Big Battery Advances Coming with Solid State

Safe to say audiophiles of today aren’t cut from the same cloth as those that came well before them, and it’s also true that there’s less of a focus on good and pure sound today than there was even a couple of decades ago. It is whf4at it is, and in fairness all of this has nothing to do with new technological advances related to the devices we love to use or need to use. Where we’re going with this is Solid State receivers – the ones with the tubes inside that would give off a light orange glow when lit with power – delivered clear, crisp, and authoritative sound in a way that lesser receivers couldn’t even come close to.

Solid State amplifiers have long been the preferred choice for professional musicians too for the exact same reason. They just sound a whole lot better, and it seems that all the power goodness that comes with Solid State electrical engineering is about to flip reality on its head once again with batteries for digital devices. Mass produced solid-state batteries are going to change everything, and we’re all going to be thrilled with it.

Any quality Canadian web hosting provider is going to be able to appreciate what it is to need big power, and look no further than the fact that most of the others will be just like us at 4GoodHosting in that we know what goes into powering massive data centres and the like. That’s macro scale stuff for sure, but there is plenty we already know about these solid-state batteries that are just around the corner and it is really promising stuff for sure.

Meeting CPU Needs

There is no getting around the fact that even the most power frugal processor is going to put serious demands on battery power. From phones to cars to cameras and beyond, battery power is usually going to be an issue and more of than not because there’s just not enough of it in 1 full charge. Lithium-ion batteries aren’t as safe as they need to be and producing them is nasty for the environment with all the rare earth minerals that have to be mined for them.

If we’re able to replace lithium-ion batteries and retire the technology, it really can’t happen soon enough. So here we are with big news about solid state batteries, starting with their utilization in electric vehicles. The solid-state battery industry for EVs is estimated to be worth $4.3 billion US by the end of 2027. Improving on the battery technology for these types of vehicles is important because we need to move past the internal combustion engine as soon as possible, for obvious reasons.

QuantumScape is a company who have apparently solved the issue of dendrite formation – when the battery is under load from fast charging. If you didn’t know there was a drawback to fast charging, now you do. Eliminating dendrite formation is a part of what will allow solid-state batteries to charge to 80% capacity within 15 minutes without degrading the structural integrity of the battery each time it’s charged.

Yes, this is why your iPhone battery gets progressively worse the longer you own the device. And yes, Apple’s been perfectly fine with that as part of the bigger picture of sneaky planned obsolescence which has had people buying new phones earlier than they’d like too for decades now. At least they are now making repair parts available. It’s a start.

Why Solid State is Better

Let’s get right to it – solid state batteries do not contain a volatile liquid component so their power density if much higher, it is also much, much safer. Plus, a solid-state battery will not catch fire like a Li-ion one might. That’s a huge plus in itself.

This increased energy density also means that the size of the batteries can be considerably smaller. The overcoming of dendrite formation makes solid state batteries capable of being charged many more times than a traditional Li-ion battery without any degradation. As we also touched on there’s not nearly the same environmental footprint to producing them too.

Specifically for smart devices:

  • Increased battery life and charge cycles
  • Devices will run much cooler
  • WAY fast charging without compromising the integrity of the battery

It may not be until around 2025 when we start to see this technology incorporated on a large scale with consumer devices, but it is coming and it’s going to be a fortunate turn of events.

AI Is Becoming Speedier

Artificial Intelligence has been a work long in progress, but in recent years we are definitely starting to see it begin to make more of a mark. The capacities of it were never in question, but the speed with which those capacities could be undertaken were sometimes. Not that performance speeds are always necessary with AI-related tasks, but sometimes their speediness is definitely of the essence. For example AI is earmarked for an extensive role in healthcare in the future and that’s one area where both accuracy and quick results are definitely going to be required.

Recent AI performance testing results came out over a little more than a month back, and what they’ve shown is that AI is getting faster, and that’s something that is great news for the increasingly digital modern world. The future of it is something that is of great interest to us here at 4GoodHosting, and in the same way it would be for any Canadian web hosting provider who enjoys having an eye on the future and what it will entail for IT and all that grows along with it.

