based on the Nehalem micro-architecture – i7-9xx processors are
aimed at high end market
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      new LGA 1366 socket
      on-chip memory controller: the memory is directly connected to the
       processor with thee channel memory: each channel can support one or two
       DDR3 DIMMs. Motherboards for Core i7 have four (3+1) or six DIMM slots
       instead of two or four, and DIMMs can be installed in sets of three or two.
       DDR3 only but no ECC support
      QuickPath interface to motherboard:
           o 64 KB L1 instruction and 64 KB L1 data cache per core
           o 256 KB L2 cache (combined instruction and data) per core
           o 8 MB L3 (shared by all cores)
      Single-die device: all four cores, the memory controller, and all cache are on a
       single die.
      Turbo Boost technology allows all active cores to intelligently clock
       themselves up in steps of 133 MHz over the design clock rate as long as the
       CPU's predetermined thermal and electrical requirements are still met
      HT - each of the four cores can process up to two threads simultaneously, so
       the processor appears to the OS as eight CPUs
      QuickPath interface
      45 nm technology.
      784 million transistors in the quad core version.
      Sophisticated power management set an unused core in a zero-power mode.
      Support for SSE4

FSB is a parallel bus and could no longer be upgraded – QuickPath is a modern serial
technology from Intel

Overall a high performance

The Atom processor is Intel's smallest processor manufactured using 45nm
technology. The Intel Atom processor has been designed for simple, affordable,
Netbooks and Nettops.
Atom based systems are suitable education, photo and video viewing, social
networking, voice over IP, e-mail, messaging, browsing etc.

In addition the Atom is targeted at embedded applications (with extended lifecycle
support since embedded systems often have a very long lifetime) Market segments
include digital signage, interactive clients (kiosks, point-of-sale terminals), thin
clients, digital security, residential gateways, print imaging,
and commercial and industrial control.

The Atom processor is software compatible with previous x86 software.

Features conventional FSB, SpeedStep technology, TDP (Thermal Design Power)
below 2.5 W, SSE2 and SSE3 instruction support, Execute Disable Bit (to protect
against buffer overflows, L2 cache is dynamically sized to conserve power

Intel supply the drivers for embedded XP but other OSs are supported
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Windows 7 should run satisfactorily on the Atom hardware

Larrabee – a multi-core x86 system – status of this product is somewhat in the air

Using multi-processing graphics hardware is not new, however the Larrabee
architecture is base on the Pentium architecture to simplify the design of each core

The Larrabee chip is targeted at accelerating applications such as the compute and
memory intensive demands of the latest PC games and high-performance computing
applications, such as image processing, physical simulation, and medical and
financial analytics.

Intel initially plans to use Larrabee chips in discrete graphics cards and support both
OpenGL and DirectX (Microsoft)

Larrabee uses multiple in-order x86 CPU cores that are assisted by a wide vector
processor unit, as well as some fixed function logic blocks. This provides dramatically
higher performance per watt than out-of-order CPUs on highly parallel workloads.

A Vector Processing Unit processes a one dimensional array in a single operation –
e.g. averaging 8 pixels in one operation (1,3,5,7,2,4,8,9) – very much related to x86
SSE instructions (single instruction multiple data extensions)

Larrabee is more flexible than current GPUs. Its CPU-like x86-based architecture
supports subroutines etc. Some operations that GPUs traditionally perform with
fixed function logic, such as rasterization and post-shader blending, are performed
entirely in software in Larrabee. Like GPUs, Larrabee uses fixed function logic for
texture filtering – this is the process of adding texture information (colour) to a
primitive graphics object.

