Geek speak

Intel vs. ARM in 2012

Since the beginning of the Technology Age, the introduction of portable devices as well as more advanced machines for solid working into the consumer market has seen a massive jump in the need for high-performance processors.

The market for processors for Internet connected mobile devices is evolving into a battle between the ARM and x86 architectures, with both architectures having advantages and disadvantages for particular applications. Both camps have been targeting the other markets; both are well entrenched.

The battleground is set in an era where historical mega trends of mobility and the Internet have morphed into the mobile Internet and Internet ubiquity. The integration of Internet access into mobile devices reaches well beyond simple email applications and web browsing. Mobile devices now must provide interactive communication through social networking and access to live, on-demand, and user generated entertainment. As a result, the mobile processors that power these devices must handle media processing, computing functionality, and an increasing number of wireless connectivity options into a usable form factor with all-day battery life. (CDRinfo The Hardware Authority, 2009)

Intel has long since been the leader in designing and manufacturing processors for business level machines where there is a high level of computing power required. The entire structure of its processors has been the core reason for its success as it has shown compatibility across the board even when it comes to different Operating Systems.

Over the past 25 years, Intel has risen to become the leading supplier of microprocessors for home and business computing, commanding a virtual monopoly in the market for desktop, laptop and server CPUs. (InfoWorld, 2009)

Intel has attempted a few times at mobile chip processing – Google TV was the last effort they had. It underperformed. They did launch the Medfield chip for Smartphone’s last year and it seems to have promise, as they have honestly put it all on one chip where previous designs didn’t.

 

Intel’s biggest success was the design and creation of the x86 architecture which surpassed all expectations.

 

Android is Intel’s main hope at gaining teeth in the market. The iOS and Windows Phone 7 are not going to want to go x86 until x86 trounces ARM as an option. The reason for this is, Android was designed from the get-go to be capable of being compatible with multiple forms of hardware. That is why it runs most applications in Java. It uses the JIT compiler to run Java applications as if they were native. So, in the case of Intel, they essentially just had to optimize the Java compiler for x86, and lo and behold, it ran 95% or more Android applications right off the jump. The iOS and Windows Phone 7 do not have this luxury, because both of those systems are built to specific hardware and have been optimized specifically for ARM, and both of their respective applications are developed with the intention of being on ARM chips. Android has a few applications that don’t run in Java, particularly games, but for the most part, Java is Android’s backbone, and will run fine on x86. Basically, if iOS and WP7 went all out on x86, they would tussle over developers and their application stores. Android essentially is the only major Operating System that can legitimately support both options.

 

Intel essentially has this Medfield chip, and it seems to perform as well as ARM chips clock speed to clock speed, if not faster. But that isn’t taking into account that ARM chips this year will be substantially improved. Overall, Intel won’t win over the mobile market with this generation. They will, at best, get their feet wet, where ARM won’t lose a whole lot this year. This year’s ARM chips are less power hungry, but also have LTE radios integrated on the chip, so will see HUGE power savings overall, of which Intel currently has no answer for.

 

So where will Intel benefit? Intel’s advantage is that they have a lot of capital, a ridiculously large amount at that. And their transistor technology trounces ARM. They are generally 3-4 years ahead of the competition. You will see that in Intel’s second generation chipsets, in which they will likely put out an offering that is both faster as well as more power efficient than comparable ARM chipsets. Where ARM this year will just be getting 28nanometer chipsets, Intel already has 22nanometer in their desktops (32nanometer in the mobile chipset for now). By next year, Intel will be down to 14nanometer. That sounds like small change, but you’re talking half, maybe a fourth of the power consumption at the same clock speed. So basically, x86 is the overall faster architecture, but more power hungry. BUT, their transistor technology will essentially let them muscle their way into having a fast, efficient chipset. I would expect those in 2013, which will be when it’s all out war for chipsets. 2012 is basically just the starting point.