This measuring of general AI performance follows the first official set of benchmarks much earlier and lays out 350 measurements of energy efficiency. Most systems measured improved by between 5-30% from previous testing, and some were more than 2x better than their previous performance stats.

So what is the significance of this, and what will it mean in relation to development? That’s what we’ll look at here this week.

6-Way Performance Testing

This testing involved systems made up of combinations of CPUs and GPUs or other accelerator chips being tested on six different neural networks and performing an array of common functions—image classification, speech recognition, object detection, 3D medical imaging, processing of natural language, and ability to make logical recommendation. Computers meant to work onsite instead of in the data center had their measurements made in the offline state to recreate their receiving a single stream of data to measure against least ideal pathway instances.

When it comes to AI accelerator chips used in the tested machines, most notable were software improvements to them that were promoting an up to 50% improvement in performance. Typically this was for 1 or 2 CPUs plus as many as 8 accelerators. Of all the ones tested, the Nvidia A100 accelerator chips tested best and showed the most potential.

Multi-Instance GPUs Show Huge Promise

Nvidia has also created a splash with a new software technique called multi-instance GPU (MiG), which allows a single GPU to assume the roles of seven separate chips from the point of view of software. Tests that had all six benchmarks running simultaneously plus an extra instance of object detection came back with solid results that were 95% of the single-instance value.

It should be noted here thought that supercomputer testing doesn’t usually lend itself to conventional result categorizing, and the only part of them that really does is efficiency testing. Testing that is based on inferences per second per watt for the offline component. There is much that was revealed regarding the tests based on this metric, but what’s probably more valuable here is to make light of the new industry benchmark for this performance, which is the new TCPx-AI benchmark and based on:

  • Ability to generate and process large volumes of data
  • Training pre-processed data to produce realistic machine learning models
  • Accuracy with conducting insights for real-world scenarios based on generated models
  • Scalability for large, distributed configurations
  • Level of flexibility for configuration changes to meet changing AI landscape demands

Accurate Data, On the Fly

The new TPCx-AI puts the priority on real, genuine, and accurate data that can be reliably generated on the fly. It seems very likely that this new benchmark will be quickly adopted as the gauge by which AI processing speeds and the data produced are evaluated. Having this data generated upon request and with some speediness in getting that data is going to be huge pretty much right across the board.

Deep learning neural networks and GPU hardware are going to play a big role in all of this too, and natural language processing is going to be a must too if AI is going to be convertible in the way it needs to be serve people in other parts of the world too. There’s reason for optimism these days here too, as an exponentially increasing number of highly accurate captions have been written purely by AI. They’re generated in milliseconds and delivered directly to customers without domain involvement.

All of this has dramatically increased the speed, quality, and scalability of alert captions – the exact type of data language that is most important much of the time when it comes to applications for artificial intelligence in improving the quality of life for people in the future.

Improving on Windows 11 Threat Protection

There’s always been two tribes when it comes to computing device preferences, and you’re either a Mac or a PC. Those who prefer Macs will usually have a long list of reasons why they prefer to them, and some will point out their perception of more solidity when it comes to defending against web-based threats. They’re ones you are not going to be able to steer clear of if you’re accessing the web, and that’s why robust virus threat protection and other types of protection are super important no matter when type of device you’re using.

Whether Macs are more secure than PCs certainly hasn’t been proven definitively, and people who prefer PCs will have their own long list of reasons as to why they prefer them. Neither type is completely impervious to threats of these sorts, but recently a lot has been made about the shortcomings of Windows 11 when it comes to device security. Here at 4GoodHosting we are definitely attuned to how this is a top priority for a lot of people, and like any other Canadian web hosting provider we can relate to how it’s not something your brush aside if operating your business means collecting and retaining sensitive data.

Which leads us to the good news we’re choosing to dedicate this week’s entry to – there are ways that users can improve threat protection for Windows 11 devices and they are not overly challenging, even for people who aren’t the most tech savvy.

