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When will CPU's be fast enough?

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January 17, 2003 3:56:10 PM

I was just wondering if CPU's will ever get to the point where you will buy one and never 'need' to upgrade again.

I was just thinking back in the days of the 386/486 and how most people tried to buy the best to be able to delay the time that they would have to upgrade again, but they knew that they would need to upgrade because the 486 definately wasn't fast enough.

Now, upgrading is getting less and less necessary. With a 1 GHz system you can't say that word processing, web browsing, spreadsheets, etc. don't work just fine. Right now, about the only things I can see that drive faster CPU's are AutoCAD, video editing, and games. Do you think that we will reach a point where upgrading the CPU and graphics card no longer gives you a significant amount of a performance increase to justify an upgrade? (I believe we already passed that point with office applications a while ago).

I just think that with a 4 GHz cpu, and a video card twice as fast as the Radeon 9700 pro, that even video editing and games would not be much of a driving force... only people's idea that they need something better.

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January 17, 2003 4:21:17 PM

I agree that office apps run well on today's, as well as yesterday's, computers. Gaming and high-end data manipulation like video editing will always demand more and more power from processors though. Resolution of video improves over time, so it'll take better and better processors to manipulate it. And gaming upgrades go without question.

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January 17, 2003 4:22:24 PM

sorry, but I have yet to hear about a PC being too fast for anything. From the C-64 on (running at under 1MHz clockrate) to a modern P4 or Athlon XP, software always needed faster CPUs. There doesn't exist something like a too fast PC or car and it will never happen because Murphy says so :) 
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January 17, 2003 4:27:08 PM

Quote:
I was just wondering if CPU's will ever get to the point where you will buy one and never 'need' to upgrade again.

One could argue that they already are, and that those who do still upgrade do so out of 'desire', not 'need'.

At the same time, one could also argue that such an event will never happen. As processors get faster, this allows software to incorporate more logic before a performance loss occurs. So as long as processors get faster, software get's 'smarter'. And this cycle will never end because there is no point were something is ever just 'smart enough'. There's always room for improvement there. :) 

Quote:
With a 1 GHz system you can't say that word processing, web browsing, spreadsheets, etc. don't work just fine.

Why can't you? As an aspiring author, I would absolutely love to have a much more intelligent word processor, including a <i>much</i> better grammar checker.

More intelligence needs faster processors and more hard drive space and RAM. I'd also love a thesaurus pop up if I select a word and press a key combination. What would <i>really</i> be nice though is a descriptionary feature. (A database where you do searches for words based on descriptions of the word, such as a search for "long range talk" would bring up a list of words like "telephone, walkie-talkie, two-way radio, satellite" and so on and so forth.) Those are great for when you're having a massive brain fart. :) 

But to incorporate all of these features and more directly into Word in a seamless manner would mean that we'll need faster processors, even for just little old Word. (And if Word already has any of these features, please forgive me, for I'm still stuck using Star Office 5.)

And games especially could use this. How many people are truely content with even just the combat AI in games? (Not to mention non-combative AI such as bartenders and shop keeps in role-playing-games.)

So I'd say that there really is no point where processing power will be 'enough', because so long as there are computer programmers who want to make software more robust and intelligent, there will be a need for more processing power.

Graphical processing power on the other hand may reach a certain point. Once 3D models can exceed the quality depth of reality, they've pretty much reached that point. However, when was the last time that you saw a 3D model even close to actual representation of tree bark or grains of gravel? We just skim over those with texture maps (and recently bump maps). The day we can represent all of these objects as true polygonal shapes in a ray-tracing engine is the day that we've reached that level of reality. That however is decades off.


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January 17, 2003 5:26:36 PM

I say when FSB Speeds (Actual not multiplied) catch up to the CPU speeds we should be pretty well off. Its like having a funnel affect, no matter how much water you pour in, the same lesser amount still comes out at a much slower speed.

And one more thing.. use less power and generate less heat.

My .02

<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by edpsx on 01/17/03 02:27 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
January 17, 2003 5:32:12 PM

Quote:
One could argue that they already are, and that those who do still upgrade do so out of 'desire', not 'need'.

That is true, what I was trying to say is that I thought we would reach a point where we would no longer 'need' to upgrade to make things more playable or useable. If your graphics drops to 60 fps from 230 because of newer software titles, that still isn't a 'need'. Or if you have to settle with 4x AA instead of 8x, again, that wouldn't be a 'need'.

Quote:
Why can't you? As an aspiring author, I would absolutely love to have a much more intelligent word processor, including a much better grammar checker.