PC Product


         Generally these were start up companies which were not very well funded
         The architecture of each product was different so ‘bespoke’ software i.e. OS
          and applications had to developed for each product
         The limited processing power of these systems required software to be
          developed in assembly language which was expensive
         The software developers didn’t know which platform (hardware/ Operating
          System) to target their efforts
         Cash flow was a major problem – in a fast moving technology it was difficult
          to get the cash from suppliers to pay for the development/ manufacture/
          marketing etc
         As a result many companies failed leaving customers with computers with
          minor faults (e.g. requiring a replacement disk drive) but no support
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         In purchasing computer equipment price and performance are important but
          so is the track record of the supplier – no point in having a 5 year guarantee/
          warranty if the supplier is bankrupt

         IBM was a very large organisation dominating the mainframe computing
         It had not embraced the new microprocessor based technologies which were
          regarded as being more relevant to the world of embedded systems
         IBM was however in a period of technical exchange with Intel
         The PC was designed by a small team of about 12 and used off the shelf
          components based on the Intel 8088 processor and peripheral chips (address
          bus buffers/ data bus transceivers/ interrupt controller/ dma controller etc
          plus lots of discrete logic) – the development was rapid because the design
          team didn’t have to get senior management approval at every stage as they
          would with a million dollar server product
         The operating system was provided by Microsoft/ Bill Gates who actually
          purchased it from another developer
         A BASIC interpreter was available in ROM which probably helped BASIC to
          become such a widely used language
         IBM was happy for third party developers to write applications for the PC and
          develop adapter cards (e.g. a network card)

         The PC was successful because many organisations wanted to use
          microcomputers but needed a developer which inspired confidence for a long
          term product life – IBM had sufficient cash to act as underwriter for the PC
         Software developers soon saw that the PC offered a vey large market with a
          single hardware/ software platform
         Hardware developers (e.g. a network card ) could see a large market using
          the simplistic PC bus and supporting software
         The IBM PC was also seen as a status symbol and many PCs were just on a
          manager’s desk
         Adding an 8087 chip (100 pounds) meant that the PC was a powerful number
          cruncher and was much cheaper than a mini computer – 8087 socket was
          unpopulated for simple word processing etc
     Original PC – 8088 plus floppy disks – 8-bit motherboard
     XT – 8088 plus hard disk plus floppy disks– 8-bit motherboard
     AT – 80286 plus hard disk – 16-bit motherboard
     PS/2 (e.g. 80386) – IBM upgrade which failed to make an impact outside
      corporate environment
     ISA architecture PCs – 80386 – ISA bus - graphics and sound cards
     80486/ Pentium + PCI bus – superior graphics – dial-up internet
     Early Multimedia PC – Pentium + PCI + AGP + broadband
     Modern PC – Core processors + PCI + PCI Express (x16, x1 etc)
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Mainstream = 8088 – 80286 – 80386 – 80486 – Pentium to Pentium 4 – Atom to
Core i7

Adapter Buses
PC-bus (8-bit) / AT-bus (16-bit) / PCI bus / AGP bus/ PCI Express (x1 to x16)

    The original PC products had architectural features (IO map for peripherals)
      specified by IBM – many features are still maintained for legacy support
    The Intel and Microsoft managed the PC specification although frequently
      accused of unfairly using their market position (called Wintel)
    Now PC architecture seems to be determined by Microsoft and its Hardware
      Engineering Conferences WinHEC – is this still happening ?

Most of us will get involved in the purchasing of PCs, PC peripherals, software and
related products. By knowing about the history (or track record) of the PC we can
make informed decisions about procuring PC based systems

When specifying, purchasing or deciding when to upgrade PCs it is very useful to be
knowledgeable about previous/ current/ future PC Technology

PC specifications are often vague and it is desirable to be able to ask well informed
questions such as:
 How is the RAM configured - as dual/ triple channel etc
 How much will it cost to upgrade to a quad Core processor and what are the
   performance benefits
 Are you being sold old technology which cannot be upgraded
 Is it worth waiting for the next generation PC

Q5. Anybody who has PC products or any PC based projects that have lifetimes of
more than two years e.g. informed home Users/ System admin who advise
purchasing dept/ specialist users

If you are going to develop a data acquisition unit today and want it to work with the
majority of PCs in the future, then USB2.0 at 480 Mbps makes a good choice, but a
Firewire interface is a poor choice, since all new PCs will have USB2.0 ports and less
will have Firewire – and what about USB3.0 ?? is it too earlier to develop/ purchase a
USB3.0 product

