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Are CPUs now "fast enough" for the vast majority of PC users?

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September 8, 2008 12:35:34 PM

Current dual core CPUs can browse, they can watch videos, do office based work... run the anti-virus at the same time

... all without a problem.





Will the vast majority (which is not really represented on a forum like this) actually need any more?


Does anyone foresee the sort of applications that will be needed to drive the market to purchase more powerful CPUs in the future? If so, what are they?
a b à CPUs
September 8, 2008 12:47:25 PM

For the vast majority of users, CPU's have been fast enough for 5 years now.
September 8, 2008 12:47:26 PM

Until a computer game looks and behaves like reality (we're talking visual quality and physical interaction) then of course there's room for improvement... but once we reach that point... ugh... I don't know.
September 8, 2008 12:56:33 PM

Hard to say. I browsed the Internet and did office work with windows 95 and a 75 mhz Pentium processor. For the most part it wasn't that much "slower" The dial-up did more to kill it as apposed to the processor. Hell, I connected to the Internet and used Netscape back in the windows 3.1 days (although 3.1 was less than ideal).

Web pages, browsers and office software continues to get more complex, more and more software seems to insist on installing and running persistent crap in the background. I suspect that Windows 7 will be bloated to the point that an upgrade to Core i7 will make sense when it gets affordable.

I doubt you we will see another advance as impressive as going from 1 core too 2. I found that, more than anything, significantly improved the overall responsiveness of my computer the most over the last 2 decades. While the original Nehalem is coming as a 4 core package I suspect that most people will not require more than 2 cores in the near future.

Only time will really tell. There was a time that many people didn't think we would ever need more than 640K of ram. I have 4 gigs installed now and my next machine will likely have at least 6.

Edit: Tried to clean it up as much as possible. My spelling and grammar have always been a bit suspect.
a b à CPUs
September 8, 2008 1:02:49 PM

My work PC: 2.8 GHZ Pentium 4: Slow as mosslasses. It takes 2-3 minutes for Toms to load because of that #*%*@#%*@#% flash page at the site index (sorry, pet peeve).

My old home PC: 3.0 GHz Pentium D: Fast, but couldn't play games due to overheating

My friends 3.2 Duo: Great speed, but lacks performance on certain high end games (he has the same GPU and memory as me)

My ~3.45 Quad: Crysis 35-55 FPS. Enough said.
September 8, 2008 1:19:34 PM

rodney_ws said:
Until a computer game looks and behaves like reality (we're talking visual quality and physical interaction) then of course there's room for improvement... but once we reach that point... ugh... I don't know.


That is true for the most part. The thing is atm, mainstream CPUs are fast enough for most users.
Any X2,X3 or Q6600/E2xxx will do the trick. Im using a old 3700+ Clawhammer here at work, and although is enough, it still struggles a lot in heavy multi-tasking.

But yes, my guess is, for the exception of heavy users (frantic is more the word) or enthusiasts, CPUs are now enough. CPUs will evolve to do other branches as well. Thus ill keep my fingers crossed until Bulldozer. My 4800 X2 that i have at home is more than enough for now.

Hell, my mother that is a heavy multi-tasker (not at my pace, but still a multi-tasker) in Office, WEB and other aplications (she is a School teacher Coordinator, abotu 200 persons below her + she still teaches, so look at heavy Excel+Word+PDF ) and shes rocking a Athlon 1500+ with 1gb ram. No the fastest rig on earth, but suitable for her needs. With a Raid 0 of 2 old 80GB 7200 RPM drives. Now it is good to have a son in IT :) 

So, i guess, looking at the persons around me, and their use of the computers, yes, the actual mainstream CPUs are more than enough. GPUs are another history though.


a b à CPUs
September 8, 2008 1:23:58 PM

A fast single core is more than fast enough for the majority of PC users. Gaming and resource hogging games like Crysis don't fit into the category of "vast majority of PC users".

It isn't so much how fast cpu's have gotten and that they need to be faster, it's the poorly written and bloated code (*cough*Windows*cough*Vista Aero*cough*) that has in part driven the need for faster/bigger/better procs.

A 1GHz P3 Coppermine can run the hell out of Ubuntu loaded with Open Office just as fast as a dual core running Vista Business and Office 2007.
a b à CPUs
September 8, 2008 1:48:50 PM

The only killer apps out there are games the Graphics cards can't handle.