 

However, people are quickly assuming that ARM Holdings is about to become the next Advanced Micro Devices (AMD), and like AMD they will simply fall off because they’re outmuscled by the moneybags, and I simply do not think that it is the case. Advanced Micro Devices is and was in a very unique position. x86 is effectively Intel’s brainchild, but because of old (like 1980s old) licensing agreements, AMD continues to make x86 chips. Advanced Micro Devices actually pioneered the 64 bit instruction set, which is currently why they are able to leverage maintaining such a license. AMD got the license to begin with because International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) required more than one supplier of x86 chipsets. So basically, Intel simply utilized AMD’s 64 bit instruction set, and mimicked the AMD design, and bested them with transistor technology that they simply could not compete with.

 

ARM Holdings is unique. They have generally the superior architecture in terms of power efficiency. The x86 architecture is a bit faster, but really ARM Holdings probably offers the best overall performance for the price (power). But in addition to this, ARM is also being helped by IBM, who supports the ARM architecture. So, the gap for who gets to compact, more efficient processors is getting a little bit smaller, as IBM’s research has very deep pockets as well. They are still a bit slower to technology than Intel, but nothing like what AMD suffers from.

 

Then we get down to the business models of both companies. Intel has, and will always continue to be a company that is closed off and controls their own designs greatly. They guard the instruction set quite well and including its proprietary. Intel does not license the x86 instruction set. You have to get it from Intel, or one of the old grandfathered in licensees like ARM or VIA Technologies.

 

ARM, however, licenses (for a fee of course) to anyone that would want to build a processor. This is why you see companies like Qualcomm, Nvidia, Samsung, and many others making ARM compatible chipsets. It allows for a lower cost to the hardware manufacturer (much cheaper to license the instruction set than to build one of your own) so you can hit lower targets in terms of overall cost. The other benefit is that it allows for variants, and hardware manufacturers can develop customized solutions for hardware. For example, putting more components on a System chip design, like Long Term Evolution (LTE) radios, the new 3-D transistors. It lets them cut costs and increase efficiency drastically. ARM chips are everywhere that you wouldn’t think, and have tons of custom solutions.

 

To further elaborate on the previous statement, the ARM ecosystem has unique and almost unrepeatable strengths – its universality and amount of partners: Qualcomm, Samsung, Texas Instruments, Nvidia – and that’s just the key ones that Microsoft has on board. There are stacks more. Even Apple is invested in this platform. Apple is a unique case as it now has its own chip design firm – it bought PA Semi who designed the ARM-based Apple A4 chip. Barring a simply earth-shattering seismic shift, Apple won’t be using Atom inside the iPhone 10 or iPad 5. ARM’s other benefit is that, while it designs the architecture, it uses a licensable model. That means that manufacturers, such as Nvidia with the Tegra or Qualcomm with the Snapdragon, can make their own design adjustments before manufacture. Snapdragon, for example, features Qualcomm proprietary GPU technology. They can also pick the best ARM processor to go in their products and that freedom of design and manufacture is something Intel won’t offer. (techradar.com – Deep into technology, 2011)

So essentially, you see Intel giving away processors at first, if only out of desperation to get teeth in the market. Predictions do not see them being cost-competitive with ARM off the jump. We also do not see them licensing out their architecture. We believe that their plan is the same as it was for desktops, to muscle their way in by throwing money at the manufacturing process and making superior chips by brute force. But, that plan could also backfire on them. Unless they make a clearly, undeniably superior solution, the manufacturers are not likely to want to pay Intel their premium to use their processors.

 

This leads us to the server market. Basically, the server market is 100% tied to Intel, dominated by them in the same way that ARM dominates the mobile chip market. So ARM finds itself in a similar situation that Intel is in with mobile, only inverse. Intel has these behemoth Xeon chips that offer mind-blowing performance. They have everyone on lockdown.

 

IBM and HP and Dell believe in the ARM architecture. They are working to nudge themselves into the server market. With the same essential goal of mobile; power efficiency. While that does not sound like a goal of the types of companies needing servers, just a few years ago, Microsoft was literally begging Intel to come out with servers with multiple Atom processors to try to cut their power costs. As everything goes to the cloud, more-so than native, power efficiency becomes crucial. Companies like Google, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft, are all going server heavy and offering cloud services, and that market is wide open. As more people adopt it, efficiency becomes imperative. Hence, we see ARM building a niche there. ARM has the architecture to utilize that. But in the total opposite of Intel, they need the hardware capability to make smaller, faster chips, where Intel is struggling to find a good balance between power efficiency and speed.

