Home computer use, technology: what is SoC?

The tutor shares a discovery he made while researching Windows 10.

In my June 26 post I began about the possibility of upgrading to Windows 10 from Windows 7. I’ve heard the deadline to do so for free is July 29; with Microsoft encouraging the switch, I continue to research it.

Lately I went to check the system requirements (you can see them here.) The Windows 7 computers I use easily passed; however, what piqued my curiosity was the phrase “or SoC.” I decided to look it up.

Apparently, SoC, in this context, means “system on chip.” Put simply, it means that not only the CPU, but all the other inner devices of the computer sit on the same “chip” (“wafer” might be easier to imagine).

SoC is different from the traditional way computers were designed. Before SoC, the CPU sat on its own chip; wires connected it to the graphics unit, USB controllers, a power management module, internet receivers, etc. The CPU constantly communicated with the other devices to “run” the computer as the user demanded.

In desktop computers, the traditional setup makes sense. Inside the box, there is lots of room. From the wall plug-in, there is lots of power available.

Compared with desktop computers, however, modern smart phones need miniaturization – and minimal power usage. SoC is today’s solution. It puts the CPU, the graphics unit, USB controllers, internet receivers, power management module, etc, on the same “chip”, so there’s no “space between”. At the same time, power usage is reduced, partly because the wiring between the internal devices is much less.

I looked up the ten best tablets of 2016 and found a list here. Then I looked up the CPU for each one; I believe they are all SoC.

I’ll be discussing more about computing devices from a home user’s perspective:)





Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.

Windows: my adventure backing up Windows Live Mail messages

The tutor relates some highlights that transpired as he recently backed up the email.

I’m no expert on Windows, but I have to maintain it in our home.  Of course, that means making back-ups of important records – including email messages.

Well, I read how to back up Windows Live Mail messages from the people at microsoft. I confess that the procedure didn’t work for me when trying to send the messages to a flash drive; however, I was able to export them to a folder on the desktop. Yet, the point of backing up files means you wouldn’t likely store the backup on the same computer whence the files originate. I guess you might do so if the computer has two hard drives; mine doesn’t.

So then I wondered: could I just copy the exported emails from their folder on the desktop to a USB drive?

The idea seemed to make sense – except that the folder holds 1.6 GB of data, and the transfer speed was reporting to be (no lie) under 10 kilobytes/second. At that rate, the copy to the flash drive would take more than 44 hours. What was I doing wrong?

I’d read somewhere, I think on a Microsoft message board, that data transfer between different file systems can be slow. Of course, my Windows 7 hard drive uses NTFS format; what about my USB drives? I checked them all: FAT32, every single one.

Then I wondered – could I reformat one of the flash drives to NTFS? howtogeek.com said it could be done. I moved some files off a USB drive that was nearly empty, then reformatted it to NTFS. Really, it couldn’t have been easier. (One should NEVER reformat a drive without very careful thought. All the current files on the drive must be saved elsewhere before the reformat to avoid losing them.)

With the USB drive freshly converted to NTFS, I once again tried exporting the email messages to it from Windows Live Mail. This time it worked; the transfer rate was just over 1MB/s. The transfer took around 25 minutes.

At the end, I checked the folder on the flash drive to which I’d (hopefully) exported the backed up email messages. There it was: all 1.6GB!

That’s how I exported email messages from Windows Live Mail to a flash drive. I don’t really know if it worked unless/until I try to import them. But of course, that’s sometimes the case with backups, isn’t it? Furthermore, one hopes to never have to find out:)

Jack of Oracle Tutoring by Jack and Diane, Campbell River, BC.