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The Need for Speed

Last response: in CPUs
May 1, 2001 9:13:55 PM

I would like your thoughts on the following topic.

I have owned the following computers in my life (oh the memories)

Sinclair ZX81
Commodore VIC 20
ZX Spectrum
Commodore Amiga
Pentium 100
Pentium II 266
Celeron 400

I have regularly upgraded as I have always required more power as the advances in productivity software, operating systems and games have driven my purchasing. The old Intel machines were always handed around my family as Windows has a certain longevity to it.

I am not a power user, I use office apps and play the odd game. My main concerns are screen real estate and evironmentals (noise, heat, power consumption).

What I am finding for the first time in my life is that I really don't feel the need to upgrade.

I run a 19" monitor 1280*1024 which is beginning to reach the limits of what I can take in visually. The audio from my PC is excellent quality and meets my needs (I do not expect my PC to replace my sound system). I find it very hard to push my CPU at 100% for any extended period of time. I have 128Mb of memory that provides enough real memory to avoid annoying paging most of the time but I will get another 128Mb shortly as it is so cheap.

Other than USB support MS has not given me anything benefical since Windows95(R1) and I do not expect significant functionality increase with XP.

Having said all this I will be buying a new machine, but my reason for buying has changed. I will be buying a 0.13micron machine (not sure which) on the basis that it will be cooler and therefore quieter (ie CPU Fan) and will meet all of my future requirements: voice recognition for writing long reports for work, video editing for family stuff.

I have come to the conclusion that I cannot forsee a requirement to upgrade beyond that. I cannot think of any killer app that I would need to run on my PC, I believe that the future services I require will be provided by ASPs with large servers, not on my desktop.

Am I getting old? Losing my yearning for the extra bit of speed, or are Personal computers starting to reach the limits of the person using them? I have seen in many of the forums staing that 800Mhz is enough, 2-3Ghz 0.13u machines surely must be getting beyond the use of the average user.

I look forward to your responses.

Kiwi in the UK<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by Phelk on 05/06/01 08:20 PM.</EM></FONT></P>

More about : speed

May 1, 2001 9:54:23 PM

Give it a couple of years. I think as a standard ball park number, software lags behind hardware about 2-3 years. In that amount of time you will see a need for a 2+ GHz computer, especially as broadband internet access becomes more readily available I think you will see a lot more graphic type web pages that require a faster computer. Even for office applications, there will be a time when your celeron 400 just plain won't run office applications. It is only a matter of time.
May 1, 2001 10:03:33 PM

Heh...Man you're NO gamer! I just went from 800mhz to1000mhz and from geforce 256 to gefroce 2gts. And let
me tell makes a difference. From DeltaForce LandWarrior to SuperBike20001 I'm getting smoother frame rates at higher resolutions! And when you compete online,
it makes a big difference.

And when even better hrdwr comes out...the games will get turned up another notch to use that power.

I thought I was wrong once, but I was mistaken.
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May 2, 2001 6:50:48 PM


Obviously you are a young lad, only in the last few years has software begun to lag behind hardware. Historically Software has always driven hardware and by thinking the reverse is true highlights the fact that we are reaching a turning point.

Hardware is accelerating beyond the needs of many applications (Solitaire doesn't run faster on a machine with twice my current power), and delivering near the limits of my physical sight & hearing range.

Kiwi in the UK
May 2, 2001 7:08:38 PM

Phelk, I don't know what you consider to be a "young lad" but at any rate it doesn't matter. It is true that software did drive hardware in the past. But I am talking about now. Software does lag behind hardware but I don't think that this means we are at a turning point. It means that hardware is developing faster than software. Take for example windows XP. I read somewhere that min. requirements for this was going to be like a PII 300 with 128 MB of RAM. 2-3 years ago this was a very fast computer. It is true that playing solitaire is not going to be any different on a faster computer....but at the same time, I don't see the software of the future as solitaire.

But then again, after re-thinking this, maybe you are right and there is not going to be a need for a 2+ GHz machine for the average everyday user. I think that faster machines will always have a market (especially in the engineering area), but I guess I don't really see a need to run a word processor faster. Maybe the main driver for a faster computer is going to be the OS that you are running or the games that you are playing? Maybe the future of computers is going to deviate into different markets....meaning for CAD programs there is this computer that you need and for word processing this one is fast enough and for games this one. Any thoughts?
May 2, 2001 8:47:48 PM

~ Take for example windows XP. I read somewhere that min. requirements for this was going to be like a PII 300 with 128 MB of RAM ~

Software is definately lagging behind. The as yet un-released OS (XP) will run on the no longer produced hardware (PII-300)!