 

Much comparison has been made between the ARM and x86 Architectures since their release. For a trained eye, that of an Information Technology specialist, the list could go on but for the sake of those who are not savvy in the lingo of the essential geek, here is a simplified breakdown of the two products:

–       The advantages of the ARM architecture are design flexibility, graphics/multimedia Internet Protocol (IP), and processor footprint/level of integration.

–        The x86 architecture shines in terms of software compatibility and computational performance, which can sometimes be used in place of dedicated IP.

In a nutshell, ARM is a much smaller company than Intel, with a market capitalisation, at £8.4 billion, round about a tenth of that of the American giant. Whereas Intel has 90,000 employees, the Cambridge-based outfit has a mere 1,700. But many people see this company as the future of the semiconductor industry. Whereas Intel focuses largely on chips for computers, ARM’s strength is in portable devices such as Smartphone’s and tablets.

 

The reason for this is that ARM’s reduced instruction-set technology allows its chips to consume less power, making them ideal for portable devices. And the growth area in hardware at the moment happens to be portable devices.

ARM dominates the Smartphone market, with a 95% market share. But what is really exciting investors is that the business is branching out into other, lucrative areas. (The Motley Fool, 2011)

 

You’ve basically got two companies that previously were in niche markets, beginning to get to the point that they finally face off (again). And really, both have everything to gain and everything to lose. Technology and business pundits would vouch for either one but according to the recent trend in mobile chip technology, ARM seems to be the hot favourite. Intel is still the grandfather of microprocessors and financially speaking, it has nothing to worry about as it is the clear leader in its field. Now that the race for mobile chips is on, ARM is not slowing on its marketing rampage but is clearly eyeing Intel as they head towards the finish line.

 

In a blog published in 2010 comparing the ARM processors and Intel’s x86 architecture (more specifically, the Atom), a performance benchmark test was carried out and the findings are noted below: “The ARM Cortex-A8 achieves surprisingly competitive performance across many integer-based benchmarks while consuming power at levels far below the most energy miserly x86 CPU, the Intel Atom. In fact, the ARM Cortex-A8 matched or even beat the Intel Atom N450 across a significant number of our integer-based tests, especially when compensating for the Atom’s 25 percent clock speed advantage.

 

However, the ARM Cortex-A8 sample that we tested in the form of the Freescale i.MX515 lived in an ecosystem that was not competitive with the x86 rivals in this comparison. The video subsystem is very limited. Memory support is a very slow 32-bit, DDR2-200MHz.

 

Languishing across all of the JavaScript benchmarks, the ARM Cortex-A8 was only one-third to one-half as fast as the x86 competition. However, this might partially be a result of the very slow memory subsystem burdening the ARM core.

 

More troubling is the unacceptably poor double-precision floating-point throughput of the ARM Cortex-A8. While floating-point performance isn’t important to all tasks and is certainly not as important as integer performance, it cannot be ignored if ARM wants its products to successfully migrate upwards into traditional x86-dominated market spaces.” (Blog O’Matty, 2010)

 

Forget Intel versus AMD–that was a chip-maker battle of yesteryear, played out inside your desktop PC. Now the real CPU war is happening inside Smartphone’s and servers, where Intel is playing a desperate game of catch-up to ARM and a few new pretenders, and there’re billions of dollars at stake. (Fast Company, 2010)

Fly-by-night Dreamers.