The only killer app out there is the front end on the i-phone at the moment ...

Stick any dual core 2Ghz or higher cpu into a PC box and spend big on a graphics card to get the best bang for your buck I say.

Unless your running Vista ... then get a 3 Ghz CPU ... and 4Gig of RAM.

Vista ... the Killer er ... "App" Or virus possibly sounds more accurate.

Amiga500 your point is quite sound ... for a business / home PC.

Not for a gaming box tho ...
September 8, 2008 1:57:58 PM

When we start seeing more graphically oriented themes in our daily compute experience, better cpus will be needed. Touch screens, vr, real life 3d, all these things are possible, and would be desirable, if we had better cpus. Currently? Yes, but if 1 company already had the things Ive mentioned, who do you think would be selling more?
September 8, 2008 2:16:52 PM

'Fast Enough' is more of a matter of perspective. If your going to watch movies, run anti-virus program do office base work, then all you need is an emachine, without the bloatware the comes with it.

But on this forum, obviously fast enough will never be enough. I thought it was insane to OC to 4ghz, but no... people push it even farther. :lol: 

Seem as though Intel or AMD can't really go that much faster. I mean, rather then faster, we are seeing more cores per physical CPU.

And when you have a user wanting to build a new system, or even purchase a new system, fast enough really isn't going through their minds, but perhaps what is the fastest they can afford, so they won't have to upgrade sooner then they think they need to.
September 8, 2008 2:22:27 PM

JAYDEEJOHN said:
When we start seeing more graphically oriented themes in our daily compute experience, better cpus will be needed. Touch screens, vr, real life 3d, all these things are possible, and would be desirable, if we had better cpus. Currently? Yes, but if 1 company already had the things Ive mentioned, who do you think would be selling more?


The problem in your dream (witch is like, VR would be smashing) is software. CPUs and GPUs and processors in general are evolving in a very fast pace. The software just isnt keeping the pace.

X86-64 is been here for 5 years. Only NOW people are THINKING of getting a 64 bits OS. And it is a major breakthrough.
Linux presents a much better kernel for some years now ( i was going to say decades, but hey, im not that evil), and only a few use it. User resistivity to change is one thing that is keeping us behind.

While me and many more on this forum we like to push our hardware to the limits, most Joe Consumer just want to use it , out-of-the-box. Some i knwo love the bloatware that comes with those computers.
September 8, 2008 2:26:52 PM

rodney_ws said:
Until a computer game looks and behaves like reality (we're talking visual quality and physical interaction) then of course there's room for improvement... but once we reach that point... ugh... I don't know.


Rodney strikes again :sol: 

The increase in hardware performance has spurred the development cycle (and vice/versa) ever since we got off the abacus. There's enough performance in the hardware now that bloated software can slip into mainstream platforms...which under the older systems just wasn't happening. If your code was cr@p, then nobody bought it because of performance.

The increase in performance has also allowed developers to run applets to do many things that weren't available before - some of which are useful. IM systems really can allow for better communications, telephony is MUCH better when the computer can help with message handling, and - as Rodney hinted at - the gaming environment is improved dramatically.

Of course, my home desktop is a quad core 3.4Ghz with 4G of ram and 512M graphics card just to play mmorpg's, so I'm into processor overkill anyway.
September 8, 2008 2:38:39 PM

rodney_ws said:
Until a computer game looks and behaves like reality (we're talking visual quality and physical interaction) then of course there's room for improvement... but once we reach that point... ugh... I don't know.


+1

At our given rate, even our cavemen brethren will be happy.


I've been wondering, what type of pron do cavemen look at?
September 8, 2008 2:43:27 PM

spaztic7 said:

I've been wondering, what type of pron do cavemen look at?


If I told you, you'd never have a chubby again... so I'm gonna do the merciful thing and not tell you.
September 8, 2008 2:56:25 PM

No disrespect, but eurowoman? Hairy armpits?
September 8, 2008 2:56:48 PM

My two cents worth. For average tasks, my four year old 939 socket 4400+ does everything that I need. In fact, its overkill for most things. At the same time, I run a lot of business apps that eat all the cores and power I can feed them. The big reason that I switched to quad core for my new machine, and the one that's presently being built, is because the dual core 4400+ was suffering slowdowns at times. I load all four cores on my quad with business apps, so there is an obvious need for the cores and performance in that situation.