~ Maybe there is not going to be a need for a 2+ GHz machine for the average everyday user. I think that faster machines will always have a market (especially in the engineering area) ~

The CPU business seems to be like the car engine business for the first couple of decades innovation was awesome and it was all about getting more horse power (more Mhz/Ghz). Now days it is all about refinement & energy efficiency ( smaller footprint, lower voltage, cooler & quieter running) except for the high end Formula 1 etc (like th engineering area).

~ Maybe the future of computers is going to deviate into different markets ~

I currently drive a family car
- 2.0 litre, 4 door.
I think I will also settle on a family computer
- 2.0 Ghz, 4 dimms (say 1Gb)

I do see a real deviation I expect in the near term to have a few computers.

1) A games machine (Xbox or Sony type, probably part of the home entertainment system)
2) A general workstation (video, scanning, office apps, communications, surfing, odds & sods)
3) A utility server (internet connections, backups, firewall, automated house functions)
4) Mobile device (3G phone with MANY features)

I expect all of these to share resources, but to be fairly independant systems purchased seperately.

Is this a realistic future? Is the CPU industry about to diverge? Has it already?
- Power (P4,T-Bird)
- Budget (Celeron, Duron)
- GPU (Nvidia, Radeon)

Kiwi in the UK
May 2, 2001 9:29:45 PM

sticking with the car analogy (which I like by the way), I drive one car and use that car for everything. Could it be that near term future we will see one main computer in a household (kind of like a mainframe) and this computer attaches to everything (phone, fridge, internet, etc) and basically controls everything. That would be kind of long as it doesn't run Windows as its OS.
May 3, 2001 10:30:10 AM

i would be forced to agree. especially about windows

is this reality... i thought it would more realistic.
a b à CPUs
May 3, 2001 12:41:31 PM

Just my 2 cents worth.. The applications you mention ie voice recognition and video editing are exactly the things which cry out for more processing power than is currently available. I am using Dragon (an old copy) and it could definately do with some better (more complex ??) algorithms and MPEG4 encoding is very slow.

I agree you should wait for 0.13 Micron Either Northwood or
AMD's offering (Palamino I think but my brain is getting soggy).
May 3, 2001 12:54:10 PM

From what I recall (and we all know clock rate isn't everything) pundits were claiming 10Ghz cpus as the break point for true voice recognition systems (i.e. no keyboard required).

We'll see in another 3 or 4 years I expect...

-* This Space For Rent *-
email for application details
a b à CPUs
May 3, 2001 3:20:11 PM

To only have a Celery 400 right now..

seems extremely outdated to me.

--call it what you wish, with this machine I can make mercury flow in 3 directions at once--
May 3, 2001 5:00:12 PM

Man You guys are kidding me right?? 1000mhz and geforce 2 gts and I STILL can't run SuperBike2001 at 1600x1280. 1280 x 1024 yes, But for online play u need 50 FPS or better to really be competitive. All the of the high end games use up every shred of performance the hdwr can dish out right now. I know the hi-res stuff makes the graphics card become the bottle neck. So, if I change my res to 640x480 in LandWarrior then I'm very fast, (and grainy) probably 90 FPS because the CPU has room to run. And 90 FPS is what I need for maximum game flow. But if the program gcan go to 1040x768 I want it....but not if the FPS drops below 50FPS.
I need MORE POWER hehehehe.

I thought I was wrong once, but I was mistaken.
May 3, 2001 5:47:42 PM

Games are about the only thing that can take advantage of fast computers these days, but games represent a very minor part of the computer market as a whole. There are a few software programs that will take advantage of hardware, but very few. It is true that the software market as a whole lags behind hardware.
May 3, 2001 6:05:02 PM

"Other than USB support MS has not given me anything benefical since Windows95(R1) and I do not expect significant functionality increase with XP."

One thing that is very noticable... XP (being an NT kernel Based OS) will be a heck of a lot more stable than any 9x (95,98,ME) OS ever was. I was amazed when I got Win2k.... I go for months running 24/7 now with no problems whatsoever. And one thing to the point of XP vs 95 that you might be interested in... In Win95, there is no "idle thread" so whenever the CPU isn't working in a program, it is in busy loops that continue to use power, and generate unnecessary heat. NT-based OSes, however actually shut down parts of the CPU that aren't being used (running a HLT instruction on the idle thread, rather than "busy work"). It is true that you can get software that will do this in 95, but I'd much rather have it built into the OS.

May 3, 2001 6:08:35 PM

"Solitaire doesn't run faster on a machine with twice my current power"

The ending animation does ;)  Unless you have the version that comes with Win2k and (I assume) ME.... They *finally* put some kind of a timer on it.

May 3, 2001 6:16:47 PM

"...I guess I don't really see a need to run a word processor faster."

In the future, word proccessing through the keyboard may be a thing of the past....
Think Voice recognition... once it gets good enough, I'm sure it will replace keyboards for most purposes. This may be many years away, but it will definately benefit from a really fast CPU/Memory Bandwidth.
Then there are holographic displays in the works...
The point is, saying things like that is like what Bill Gates said about 640k being "all anyone will ever need." At the present time, it is hard to even conceive what we will need the power for, but as the hardware becomes more advanced, ppl will find a way to use all that power.