To everyone who has had to give something/someone up this year because it was just too hard or unrealistic to carry on, this is me saying you are not alone and never will be…..
The last day of 2011 and I am lucky to be able to spend time reflecting on the entire year past. What became and what did not. The many new faces and the old ones. The new ties made and bonds broken. All in the name of moving forward.
Fly-by-night Dreamers, we are a rare breed. We see the world in a different light. We dare to dream even though sometimes it remains just that. There is nothing wrong with trying to capture sand in your palms – it is a mission in itself but it takes a special person to be able to continue holding on even as it slips out of grasp. Remarkable strength and the nerve to throw caution to the wind and continue doing what we do best, hanging on till the very last minute.
So what if he/she couldn’t be yours, so what if all that material stuff couldn’t be yours, so what if time past you by, so what if the man upstairs refused to give you a break? We’re still standing. Resilient like the evergreen. Through hell and high water, we’ve lived and come out stronger then before. I laugh at the naysayers who couldn’t see our worth.
We lived, laughed and loved – and we took one thing away, memories. I’ve lost so much this year alone, and gained something so precious that no man could ever give. They tried to discourage me, tried to break me down but I remained relentless to the course.
The unexpected happened and I found myself caught in a moment that I could never have imagined. I got my Lone Gunman back but with it came a hefty price – how was I to escape it this time? 2 years ago, I found myself miserably in love with someone I could never forget and now I see tiny windows of hope resurface. The overwhelming feelings I once shelved are back to haunt me and it’s killing me inside. Emotionally, I am a wreck yet once again, I hide behind a wonderful mask.
365 days of the year, what a journey I’ve had. Cried and lost and got up to walk again. Misery followed me from Day 1 but I refused to give up because my body, mind and soul would not let me. I sit at the cusp of the New Year and write my heart out because I am blessed to be armed with the mighty pen. You cannot stop me from being who I was born to be. You may try and slow me down and suppress me altogether but I promise to come out stronger and better in 2012.
We, the Fly-by-night Dreamers have a purpose. Find yourself in a moment and don’t let go of it. Trust me, the regrets I have are many. The many times I’ve sat on the beach and pondered thoughts that would frighten the life out of you. I do not belong with you, never have. I am a piece of the universal puzzle that lies scattered around the globe. My body here yet my mind lies elsewhere.
Never think for one moment that you are not expandable or replaceable. Get used to the idea of rejection for it will strengthen you as you climb that ladder of life, one rung at a time. Don’t let them take your dreams away, I beg you. Live, love and laugh with a passion.
The world is your canvas, paint it however you wish to. Blow my mind with your imagination. Find a strong flow and roll with it. Grab his/her hand and don’t let go. Dream big and dream with a fiery vengeance. Let the pain and misery build you from the ground up.
I learnt to harness the anger in me – God knows I harbour so much within. It isn’t easy living life in my shoes. It isn’t a walk in the park being Michelle.
To the men who have come and gone, I raise my middle finger to salute you. You made me who I am today – the monster that lies inside is of your making. The love I gave to you. I could not give to the right one. You held me gently and invoked feelings of madness and love and you walked away leaving me a mess. I got up and dusted your stench off my being and walked on towards the light. You gave me the ammunition to guard my heart with a frenzied passion. I bow before nobody and I never will. How foolish of you to try and break me. Don’t you know the power I wield?
To the circumstances that I could not change, things happen for a reason. I know you had big plans that included me but alas, I just couldn’t hold on. Whenever the world starts crashing down around me, I look up to the Heavens and scream in agony for someone to hear me and rescue me. In fact, I did that this very morning.
Cause and effect – the dance of life. Oh how I danced to the merry tunes you sounded out. Like a marionette, you tugged away at me. Hopeless romantic you call me. Sucker for punishment I call myself. I got lost in the moment once, and I refuse to be swayed this time around. Life, you blinded me with those bright ribbons of colour. Millions of miles away from reality, I find myself stuck between a rock and hard place yet again. I have no strength to get out of it. In fact, I never want to get out of it. I love the sound of your voice in my ears, the wonderful vision before me. I live for the butterflies.
To my mum and sister, I love you like no other in my life. Dad is no longer with us in person but I feel his presence every day. I ask you to forgive me for the times I lost the right to be called a sister and a daughter. There is so much I cannot tell you for there are things I must do alone. Burdens I must carry alone. My heart is heavy as I recollect the memories of old. Unfortunately, “tempus fugit”.
To my close friends Amelia, Hans and Lovoti – the best part of 2011 was being with you guys and sharing my darkest moments knowing that we were always going to be together, no matter the circumstances. I am grateful for you all. I love you.
My closest cousins, my hearts and soul – Damien, Anthea, Fiona and Nola. Only you know the mess that is me. Only you know why I do what I do. The reason why I always love with a passion yet even though it isn’t reciprocated. The reason why the darkest chapters of my life remain unwritten. I swear it’s you that my heart beats for – all of you.
My friends and family too numerous to name – thank you for the memories we’ve made and the moments we’ve shared. I cannot get them back and believe me when I say that I will never forget you.
To dad – I’m still here, miraculously. You know how many times I’ve tried to come see you and how many times you’ve stopped me. How I wish you would let me see you – my life hangs by a thread right now Dad, you see this. I love you so much and I’m sorry I haven’t turned out the way you wanted me to. I’m still learning. We won’t say our goodbyes because it is better this way.
To Life – have at me while you still can. You threw it all my way. You had me on my hands and knees begging you to stop but the torment continues. And for that, I am thankful. The times I’ve bled, I’ve become stronger. You taught me the true meaning of being alive. The scars I carry are many but the biggest battle is yet to come. I stand my ground and herald the approach of your vengeance. Come at me! Do your worst for I am still here!
To my Fly-by-night Dreamers, reclaim what was rightfully yours – you’re in the wrong place trying to make it right, just like me. I’m reaching out to hold your hand now. We have a long walk ahead of us. The world isn’t half as bad as they paint it to be.
We have the chance to change that, or maybe I’m just dreaming out loud.
Goodbye 2011 – the year that will never be forgotten.
 