But for the average user out there? Very few even need a dual core, much less a quad core. As Rodney alluded to, when the graphics power starts simulating reality, then more power will be needed. But even that probably won't affect the average user. Its the programmers that need to change. Stop the endless bloatware (M$, but a few others), including some websites that are ever changing their looks and features, while becoming ever harder to navigate and understand. Why is it that Lotus 1-2-3, which I used when writing my masters and later doctorate thesis was so much easier to use, understand, and faster than the latest, greatest thing from M$? Oh yes, because Lotus wasn't crammed with garbage that I never use and was easy to manage, format, etc. I miss Lotus 1-2-3.
September 8, 2008 3:27:21 PM

I'm still happy with my system (see sig). I run all the games I play at 1024x768 (it's a 15" Samsung LCD, max res) and it has treated me well for the past 4 years (I think, I'm stuggling to remember when I got it). Hense the reason I have not upgraded yet. Do I dream of building a P45+4850+Core2 system? Yes. Is it justified by necessity? Not yet, since it's still adequate for my needs.
September 8, 2008 3:32:34 PM

Heh.. my P4 was adequate. My E4400 was umm... very adequate. My Q6600... Well, I had cash to burn, and Vista 64bit to mess with. So I wanted Blue Screen faster x4 :p 

Edit:

But now that I have everything fixed, no more blue screens... :cry: 
September 8, 2008 3:39:16 PM

Grimmy said:

But now that I have everything fixed, no more blue screens... :cry: 


Wait for another windows update !!!! You should never lose hope on this matters.
September 8, 2008 3:42:23 PM

Yes a CPU is "fast enough" you can get your work done in no time. However until my applications open up as soon as I click the shortcut, so long as I don't instantly connect to a wireless network, and as long as my computer doesn't turn on the instant I press the power button CPUs, and the PC as a whole has room for improvement. Then software can improve, that usually means higher hardware demands.

People don't like old stuff. Especially my generation but you would be surprised at the number of older folks that want a really fast computer to surf the Internet. You would be surprised at the number of older people willing to drop $1000 into a computer just because they want there computer to boot faster.

Having to wait 25 odd seconds for my PC to start up and messenger to log on and drivers to load isn't a huge hit to anyones productivity. However, people still want their computers faster. The only factor isn't the CPU but its is a big factor.
September 8, 2008 3:42:40 PM

Updates I'm not too worried about. Service Pack, I might look more forward into blue screens then. :kaola: 
September 8, 2008 3:44:20 PM

timaahhh said:
Having to wait 25 odd seconds for my PC to start up and messenger to log on and drivers to load isn't a huge hit to anyones productivity. However, people still want their computers faster. The only factor isn't the CPU but its is a big factor.


Well.. takes me less then 25 secs to get back on my desktop without having to ever see a POST screen. :whistle: 
September 8, 2008 3:52:59 PM

Well, the real point I'm getting at is will AMD and Intel continue to drive forward on a pure performance perspective if the majority of their market already have what they need (performance wise)?


Will concepts like the Atom be the future - simpler & cheaper?


I'm worried we could be getting to the computing equivalent of Concorde (commercial air travel).
September 8, 2008 3:54:35 PM

Well everyone's assuming computer speed = cpu speed or even if they're not there's little mention of other factors.

There's a lot to gain from faster storage devices, faster network, optimized software and theses are things that "the majority of people" WILL actually notice. The CPU is important but beyond a rather lowly threshold (by our gaming standards) regular tasks are held back by other factors.
a b à CPUs
September 8, 2008 4:05:14 PM

Amiga500 said:
Current dual core CPUs can browse, they can watch videos, do office based work... run the anti-virus at the same time

... all without a problem.


i did all that on my amd k6 500Mhz with 256MB ram and winXP. never complained.
k6 was out in 1999,i think........

......i only updated to play games......
September 8, 2008 4:12:47 PM

+1 to whoever first said that software programmers need to start making the code a little "leaner".

These windows-based perating systems are getting out of hand. I long for the day where turning on my computer is no different than turning on my TV and I can start doing what I wanna do right away.
September 8, 2008 4:12:52 PM

Considering that so many people are buying laptops these days, with integrated graphics, I would definitely say that the current Core 2 duos (and their laptop counterparts) are plenty for the average user. [:mousemonkey] The weak point for people that buy the cheapos these days is the video card, and that is mostly because of Vista.

