RTX 4090: 4K Overkill

The very best high-end PC hardware is often terrible value when comparing price to performance. I like to carefully read reviews and benchmarks before choosing something one or two steps down from the top, where a cheaper option can still provide sufficient performance for my needs. My current CPU Ryzen 7 5800X has 8 cores and 16 threads – more than enough for gaming and programming – while the best available at the time was 16 cores and 32 threads in the 5950X. My last GPU Radeon RX 6800 satisfied my requirement of being faster than the Playstation 5 (I just like to stay ahead of the consoles), and I didn’t have a 4K display yet so there was no need for the faster RX 6900 XTX or RTX 3080 Ti. This motherboard is B550 not X570, the RAM is only 3600 MHz, and the PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD is just barely faster than PCIe 3.0 models. All of these were considered ‘good value’ at the time, and together they make a very adequate gaming PC.

But this time…

I want the best.

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Radeon RX 6800: Ray Tracing Review

One night in November 2020 I stayed up late refreshing browser windows on three online stores to buy a Sapphire AMD Radeon RX 6800 16GB at the height of the cryptocurrency mining boom. It was the best value GPU for crypto mining at the time, and I was lucky to get one before the first batch sold out in two minutes. But I’m a gamer, not a miner. I just wanted to try AMD’s first GPU with support for DXR Ray Tracing.

A month earlier Nvidia had launched their GeForce RTX 3070 with second-generation ray tracing hardware. But the RTX 3070 only had 8GB VRAM, the same amount as a GeForce GTX 1070 or Radeon RX 480 from the year 2016. RX 6800 had 16GB and a larger cache too, so I chose that because I believed that 8GB would not be enough for future games.

The initial experience with ray tracing on RX 6800 was rough. Quake II RTX, Battlefield V, and Cyberpunk 2077 only allowed ray tracing on Nvidia GPUs. Control and Metro Exodus ran too slowly to justify the visual enhancement provided by ray tracing. Without a DLSS alternative to upscale from a lower resolution (AMD had not yet released FSR) it was just a novelty to try out for a while and then turn off.

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TrueNAS Scale with WiFi

Files that only exist on a single storage device might as well be considered temporary. The data will be lost when the storage device eventually fails, or when the computer is damaged, lost, or stolen. Ransomware or other malicious attacks can delete files or lock you out of accessing them until you pay a ransom fee. Silent data corruption (bit rot) can make important files partially or entirely unreadable and you won’t find out until you try to view the file later.

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Build a game console with Ryzen 5600G

In 2012 Valve released “Big Picture Mode” for their Steam game distribution platform. This new user interface mode was intended for use on home TVs with a wireless game controller, essentially bringing a console-style living room gaming experience to PC.

In 2015 Valve collaborated with PC manufacturers to launch a range of home game consoles running their “SteamOS” Linux operating system. This “Steam Machine” initiative was a failure due to the low number of Steam games with native Linux support at the time.

In 2018 Valve added “Proton” to Steam to enable running Windows games on Linux without native support. Then in 2022 Valve launched their own “Steam Deck” handheld gaming PC with a new version of SteamOS and improved Proton, this time finding commercial success with a vastly improved library of games supported.

I tried SteamOS and Proton in 2019 with poor results. Many of the Windows games I tested either didn’t run, or had obvious graphical issues, or ran significantly slower than on Windows.

This is my experiment to answer the questions: Has Linux gaming with Steam improved in 2022? Is the integrated GPU in AMD’s Ryzen 5600G powerful enough to be a game console? Is 8GB RAM sufficient? Is it possible to set this up without typing strange commands into the Linux terminal?

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Cyberpunk 2077 on Surface Go 2: RTX Online

Cyberpunk is a subgenre of science fiction in a dystopian futuristic setting that tends to focus on a combination of low-life and high tech. Notable examples include novels Neuromancer (1984) and Snow Crash (1992), movies Blade Runner (1982), Ghost in the Shell (1995), The Matrix (1999), and the computer game Deus Ex (2000).

The tabletop role playing game Cyberpunk was written by Mike Pondsmith and published by R. Talsorian Games in 1988, followed by the sequels Cyberpunk 2020 in 1990, Cyberpunk V3.0 in 2005, and Cyberpunk Red in 2020.

The computer game Cyberpunk 2077, based on the tabletop game, was announced in May 2012 by developer and publisher CD Projekt Red. Trailers for the game were released in January 2013, at E3 2018, and at E3 2019 where an initial release date of 16 April 2020 was announced. The game was delayed to 17 September, then 19 November, and finally 10 December.

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The War on Privacy

Last week the Australian Government passed the Telecommunications and Other Legislation Amendment (Assistance and Access) Bill 2018, which allows certain government agencies to issue secret notices compelling Australian IT workers and software developers to insert secret malicious code into any software or computer systems, for the purpose of gaining access to the content of encrypted messages on the computers and smartphones of their users. This law is in effect right now. The next time you download an update for the banking app on your smartphone, or operating system updates for Windows and MacOS, or a firmware update for your modem/router, or a game update on your Playstation, your device might also be implanted with a secret backdoor enabling remote access and monitoring. I could be forced to add malicious code to this blog and it would be illegal for me to refuse, or to warn you about it. You can no longer trust any computer hardware or software that is created, configured, or sold by someone living under the legal jurisdiction of Australia. This is kind of a big deal.

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Accelerated R with CUDA on Linux

The R programming language uses Basic Linear Algebra Subprograms (BLAS) for performing common linear algebra operations such as vector addition, scalar multiplication, dot products, linear combinations, and matrix multiplication. R includes Netlib BLAS by default. Significant performance gains can be achieved by replacing that with a different BLAS library such as OpenBLAS or ATLAS.

Further gains are possible by intercepting certain calls to BLAS with NVIDIA’s NVBLAS. Operations that can benefit from running on a GPU will be automatically redirected to cuBLAS without any modification to your R code.

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