Right now, you can use any word processor just fine with a 1 GHz cpu. I think that the other things you mentioned might be future hurtles for software engineers more than anything else. Those things you mentioned are very hard to program. I don't think that they are limiting their programs for our sake so that they will run on our hardware. If you show me a word processor that can do all that, then we can argue what the minimum requirements would be for it. I think it would be easy to have those options, but not run them constantly in the background, and then you could still run it with a 1 GHz cpu. Better search engines don't really need that much better hardware. If you want to talk about better speech recognition, etc. Again, the hardware isn't really limiting that technology, it is software. Once software engineers overcome more hurtles, it still won't require much more hardware than what is required now for the innacurate speech recognition we have now.

I never wanted to say that we could have a computer that was 'too fast'. Only that after a point, additional speed isn't that necessary, only convenient. Only the future can tell, but as far as the functions you do on an ordinary home PC now, I think that we will probably reach that point within 2 years.

I do believe that as we reach that point, we will probably just start coming out with more things to do on them. Yes, you can do video editing at higher resolutions. For professional use, you always need more computing power, but for home videos, most people can live with 640x480.

I just see a computer bought 2 years from now never really becoming obsolete until gaming, office apps, and video editing is all done elsewhere. Then why would you use a PC if everything was integrated into everything else.

I don't know if that makes sense and you are free to disagree with me. One thing that I think you will agree with though is that computers bought a year ago are/were useful for a longer period of time than computers bought 6 years ago. With the useful lifespan of computers increasing I was just projecting into the future and estimating that computers would eventually become useful for 10+ years without the need of an upgrade.
January 17, 2003 5:38:42 PM

Quote:
sorry, but I have yet to hear about a PC being too fast for anything. From the C-64 on (running at under 1MHz clockrate) to a modern P4 or Athlon XP, software always needed faster CPUs. There doesn't exist something like a too fast PC or car and it will never happen because Murphy says so :) 

Agreed, but maybe this analogy will help. I have a DVD player that I bought 2 years ago. It plays all my DVD's just fine. I am sure you can easily put in a faster decoder, etc. and add more options like smoother searching, etc., but you can't say that my DVD player doesn't play DVD's well enough.

Before you comment, I know that is an oversimplified illustration, but my point is that while you can always make a PC faster, if you can still do all the same tasks adequately well on a PC that is 4 years older, why upgrade? I think we will reach that point within the next few years. Just an opinion and I thought I would share it. That is all.
January 17, 2003 6:52:08 PM

or is it?

lol

the more and more software applications become more complex and more memory hungry and also larger.. the more power you will need... so the basic answer to your question, will it ever be fast enough is.

it is only fast enough until they stop making newer software, or games that run on more higher-end engines.

as tim allen said on "Tool Time" i need more power! ehhhh ehuhgh!!!

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January 17, 2003 8:08:38 PM

The day I can have my holodeck with unnoticable differences from "real-world" without a single slowdown (again, unable to tell that it's not real), I will loose contact with the rest of the world and hence, new computing releases.

"We are Microsoft, resistance is futile." - Bill Gates, 2015.
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January 17, 2003 10:20:07 PM

I work with customers directly. I know that the majority need nothing more than a Pentium 133, Windows 95, and Office 97. These programs seem to be almost as fast as winXP and Office XP is on a new system. But most people can't be convinced.

Corporations usually upgrade their systems as part of a service agreement. Many lease their computers for 3 years will full service, others buy their computers and replace them at the end of the warranty. In fact, I see computer recyclers scrapping good computers that are only 3 years old and still better than the average user needs. The largest recyclers don't even have the capacity to sell the parts individually, I can buy 3 year old motherboards by the ton now (yes, by weight).

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January 18, 2003 9:53:28 PM

hmmm, just a little example here. My sister is currently using a P 233, with 96 megs of ram and a 4mb video card and Win 98. And you know what? She couldn't be happier!! All she does is go to the boards and post, and use msn. She has never made a complaint about it, (except when she wants to watch a trailer of some sort, then she goes on mine). Thing is, she is used to the speed of her comp and has learned to live with it. I find my computer(P3 800, 512Pc 133, geforce mx 440) just fine for surfing and word proccesing. Gaming is another story, as I'll be upgrading the cpu and vid. card shortly :) 
I suppose it depends on what you use it for: surfing/msg'ing/wp, and if your comp runs everything, no need to upgrade. Gamers are constantly demanding the best graphics, the highest frames, the best details..., so they need a faster cpu.
January 19, 2003 1:39:44 AM