Minimal Protection Built In

Windows 11 is an upgrade on its predecessor when it comes to devices security, and particularly with TPM and Secure Boot plus the guarantee of future security updates that come with them. The problems is that TPM and Secure boot only protect against two types of threats, and the effectiveness of it is entirely related to hardware configuration. If detection can’t be done based on the signature of the BIOS drivers and their relation to the OS then you’re out of luck when it comes to threat detections.

So here are the threats, and what you can do to improve security on a Windows 11 device to defend against each of them more effectively:

  1. Social Engineering

Actions taken on your PC determine your level of risk. Clicking on links, downloading files, installing programs or plugging in external USB drives without using caution and judgment isn’t wise. Doing so can create the problems that security hardware and software try to shield you from. And just because you received it from a trusted source doesn’t mean the link, program, or drive itself is to be trusted.

The same can be said for making personal information available, like your birth date, location, phone number, social security number, and so on. This is because it can be used to gain unauthorized access. And many times when something does occur the biggest part of the headaches is in how that access is to your linked Microsoft account and other services. You should also be sure to not store certain kinds of sensitive information in a non-encrypted file (e.g., Word doc) or share it via non-encrypted forms of communication – email or text message.

  1. Viruses and malware

Malware can be a major source of problems for devices run on Windows 11, and the truth here is that the best defense against those threats is to be careful with your daily routine. But you will still need quality antivirus software for Windows 11, and Windows Security is functional enough as Microsoft’s packaged solution coming with the operating system. For basic internet security it’s fine, but for anyone who’s usage needs or inclinations have them more exposed to threats it is just not sufficient enough.

Choosing to install 3rd-party software is an option, but you may not need to assume that expense. Some people choose to augment Windows Security with a more malware-specific program that provides a little more protection. Don’t go overboard with layering them though, as they can end up conflicting with each other and being less effective as a result.

  1. Open Incoming Ports

With Windows 11 the user will need to keep access to incoming ports blocked in order to prevent being exploited through them. But going with no firewall on your PC is the same as leaving a house with all of its doors not only unlocked, but actually wide open. When incoming ports are left completely exposed anyone on the internet can then attempt to exploit services on your computer available through those ports. When that happens successfully, you’re going too have problems.

The firewall will close them up and many home routers have a built-in hardware firewall. However, you can’t fully rely on them and individual device protection is needed to go along with network-oriented protection. Windows 11 provides sufficient built-in firewall protection, but you need to make sure it is turned on in the Windows Security app.

  1. Data Leaks

It is actually impossible to entirely stop data from being leaked onto the web, and the reality is breaches and leaks are an unavoidable part of life. Windows 11 may have an acceptable level of security, but if the password you have for your linked Microsoft account is the same one used for other services then the basic protections that come with the OS aren’t going to save you from unauthorized account access.

Piece of advice #1 here is not to reuse passwords. And when creating them you should come up with a strong, random, and unique password for every service and website used, plus immediately changing your password for any location where there’s been a breach or leak. Password managers are a good choice – they can keep track of all of those random character strings in a way that’s safe and you don’t need to remember them individually.

Two-factor authentication is also good for beefing up defenses against data leaks. It may be the second step to the login process is what ends up thwarting attempts to access your account. The most secure method is a hardware dongle, but most of you will determine using a mobile app that generates a code provides an ideal balance between security and convenience.

  1. Spying on your Internet Traffic

Every network will have the data being requested and sent to individual devices on display if the individual knows where to look (packet sniffing). When a network is more open it is easier for this to happen. Public Wi-Fi networks are the worst for this risk, and particularly when data in not encrypted. In that scenario the exact information you’re transmitting may be visible too and that can be a big problem obviously.

If data being transmitted is sensitive, then a VPN is the best choice. It will create a secure tunnel that your traffic is funneled through. Use a VPN on your devices when on public Wi-Fi networks and you’ll be MUCH better protected.

Continuing Merits of Tape Storage for Petabyte Data

Obsolescence is real, and it’s an unavoidable reality for nearly all type of technology eventually. Even what is especially practical today will likely one day become useless, and as it has often been said ‘you can’t stop progress.’ When it comes to the digital world and the ever-greater demands we have for data storage, the way the Cloud has started physical storage down the road to obsolescence is definitely a good thing, and especially considering that physical data storage comes with a whole whack of costs that go profoundly beyond what it costs to lease the space.