PC Total sales are increasing say 10% per year
 2010 321 million - desktop 126 million mobile 195 million
 2012 403 million - desktop 131 million mobile 272 million
Hence Intel’s interest in getting into the mobile phone market which is growing
much faster
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 Desktops - mainly business customers
 laptops – increasing sales
 netbooks - surprising successful
 MIDs (Mobile Internet Devices) - developing market -currently products are
   under development by Apple and partners of Microsoft - e.g. iSlate/ iPad - future
   depends on consumer response - the netbook has been successful but is there a
   market for a touch screen product without a keyboard and what will the network
   connection be:
    3G mobile phone
    WiFi
    WiMAX – backed by Intel ( but opposed by mobile phone operators ?)
    LTE Long Term Evolution - G4 mobile phone technology – probably long term

Microsoft (market capitalisation Dec 2009 $271 billion)
    Microsoft's role in 2000 was very dominant - there was little competition
    Microsoft's current role is less dominant
    Many companies see that low cost systems can use an open source OS such
      as Linux ubuntu, Linux Moblin, Google Chrome - obviously such systems can't
      execute Microsoft office etc but must use open office
    Another aspect of this is virtual desktops - the technology is simple -
              The OS is a distribution of Linux e. Moblin, Android, Chrome etc
              The GUI/ application is a Virtual Desktop incorporating a browser
              Facilitates easy access to say Google Docs, Social networking etc
              Easy to protect from virus attack ?
              No need for Windows/ Office/

Microsoft’s competition -
    Google (market capitalisation Dec 2009 $196 billion !)
    Apple (market capitalisation Dec 2009 $190 billion !)

   Automated Maintenance

    o It is clear that PC ownership is expensive – most users don’t quantify the cost
      of PC ownership:
            a simple task such as ensuring a PC has the latest security updates can
               be time consuming
            recovering data after a zero-day attack by a hacker can take many
               hours (zero-day implies that the anti-virus companies haven’t issued a
               signature for the virus)
    o Products such as Intel’s vPro can automate isolation, recovery, rollback,
      update, reinstallation of OS and packages etc and provide appropriate
      documentation – this is achieved by dedicated hardware which should be
      more secure than software solutions

   Hardware Assisted Security
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The data on many PCs, especially notebooks, is valuable but very vulnerable to
hacking (e.g. when using a WLAN, theft etc)
Software security such as password protecting a Word document is often very
unsatisfactory – users will often not use such systems because they are inconvenient

What is the alternative ? – hardware based encryption – this uses the TPM Trusted
Platform Module

The TPM is used to generate the cryptographic keys based say on scans of the
system files etc – if a file is changed or replaced then the system won’t boot

Supported by features in high end versions of Windows 7 operating system

Q7       Needs checking !!!

     The original PC was relatively simple and the software was quite basic. However
     over 25 plus years, developers used the PC as a platform for developing every
     kind of package - financial, educational, technical, scientific, media etc

     The PC has been attractive because it is relatively cheap and the same platform
     can be used for all these different activities – the very large market has allowed
     economies of scale in virtually every area

     By the additional of specialist peripherals from graphics cards, sound cards,
     broadband modems, USB peripherals- the PC has been adapted to meet all
     these requirements. It is however very complex.

        Is the PC appropriate for applications which are primarily office tasks ??

The PC is more complex than is needed for typical office processing – Word, Email,
Excel, simple Databases – however staff are familiar with PC hardware and software
so any alternative requires significant retraining and probably staff cannot continue
to work after hours on their home PCs

        Lifecycle issues

The classic five year lifecycle leads to excessive maintenance costs in years 4 and 5 as
the hardware becomes unreliable and the OS and applications need updating – new
software may be sluggish or unreliable on old hardware. A three year cycle is
recommended by Intel and Microsoft – the hardware is well matched to the
software and if bought with a new OS release then the PC can be used without
hardware or software upgrades over its full lifecycle.

Regardless maintaining PCs with different versions of the OS can be extremely
expensive in terms of IT support.