---------------------quote---------------------
Corporations usually upgrade their systems as part of a service agreement. Many lease their computers for 3 years will full service, others buy their computers and replace them at the end of the warranty. In fact, I see computer recyclers scrapping good computers that are only 3 years old and still better than the average user needs. The largest recyclers don't even have the capacity to sell the parts individually, I can buy 3 year old motherboards by the ton now (yes, by weight).
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damn give them here

i am into 3d graphics and it is my dream to collect old computers (not to old)-and make a renderfarm for use as a place for people to learn 3d (who can't afford the programs)

and also to have a company using the farm for rendering commercials and stuff. (also perhaps selling speed to the movie companys for cheap (when they are on a deadline))

damn man that is what i need (old stuff about p2-p3 era)

oh well i will do that in 4 years when out of design school

see ya

p.s. consumer culturs as the US is, encourage wasteful use of resouces. computers are no exception, capitalisim will not rest until our earth is plunderd of all natural resouces.

without capitalisim computer speed would be increasing more slowely (life would be better as well)

p.s. stupid george bush disrespecting my mum(mom). (mother earth of course)
January 19, 2003 5:45:14 AM

Here is a simple answer to a complicated question:

When you can download a patch for the cpu to increase the speed or it just increases it's own speed over time! That's when they will be fast enough and all you have to do is just buy one cpu and never have to worry about upgrading that particular component.

Of course, then we might be looking at computers that become self-aware! Spooky.

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January 19, 2003 6:11:26 AM

Dr John C. Lilly, a very interesting scientist believed that their will be silicon based lifeforms that will take over the world once they figure out they do not really need us. Then computers will be fast enough, at least for humans!

He did many experiments that many others wrote books about and made movies on the experiments that he had worked on.

I suggest you look at his website. <A HREF="http://www2.eccosys.co.jp/lilly/hub.html" target="_new"> Dr John C Lilly</A>

Buy some of his books. "I Scientist" is very cool. A must read!

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January 19, 2003 1:09:01 PM

Joh Lilly? John 'guy who tried to convince the world of the superior intellect of dolphins with extremely poor scientific method' Lilly? Not that I don't like dolphin... on the contrary, they are my favourite creature, but Lilly is a nutball.

As if a system that would be given full learning AI and adaptive reasoning would be connected externally in any way to any system that would allow it to do so. Only a complete tool would design an AI with complete freedom :p 

But, to the topic at hand. I use a Curix 166 clocked at 133 (don't ask), 80 meg of ram, 1mb vid card. It lets me post here, it lets me do my reports, and surf the web (albeit slowly with flash animations). I am upgrading... why? Need. I do music, and I need a system that will let me run more than one module at a time in Audiomulch, let me mix 10 tracks at once so I don't have to cut and paste all the time, and so forth. A p4 2.4 will do that, and that's all I will need for the next 6 years following. I may 'want' a faster system in that time, but I don't 'need' one, so I won't buy one, unless sytem dies. Simple as that.

As proggies get more complicated, better processors will need to get faster to keep up... particularly with the bloatware MS puts out, along with ICQ and other 'let's make a program 3 times bigger than it needs to be' codes. Eventually, a wall will be reached where we will no longer be able to tell appreciably the difference between processor speeds.. probably organic processors or quantum processors based on nuclear processors... who knows? Who cares? I'll be long dead before that time is reached, so I don't really give a snake fart.

-

I plugged my ram into my motherboard, but unplugged it when I smelled cooked mutton.
January 20, 2003 5:51:27 AM

Scienticfic needs not with standing. For the home users desktop it is when a computer is fast enough and powerfull enough to support voice commands and respond in real time.

While Graphics and Audio certanly push computers to faster and faster speeds it is the Voice Reconigiton area that needs even more computing power to work well. If it were just a software problem then IBM, MS and others would have all ready had this kind of software running "HAL" like on our desktops by now.

Yup. Real time Voice Reconigiton. I'd like that. Walk into the room, "Computer on". "Check E-mail." "Kill spamers."


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January 20, 2003 2:06:12 PM

I agree with most of the opinions here. "Fast" is something that depends on what you are doing and what are you expecting from your system.

I also would like to mention that OS are a big part of the "upgrade need". I know each version is better, less buggy (at least it's supposed it is ...), etc.

My two computers run under W98SE. It's fine. Most problems are already known and can be avoided, or I already have a patch for it. They are tunned and work perfect. The older one (right now is dead, I'm trying to revive my lovely K6-2 450+ :frown: !) can run perfectly paired with 256 PC133 SDRAM and GF2 MX PCI. Under Windows XP, I will be really slowly, I'm sure.