I am still using a P4 3.0 with XP. I can't play the latest games well and would not want to install Vista on it. Those are the two reasons I am considering upgrading to a Core 2 duo or quad.
September 8, 2008 4:14:19 PM

JAYDEEJOHN said:
No disrespect, but eurowoman? Hairy armpits?

I was just kidding... my tastes are pretty tame. But let me be on the record as saying this... HAIRY WOMEN SCARE ME. *shudders*
September 8, 2008 4:26:25 PM

DXRick said:
Considering that so many people are buying laptops these days, with integrated graphics, I would definitely say that the current Core 2 duos (and their laptop counterparts) are plenty for the average user. [:mousemonkey] The weak point for people that buy the cheapos these days is the video card, and that is mostly because of Vista. ]http://www.mysmiley.net/imgs/smile/rolleye/rolleye.gif

I am still using a P4 3.0 with XP. I can't play the latest games well and would not want to install Vista on it. Those are the two reasons I am considering upgrading to a Core 2 duo or quad.

Here ya go http://www.madshrimps.be/?action=getarticle&number=10&a... Its drivers, not Vista, not saying that Vista isnt bloated, but sw hasnt caught up with Vista, let alone 64bit. @ rodney, I hear ya, but looking at the Ruby trailer, it looks promising, with alot of people questioning raytracing after seeing, comparing it to Intels RT that is
September 8, 2008 4:28:38 PM

rodney_ws said:
I was just kidding... my tastes are pretty tame. But let me be on the record as saying this... HAIRY WOMEN SCARE ME. *shudders*


I think you are going for a wild ride once your get married. Or live more permanently with a girl. Not that they are hairy, or something.....but lets say that intimacy is a dual edged blade.

I wish you a fun and prosperous life.
September 8, 2008 4:29:22 PM

rodney_ws said:
HAIRY WOMEN SCARE ME. *shudders*


Well, you can always just give them a good clubbing.
September 8, 2008 4:40:28 PM

JAYDEEJOHN said:
Here ya go http://www.madshrimps.be/?action=getarticle&number=10&a... Its drivers, not Vista, not saying that Vista isnt bloated, but sw hasnt caught up with Vista, let alone 64bit.


Me thinks the P4 3.0 would bottleneck an Nvidia GTX280 or ATI HD4870X2 (not to mention that my mobo is AGP). :lol:  It wouldn't make much sense to use the fastest GPUs in that old system. :p 
September 8, 2008 5:51:57 PM

Your right. A P4 would slow down either of those cards.

If you were going to upgrade, you can to a core 2 duo for cheap, or even Phenom for cheap as well.

Yeah....
September 8, 2008 6:04:51 PM

Well, many CPUs are "fast enough". (You're not doing this but,) I don't like it when the "fast enough" argument is brought into situation where benchmarks are being used.

I've got an old S939 Opteron 175 and it is fast enough for me, but I really want a quad-core. Every once-in-a-while I do some video encoding and it would be nice to drastically cut the wait, but is my dual core "fast enough" to do it? Yes. Is it "fast enough" to do it in a time that I find acceptable, no.

In terms of gaming, my processor does fine in any game I own, with Crysis being the lone exception.


But we're all enthusiasts, is anything ever fast enough!?
September 8, 2008 6:07:10 PM

I gotta say it, most people are happy with their Dell, Gateway, HP, ect... The thing that boggs these PC's down the most is the 2 tons of "Crapware" these OEM's also install on these systems. My Mom, and Sister are using some of my older single core PC's (which I built). One of these old systems is a 3000+ Barton, since all my Mom does is websurf, and check e-mail (also plays Solitaire, and some NES games I left on it) It works fine. My sister is running one of my old Socket 940 systems with no problems (other than her own stupidity of course). Granted they are doing nothing spectacular, such as gaming, graphic design, ect... (I'm still waiting on Fallout 3, Crysis sucked) There is no reason to upgrade them, till those PC's die.

(both are running XP Pro 32bit)
a b à CPUs
September 8, 2008 6:20:41 PM

If Core2Quad had been around at the times of Windows 98 we would be flying.
All those security updates and service packs have slowed down all the potential modern hardware has. Also all those extra instructions were supposed to make it a whole lot faster.

September 8, 2008 6:26:34 PM

radnor said:
I think you are going for a wild ride once your get married. Or live more permanently with a girl. Not that they are hairy, or something.....but lets say that intimacy is a dual edged blade.