‘Cause it’s you.

Hi,
You seem to know exactly what my heart feels – you seem to know exactly how to make it beat fast and slow at the same time, and you render me speechless with your choice of words and gestures. I’m a wreck around you and I don’t have the strength in me to fight these emotions that overwhelm me. You tug on my heart strings like I were a marionette.
It’s the last day of 2011 and I haven’t been able to sleep a wink because, like you said, I think too much. Maybe that is my downfall, I don’t know. At the end of it all when the smoke clears, I only have my mind to keep me going because my heart lies useless where it’s always been. I just don’t know any better I guess. I only hope that one day I have my day in the sun – when I get to shout out loud that I am finally where I’m supposed to be.
But for now, I am content to be in this moment, lost in your eyes – and waking up to visions of your smile a 1000 miles away.
We can’t always have what we want and that’s a reality I hold on to everyday of my life. You are a memory in my heart and mind that does not want to leave me, no matter how hard I try. I can’t even begin to comprehend how much I love you and would give up just to be able to see you in person for even a second, I swear I’d die happy.
It’s barely 8am and these are the thoughts I stayed up all night with. I am lost in my thoughts of you. The ice box that is my heart melts every time I see your face – and I only have you to thank.
I ask myself every day why I am so weak around you and I get no answers. It is what it is I suppose.
With this said, I hope you know how much I love you and wish you well for the new year.
My undying love to you,
Mia xx.

The emptiness within.

Christmas is only 3 days away and I find myself in a real quandary. I’m constantly tested and my boundaries pushed to breaking point yet I don’t know how or where to even begin telling my story. He hit me like a hurricane that came out of the blue and destroyed everything in its path. My sanity, my soul and my heart swept away with those few words that he uttered during the morning. The wall that I had built and tried to fortify my being came crashing down at that instant as he appeared out of nowhere. I look back in the past and remember the wonderful moments we shared yet I fear this in so many ways. I was in love once, madly in love. And I was willing to give it all up for one man who proclaimed his love for me. It was real then and still is. I feel his heart beat for me as he utters those familiar words again. I do not understand why things have happened this way and why I am back again feeling the same way when I could be elsewhere loving someone else. He sits so far away from me – so far that I cannot touch him or tell him that I am scared. I fear for myself more then anything because I have done nothing to stop this overwhelming feeling of madness. Sheer stupidity is what a lot would call it but I refuse to listen, or perhaps I hold on to the hopes of possibly seeing his face and having him caress my face as he leans forward to seal the deal with a kiss. Oh how I’ve longed for you! And yet I cannot understand why this is so. I am broken inside. Caught in a crossroads with a death wish – to deal with the devil himself. How this will fare I do not know but for now, it’s the butterflies that I live for. And the hopes of finding true love one day. The concept of true love is so vague. I had that once, a very long time ago. Before everything became complicated and the walls of sanity came crashing down around me, engulfing me in tears and rage because I couldn’t stop my heart from hurting the way it did. I never forgot him – not once. A constant reminder as I heard that familiar tune on the radio, and I swear I could have heard his voice in the background telling me to hold on because the best was yet to come. I am really confused at this point. The headwinds are strong and I’m fighting a losing battle. My body lies here yet my mind is miles away. My soul withering away for not being able to see through it all. And now I find myself drifting one more time – listening to the sounds of Snow Patrol and wondering about the what-ifs that I’ve had all my life. A miserable past that threatens to catch up with me time and time again – and I see it happening now. The pain has slowly started coming back – my chest aching for oxygen as he whispers the words I have been longing to hear. The moment I gaze into his eyes, I lose myself. I cannot help the way I feel any more. I want to walk away but I’m not as strong as I thought I was. Mesmerised by his sweet words and his love. I only hope it is real. So confused. Where am I headed? Tears in my eyes as I force myself to stay awake and understand the reason behind my madness.