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A simple calculation relating to a PC worker without a functioning PC for 1 day a year
(plus lost cash flow for the company) confirms that PC hardware costs are often a
minor part of the IT budget

      The TCO Total Cost of Ownership is a worrying statistic for large organizations
       – many workers cannot function without their PC say in a call centre. The PC
       as however got a very complex operating system which can perform complex
       tasks well outside the range of simple accesses to a central database. If we
       look at the usage log of a typical PC – the cpu idle time is usually >99%

    The TCO is not just the purchase price of the PC – to keep a PC functional it is
    vital to keep anti virus software updated, the OS patched to latest standards and
    applications updated. If a PC has a projected life of 5 years the cost of support
    will be greater than the capital cost of the hardware.

      vPro Casestudy .. update !!!

2 IT technicians earning £25k plus overheads = £80 /year
Hardware cost of refreshing 120 PCs at £600 each = £72k
PCs refreshed every 5 years so PC cost per year = £15k with spare parts (72/5)

      vPro adds £10 per PC plus a PC acting as a maintenance station – say £2k
      System can now be managed by one technician saving £40k / year
      PCs can be refreshed every three years at a yearly cost of £24k per year

    2 IT Tech option with 5 year PC refresh over 5 years costs £72k + £400k =
    VPro + 1 IT technician with a 3 year refresh over 5 years costs £120k + £200k =

8. The PC as a general purpose computing platform has become increasingly complex –
as a result it is vulnerable to viruses and other malware – as a result it is necessary to
implement daily updating and subsequent patching – network based utilities such as
internet explorer become easy targets for malicious activities such as downloading
Trojan horses - for the average office task it is over specified -

The thin client solution is frequently re-invented – basically a very simple graphics
workstation connects to a powerful 64-bit server which hosts all the applications and
stores (and backs-up) all the data – the user can access their data from anywhere
and groups of individuals can access common data – virus detection at the client is
very easy to implement since the only application is the graphical interface and
network interface

This concept has been further developed in what is called by the buzzword Cloud
Computing – companies such as Amazon have significant hardware and software
investment in internet based computing – they are able to sell spare capacity as a
Simple Storage System S3 – they use the term elastic computing – users can adjust

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their requirements on a very flexible basis – pay for what they need – backup etc is
managed by the service provider

The next stage is to sell virtual server capacity – part of a powerful server facility can
be remotely accessed as say a Windows Server 2008 configuration – again the facility
is very scaleable

IBM, Microsoft see this a big business opportunity for exposing their file server/ web
server/ database server/ management system packages to users – since users don’t
have to purchase any server hardware this is attractive for trying new products etc

A limitation of such products is that an outage at the computing centre will be critical
and affect many users

Such products are targeted at companies with limited IT support

9. Historically users insist on PCs for office type tasks – this is what users understand
    and Office applications are more or less stable, so the cost of retraining is small.

Windows Vista was designed :
    To be secure with most activities occurring at user rather than admin
     privilege – this can be annoying when installing software package,s since
     users are required to enter passwords many times
    With a smart User Interface (Aero)
    To allow 64-bit upgrading of OS and applications to take advantage of 64-bit
     processors (Intel 64 etc) allowing RAM greater than 4 GByte

Although many users are happy with Vista there has been criticism at corporate level
     Many organisations have limited IT support
     Old PC hardware couldn’t execute Vista so organisations would have to
       support two OS (XP and Vista)
     Many of the drivers were immature especially the 64-bit drivers
     There were no applications requiring more than 4 GBytes of RAM

Hence organisations (such as MMU) with a mix of PCs (some 5 years old) stayed with
XP – a safe option and requiring no new IT skills – note: some PC suppliers even offer
a Windows Viva downgrade to XP

Windows 7 is probably better regarded as a minor update even though Microsoft
declare it to be a major OS release – the Vista drivers are now hopefully stable so
device driver problems are history and the same drivers can be used for Windows 7.

Windows 7 is designed to operate on any modern PC hardware from Core i7 to the
Atom so it is less demanding on specific hardware than Vista
Windows 7 will be available in 32-bit and 64-bit versions – it should be stable with
existing 32-bit applications, 32-bit applications designed for Windows 7 as well as
new 64-bit applications which can take advantage of the 64-bit architecture e.g. > 4
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