Oh yes, and K6-2+ 450 can play Unreal 2003, but that computer will never be used for that. Because that's my wife's comp, and she only plays Minesweper, browses Internet, do so Office and syncro her Palm. And that's all. So, why we should invest in a new computer?


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January 20, 2003 5:01:16 PM

Quote:
That is true, what I was trying to say is that I thought we would reach a point where we would no longer 'need' to upgrade to make things more playable or useable. If your graphics drops to 60 fps from 230 because of newer software titles, that still isn't a 'need'. Or if you have to settle with 4x AA instead of 8x, again, that wouldn't be a 'need'.

Exactly. For some there is no further need than what they have because what they have does well enough.

Quote:
Right now, you can use any word processor just fine with a 1 GHz cpu.

Where as I disagree. I've seen word processors chunk even with 1GHz. For people who's job is to write as fast as possible, their needs are for speed, not just for eventual functionality.

Further, Word processors <i>could</i> do so much more, and there are plenty of people who could come to need them. Right now they <i>do</i> have the needs, but have to find other solutions to fill those needs. If software engineers thought that the typical user could meet much better hardware requirements, they would program their software to take advantage of that and be even more functional.

Quote:
Better search engines don't really need that much better hardware.

Appearantly you've never written code for a search engine or database. If they didn't meed much better hardware, there wouldn't be a need to devote servers specifically to running them.

Quote:
If you want to talk about better speech recognition, etc. Again, the hardware isn't really limiting that technology, it is software.

And this is exactly where your logic is flawed. It takes better hardware to write the better software. You can write all the nice code that you want, but unless there is hardware fast enough to execute it in a usable period of time, it's worthless. And that is the flaw with a lot of this software, is that there isn't fast enough hardware to put in excellent logic without it running too slow to be usable. The speed of the hardware of the typical user is preventing the software from advancing.

Quote:
One thing that I think you will agree with though is that computers bought a year ago are/were useful for a longer period of time than computers bought 6 years ago.

Actually, I completely disagree. My Pentium 133 lasted me quite a number of years before I needed to upgrade. Even then, I only upgraded because the hardware in the darn thing was failing piece by piece and it was simply less expensive to completely replace it with my now in use Celeron 500.

I think that the same monetary investment in a computer lasts about the same amount of time that it always has. There are periods of ups and of downs, but for the most part computers last just as long as they have in the past and will last in the future.

I think the whole point of this conversation has one fundamental flaw. Most people assume that everyone's 'need' is the same to answer this debate. The problem is, everyone has a different 'need'. What works for one doesn't work for all. So neither does the logic that applies to their 'needs'.


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January 20, 2003 5:11:58 PM

Quote:
I work with customers directly. I know that the majority need nothing more than a Pentium 133, Windows 95, and Office 97. These programs seem to be almost as fast as winXP and Office XP is on a new system. But most people can't be convinced.

No kidding! Pentium 133s rocked. :)  I miss mine and it's 128MB of EDO. It was a true classic.

That aside, while a great system, it doesn't meet my needs anymore. You made two excellent statements though:

Quote:
<font color=blue>the majority need nothing more than</font color=blue>

Not everyone's needs are the same.

Quote:
<font color=blue>a Pentium 133, Windows 95, and Office 97. These programs seem to be almost as fast as winXP and Office XP is on a new system</font color=blue>

Old software can run on old computers just fine. New software needs more. Imagine what it would be like to try and run WinXP and OfficeXP on that Pentium 133. As hardware advances, it allows software to do more. In the case of Microsoft, they're exceptionally good at bloating, but the point still stands.

New product = does more = needs faster CPU to run. So long as computer programmers still exist, this is a never ending cycle.


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a b à CPUs
January 20, 2003 5:39:02 PM

Yes, well, most people don't use the advanced features of MS Word. And exactly how much better is Word XP than Word 97? It doesn't seem any easier to use. Oh, it has a lot more PICTURES in the clip gallery, but you don't need a faster processor for that. Or is Windows XP easier to use than 95? What does IE6 give us that we REALLY NEED? Support for newer types of popup adds?

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January 21, 2003 1:23:41 PM

Quote:
And exactly how much better is Word XP than Word 97? It doesn't seem any easier to use

I wholeheartedly agree. There is no feature that I've ever used in any version of word that wasn't in MS Word 2.1, and <i>that</i> ran fine on a 286, and fitted on a Floppy disk.

<i>Some</i> software will require faster hardware, like decent voice recognition, as someone said...

But on the whole, faster hardware means programmers spend less time optimising their code, because 'it runs OK on my nice new development system, why should I bother?'. If the hardware remained the same, coders would have to write better software.