Perhaps I’ll leave that for another day, another post.

Today, I cried.

I woke up to the sounds of the birds singing and the neighbours dogs barking as they scampered around like crazy over their breakfast bowls. The suns rays shone through my window this morning, only to be marred by the dark clouds in the distance. I woke up today with a purpose. Today was going to be the day I made some very important decisions. Decisions that would change the course of my life and eventually forge a new path that I was going to walk.
Alas, I also woke up to misery and the reminder that my life was not as perfect as everyone thought it was. Despite the brave front and the weak smile, I suppressed something far too real. Something that had me feeling constricted and awful inside. I came to terms with the sad fact that this burden was mine to bear. Mine alone.
The overwhelming feeling of wanting to scream my guts out in agony and tell Life that it had won and I had lost. I’ve held on for so long now. How much longer before I catch that elusive dream?
Today, I cried. I cried because I’ve hit a snag. I cried because my heart hurts. I cried because my soul is weary. I cried because I needed to. I cried because it’s the only therapy I have.
I am tired. Tired of it all.

You.

Something stirs in the darkness.
The vision before my eyes lit up the room like a starry sky. You stared across at me with those longing eyes, that smile that could knock someone out. I felt your warmth then. I saw the love in your eyes. You were happy to see me. The sheer contentment in you was obvious. I know you felt the same way. How could you not?
Passion that began years before and rekindled itself so easily. Could this be real love? Could this be everything I was looking for?
Someone told me once that the one person you always wanted was right there under your nose yet you could not see it. I questioned that quote, time and time again. A soul-less being drudging on in the shadows, looking for a reason to smile again. I knew what it felt like. It was painful to say the least but then again, who was I to judge the inner workings of a heart in motion.
Where was I heading this time? The answers to the endless questions never to be answered but a lesson at every turn.
I think I almost had it made. Almost.

Business, coconut style.

The sickening thing about Fiji is that you gotta wait around for other people to submit their shit before you are able to get your work off the ground. I despise having to do that because it not only slows me down but pressures me to burn the midnight oil while the deadlines loom. I would rather do the whole segment on my own but unfortunately, my work must coincide with others.
2 days now and I’m getting annoyed with the banks and the Ministries who are delaying me by not replying to their emails on time and not answering their bloody phones. A massive Ministry of about 200 people and not one person is able to hear the phones ring?
Makes me wonder what these people are doing with all that free time. It is greatly annoying for me to have to wait for this long. Deadlines is the key word, and it is looming.
I just gotta grin and bear it till someone is kind enough to get back to me. This is the Technology Age and every 2nd person on the street walks around with a freakin’ iPhone or BlackBerry. All synced to their mail servers and updates are supposedly regular. I am certain they know when there is an incoming message/email. Why the fuck do they blatantly not reply or answer calls?
Then it occurs to me. Extended tea breaks that overlap with lunch hours. Men gathered around fuckin’ grog bowls discussing absolute bullcrap! What a waste of resources!
This is Fiji. This is how we do business. Lovely ain’t it??

Hello WordPress!

Dear Santa,
Since everyone is writing a letter to you, I thought I’d do the same. Firstly, thank you for my early Christmas present/late birthday present that came in a uniform and a big smile! I really am enjoying it 🙂
Secondly, can I please get the Sennheiser MM 550?? It’s not that I ain’t grateful for the early present but it’s just that it has a noise-cancelling function that would be awesome for my mummy as I tend to make a lot of noise with the first present. I love my mum and I want her to have a good sleep when I’m having a “midnight snack” 😀
A true believer,
Mia xx.

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