619: Supported Features

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Supported Features
I hear many of you finally have smooth Flash support, but me and my Intel card are still waiting on a kernel patch somewhere in the pipeline before we can watch Jon Stewart smoothly.
Title text: I hear many of you finally have smooth Flash support, but me and my Intel card are still waiting on a kernel patch somewhere in the pipeline before we can watch Jon Stewart smoothly.

[edit] Explanation

This comic is a reference to Linux builds adding support and features that will not appeal to the majority of computer and Linux users. Cueball has created a patch that allows support for processors with 4,096 cores, even though most computers have only 8 cores or fewer. He considers this to be more worthwhile an endeavor than full-featured Flash support, which is much more commonly used. Flash movies are known for their bad performance and high consumption on CPU power compared with other movie formats. Cueball's friend is uninterested in the 4,096-core-processor fix, and only wants to know if it will help him with Flash video.

However, as of 2013, there are commercial computer systems that can be actually configured up to 2,048 cores (4,096 threads), e.g. SGI UV 2000. Linux powers 95% of the world's supercomputers, so while Flash video on desktop Linux would directly affect more people, the high performance computing industry relies on and actually funds Linux development. It should be noted that GNU/Linux now supports flash via Gnash. The first stable release was February 15, 2012; over two years after this comic was written.

The title text mentions the "American political satirist, writer, director, television host, actor, media critic, and stand-up comedian" Jon Stewart which further refers to his famous American late night satirical television program The Daily Show. The show is also available on the internet (www.thedailyshow.com), presenting the shows on Flash videos.

[edit] Transcript

Cueball: It took a lot of work, but this latest linux patch enables support for machines with 4,096 CPUs, up from the old limit of 1,024.
Friend: Do you have support for smooth full-screen Flash video yet?
Cueball: No, but who uses that?
[Friend is holding a laptop.]
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Discussion

Note that the major reason why is easier for Linux to supports 4096 CPUs than smooth flash playback is that flash is proprietary format and without cooperation from Adobe very little can be done with it. For example, most of Adobe products, flash player included (since version 11), are now compiled with SSE2 support in a way which makes them not work at all on CPUs which don't have such capability. Noone except Adobe can do anything with it, and Adobe apparently don't consider it problem. -- Hkmaly (talk) 00:05, 27 September 2013 (UTC)


Who is this we that he refers to in the title-text. Is it him and his Intel card, him and his fiance, is he royalty, or does he simply have a tapeworm with good taste in political comedy? 66.249.85.193 21:50, 23 October 2013 (UTC)

http://asset.soup.io/asset/0453/8747_0991_800.png (Changelog for xorg; "Fixes XKCD #619") Sudofox (I haven't made an account. 108.162.216.31 19:13, 29 December 2013 (UTC)

The commit that added 4096 CPUs support was 1184dc2 by Mike Travis from SGI (which sells systems with that many CPUs); see also this presentation by him. However, that commit was soon reverted in d25e26b because it caused too many problems (big CPU mask → some huge stack frames), with a comment that “Some day we'll have allocation helpers that allocate large CPU masks dynamically, but in the meantime we simply cannot allow cpumasks this large.”

Today, up to 8192 CPUs are supported, so presumably they do have these helpers now :) --108.162.230.95 09:03, 28 September 2014 (UTC)
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