The migration from tape storage to cloud has been underway for the better part of 2 decades now, and here at 4GoodHosting we are like any good Canadian web hosting provider in that we know all about the pros and cons of data storage means given the nature of what we do for our customers and the fact that we have 2 major data centers of our own in both Vancouver and Toronto. Cloud storage is the way of the future, and all things considered it 100% is a better choice for data storage.

The merits of tape storage for certain types of data continue to exist, however, and in particular it has a lot going for it when it comes to storing petabyte data. If you don’t know what that is, we can explain. You almost certainly know what a gigabyte is, and how there’s 1000 of them in a terabyte. Well, a petabyte is 1,024 terabytes. So needless to say we’re talking about a very large amount of data, but what is that makes tape storage preferable in some instances with this data? Is it just the sheer size of it that is the primary factor?

This is what we’ll look at with the week’s entry, and why the use of tape storage resists going entirely extinct.

Slow to Dwindle

Here in late 2021 only 4% still use tape as their only backup method, and all the while the use of cloud and online backups has gone up to 51%. It is estimated that 15% use a combination of disk and tape. It’s easy to list out what is inferior about tape storage; it is difficult and slow to eliminate completely due to the years of historic backups needing to be kept. Smaller businesses are the ones that can often get away from it freely and switch to a new method without much hassle.

For larger firms, however, and those with compliance requirements it is still quite common to need to retain tape storage. Many times this can be because of regulations pertaining to the operation of the business. Some companies don’t like what transferring costs and manpower required to manage two backup methods while older retentions expire is going to entail, and this has them sticking with tape storage too.

Cost considerations are definitely a big drawback to making a wholesale switch, and that’s because tapes can be very expensive. Let’s consider when cloud backup services were introduced how the high cost of disk storage and bandwidth made the service prohibitively expensive. With greater incorporation has come lower costs and that in turn has made cloud storage even more appealing.

Demand = Supply = Lower Costs


Another reason is that tapes are incredibly inexpensive. When cloud backup services were introduced, the high cost of disk storage and bandwidth made the service too expensive for most. As storage and bandwidth costs have plummeted, online or cloud backup has become increasingly accessible. Tape storage becoming more and more archaic and less and less in use means the cost of it hasn’t gone down at all.

Even if tape is still less expensive (and it is), the benefits of automation, control and reliability make cloud backups less pricey in the long run along with offering obvious peace of mind with knowing data isn’t stored in a physical data center that will have risk factors the cloud doesn’t. Smaller organizations that still have extensive data storage needs for multiple petabytes of data will find that the cost different difference between tape and the Cloud becomes quite significant.

Physical Air Gap

Another plus for tape backups is that they offer the benefit of being physically separate and offline from the systems being protected. In many ways this is kind of like reverting to an older, offline technology to thwart anyone with malicious plans who isn’t familiar with that technology. There are methods to logically ‘air-gap’ and separate cloud backups from your production environment, but they don’t have that reassuring nature that some people like when they’re able to have a tangible version of something.

All in all, though, the idea of relying on a degradable magnetic storage medium isn’t wise for most people and the primary reason they will want to upgrade to a more modern solutions is for automation and reliability. Keep in mind as well that tape backups are a very manual process. They need to be loaded, collected, and transported to off-site storage location for data storage.

Slow but Sure Shift

The industry consensus is that tapes will not stop being used any time soon. Tape storage is expected to continue to be the lowest cost storage option for the foreseeable future, and it is true that tape sales to hyperscale data libraries does continue with the same numbers as have been seen over the last decade and beyond.

With more data moving to the cloud all the time, cloud providers are going to need to offer even more competitive low-cost storage. The lowest cost archive tiers of storage offered by all the major cloud providers use some amount of tape storage, even if you’d guess they don’t. For data storage in the petabytes, there’s still a lot to be said for it.