Companies who are the worst offenders (i.e. Microsoft) should be forced to use nothing more powerful than P133s or something :lol:  . Then Windows XP2 or whatever would run lightning-quick on our up-to-date systems! LOL

Just my thoughts.... :smile:

---
:smile: :tongue: :smile:
January 21, 2003 3:41:09 PM

Quote:
Appearantly you've never written code for a search engine or database. If they didn't meed much better hardware, there wouldn't be a need to devote servers specifically to running them.

Well, actually I have. But I was only searching about 50,000 students on a Pentium 100. Yes, it was a little slow. It took about 45 seconds to complete many searches. But that was without using hash tables or anything, and on a very slow computer. Maybe it also had to do with nothing running in the background. I do realize that it does take servers to do big searches, but that depends mostly on what it is searching. If you are just searching through clipart, or words in a thesaurus on your personal computer, you don't need to dedicate a server to those needs. If you were wanting a word processor to search through the Internet like google, then yes, you WOULD need much better hardware, but why not just use the search engines that are already there if you want to search that many things? I also did mention that you didn't need 'much' better hardware for it. I never mentioned that where we were at today was good enough.

I also use a database at work that holds about 80,000 students. We search for people all the time based on major, enrollment, etc. With our old P133's it would generally take about 3-4 seconds. Then with our PIII 500's, it would only take about 1-2 seconds. Of course if you search based on ID#, it comes up immediately, but that is because it used that as its primary key.

Quote:
The speed of the hardware of the typical user is preventing the software from advancing.

That may be true. And I may be wrong with speech recognition. It may need much better hardware. It is just that I have used speech recognition on a P133 and it didn't seem to perform any worse than speech recognition software on my Athlon 1.4GHz. Maybe they are just using less efficient algorithms because it would be too slow to use better ones.

Quote:
Actually, I completely disagree. My Pentium 133 lasted me quite a number of years before I needed to upgrade.

I don't know how that disagrees with my point. I know Pentium 133's lasted a while. If you take the stance of only needing the computer for simple tasks, the P133 may still be useful, after 7 years, but a computer bought a year ago should be useful for those tasks for much longer. If you consider gaming like I was intending then a P133 was obsolete a long time ago and you would probably not consider buying that P133 a year after it was released. Now you can still buy CPU's a year after they are released and play the latest games, and probably still play the latest games for another year. That was my point. You can still disagree if you want, but I just don't see how the comment you made disagreed with my original statement.
Quote:
I think the whole point of this conversation has one fundamental flaw. Most people assume that everyone's 'need' is the same to answer this debate. The problem is, everyone has a different 'need'. What works for one doesn't work for all.

I agree. everyone does have different needs. There will always be people that need the best hardware available to do their work in a timely manner. I was trying to consider 98% of home users in my comments. computers used for technical research and math theory research, and many other applications will need more, but aren't included in home use. Games and video editing were two driving factors for better hardware that I saw. For most games and most video editing, I think that a 4-5 GHz cpu will be sufficient when coupled with a video card twice as fast as a Radeon 9700 Pro to last 10 years. No P133 can play UT2003 well even if you try lowering the effects and reducing the resolution to 640x480 and the P133 isn't even 10 years old.
January 21, 2003 3:44:42 PM

I would just like to add. I know these are mostly all speculations. I was just thinking about it one day and thought that I would make a post. Nothing can be proven until we wait 10 years and actually see what happens. Maybe I will look back at what I posted and think what an idiot I was. Who knows? Anyway, I probably stayed on this topic much longer than I should have.
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January 21, 2003 3:48:45 PM

A couple years ago someone wrote a complet OS with GUI and web browser that would fit on a floppy.

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January 21, 2003 3:59:47 PM

It's not like the kernal with only crucial functions would exceed 100KB.. add a fancy GUI and features and all kinds of crap and you're still well under 1.44MB!

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a b à CPUs
January 21, 2003 4:15:30 PM

Yes but with limitted hardware support, because these days even modem drivers are larger than a floppy!

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January 21, 2003 7:03:15 PM

Just putting in my quick thought--
I don't think upgrades were ever needed. When the 386 was the best there was, did we really notice how long it did to do things? No. Not until the 486 came out and we saw that what we were already doing could be done faster, did we desire an upgrade. I remember playing Descent on a Pentium 75 and it was great. If i were to go back and look at it now (same game, same hardware), i wouldn't think it was so great, would i?

Furthermore, since few people (consumer-wise) buy the fastest thing, there is always faster hardware out there. Just a theory, that i'm sure has been proposed before. :) 

I'm just your average habitual smiler =D
!