I wish you a fun and prosperous life.

Been married once already... wasn't too bad... at least not in that department. And yes, the wife did have issues with the facial hair.
September 8, 2008 6:31:22 PM

radnor said:
Linux presents a much better kernel for some years now ( i was going to say decades, but hey, im not that evil), and only a few use it. User resistivity to change is one thing that is keeping us behind


If by 'a few', you mean hundreds of millions, yes. OK, that's mostly servers and embedded systems, but Linux is everywhere these days.

And for the desktop it's fine; even my girlfriend is now using Linux instead of Windows for web browsing and the like, and the Athlon 5000+ in the Linux machine spends most of its time underclocked to 1GHz because that's all the power it needs.

Games, video editing, 3D rendering and HD H.264 playback are among the few things that still need a fast PC; a P3-1GHz is plenty fast enough for most people who don't do that. While I'm planning to build a Nehalem system for video editing and games next year, my next PC will probably be a 1.6GHz Atom, for a low-power server; running Linux, obviously.
September 8, 2008 6:41:41 PM

Today’s CPUs are fast enough when running today’s (or yesterday’s) software.

Tomorrow’s operating system is going to suck up more clocks for security and DRM. Word processors will want to deliver faster spell check, grammatical checking and faster cut/paste. Even today, taking video from camcorder to DVD probably takes a bit longer than our drive-thru/microwave oven culture would like.
September 8, 2008 6:44:51 PM

This is an interesting discussion. I think it's also good to keep in mind that we're not just looking for "fast enough," but also "cheap enough." PCs that can do everything the average person needs have been coming down in price, but there's still room for them to drop further. It's not such a big deal for middle class people, but there are still many out there who face the "digital divide" because it's really tough to pay for even a $500 PC when your credit is in the **** and the rent is due Tuesday.

I guess another thing to consider is that we're nowhere near unlocking the full potential of personal computing. Eventually I can see cores devoted to perfect (or almost) voice recognition, health scanning, or other things of such utility. Who knows, maybe one day we'll have powerful AI research assistants for everyone, but we're going to need more CPU power to get there.
September 8, 2008 6:49:45 PM

MarkG said:
If by 'a few', you mean hundreds of millions, yes. OK, that's mostly servers and embedded systems, but Linux is everywhere these days.


That's like saying hundreds of millions of people use OS/2 because it runs many ATMs.
September 8, 2008 7:25:04 PM

metrazol said:
This is an interesting discussion. I think it's also good to keep in mind that we're not just looking for "fast enough," but also "cheap enough."


Interesting point.

In the context, which seems to be rather broad, anything you could buy new today would be fast enough, even a Phenom, just kidding, even a sempron or celeron.

The big thing today is having at a minimum 1 gig of RAM, but I would recommed 2 gigs for most users, but RAM is so cheap it might as well be sold at the checkout next to the gum.
a c 126 à CPUs
September 9, 2008 12:06:34 AM

Yes they are "fast enough". My grandparents are a great example. I built them a very cheap machine a while ago that just has a Pentium 4 2.4GHz on the 400MHz FSB with 2GB of RAM. Its plenty fast for them and was quite cheap at the time.

I built another one with a C2D E6550 and 2GB of RAM and its more than enough for them for the next 5 years or so.

Even a old Pentium 4/AMD Athlon XP will be fine for most users. Its mainly servers, video production and gamers/enthusiasts that benefit from the newest and latest tech. I think that C2D and Athlon X2 will last most of the normal users about 5+ years or until the apps need the newer stuff which will be a long time since even the latest apps only need a Pentium III class CPU to run well.
September 9, 2008 12:50:32 AM

uguv said:
That's like saying hundreds of millions of people use OS/2 because it runs many ATMs.


If you count anyone who interacts in some way with a system using that OS rather than the number of systems, then the the numbers for Linux would be in the billions. I very much doubt there are hundreds of millions of OS/2 systems in the world.
September 9, 2008 2:04:22 AM

If you count people interacting with atms, wouldnt that get into the billions> Besides, Im waiting for the VIA extremely fast usaine/insane edition
September 9, 2008 3:20:10 AM

Can I use it? Also, the VIA chip can chase down a piece of Pi in under 10 seconds
September 9, 2008 10:07:50 AM

TechnologyCoordinator said:
I've OCed my ATM.


Impossible is nothing, and ill refrain for further commentaries in this case.
!