<P ID="edit"><FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by Fltsimbuff on 05/03/01 02:31 PM.</EM></FONT></P>
May 3, 2001 6:23:09 PM

Northwood will power my next system. Tons of power. Double pumped ALU also 512kb L2 cache. I love it.

2ghz northwood = 4ghz ALU unit

The only nice Intel guy.
May 3, 2001 6:28:14 PM

Yeah.... I have an old celery 500, and the thing is slow as heck.... My I did an MP3 encoding test one day, and it took More than twice as long to encode a file as my Duron 700MHz. The thing won't even burn CDs at a decent speed without making a coaster (I realize there are other factors involved, but specifically, decoding MP3s onto a CD at the same time just make it choke). My Duron can handle playing MP3s, and and casual use while Burning at the Max 10X speed of the same Burner... I still like that graphic of a Celeron CPU on the Guillantine....

May 3, 2001 6:56:52 PM

I agree that we will find uses for the power, but I don't think voice recognition will ever replace word processing by hand. Too many people stutter and say "umm" when they talk. Not to mention it is easier to think a sentance that is grammitically correct and then type it as opposed to just saying it. Plus, can you imagine walking around the office with everyone at the same time talking to their computers. That would be a mess.
a b à CPUs
May 4, 2001 5:49:29 PM

I'm a network administrator, and I've been in the field for a few years now. Everybody knows that Intel and AMD have 1ghz and up processors for gamers. I'm not really a gamer, but walk into any business office, heck walk into a fortune 500 office, I guarantee that "none" of them are running anything remotely close to a 1ghz.

The only logical explanation for these fast CPU's is for gamers.

It will take at least 10 years for the internet to require that kind of power. The average consumer can't afford broadband access, and the kind of power your talking about requires alot more then a cable modem.

I bought a pentium once!
Everybody makes mistakes..
May 6, 2001 8:24:06 PM

I only drive one car as it is all I can reasonably afford. If cars cost the same as computers, I would have a family car (wagon with a bit of go and lots of space) and a little sports car (With just enough room for the golf clubs!).

Actually the "one main computer in a household (kind of like a mainframe) and this computer attaches to everything (phone, fridge, internet, etc) and basically controls everything." sounds like something I came across ... Personal Server

It's not quite a mainframe but it's a good start, basically it is a firewall/proxy & file server but it could do so much more, managing all the devices in the home or provide managed access so service providers can enter the home on your terms. Oh, and BTW it doesn't run Windows! It's a Linux server, so in a few years time it will be a 64-bit beast with massive storage and huge memory for under USD 1,000. It would also be powerful enough to run thin devices like Cytrix Windows Terminals or SunRay (Solaris) devices.

This home 'power' server is the technology required to really get things like the Fridge with a screen on the front up and running.

Now I know what I want...
- A sports car (High-End Gamers Machine)
- Multiple general purpose cars (Thin clients) In the study, on the fridge, part of the TV.
- A big garage (Personal Power Server)
- A five lane motorway (Broadband net access)

Hmmm, I wonder what the insurance premiums are for driving a 'Windows' car?

Kiwi in the UK
May 6, 2001 8:56:47 PM

yea, you're right in to a degree.
with the prices as they are currently, there is no reason to buy the slow systems.
bossman had in the budget $1450 for new computer systems, 42 PC's for the teachers. We need these to last at least 3 years. We just orders 42 AMD Tbird 1Ghz, TNT2 8 or 16, don't remember, DVD, etc.
these systems should last us well over the 3 years planned, and then we have far more upgrading headroom than we did with any of our previous systems.

why, oh WHY, is the world run by morons?
May 7, 2001 12:44:27 AM

careful man!
i got a p2-300... and its a speeeeed machine LOL
i even play unreal tournament on it!
and cool? does the processor run cool? think my fan stopped for a day cauz of a loose connection and i didnt notice cept it was quieter
bwooo haa haa haa

"Don't be too proud of this technological terror you have created"~Darth Vader, Star wars
May 7, 2001 2:00:18 AM

Not replying to anyone in particular:

First off, who really cares so much about the CPU? I'm waiting for faster i/o speeds. I read an article a year ago about a new cd that the military has been using that stores terrabytes of info. They were hoping to have it in the consumer market within a couple years. That's what I'm talking about! Lets make computers practical by just having all your programs and files on one cd.

I want faster hard drive speeds. I can't stand how slow mine is. Even ultra 100 is no big deal. We need data transfer speeds in the gigabytes per second to make computers practical in our everyday, everything lives. Can you imagine having your computer hooked into your house only to have it be "loading". We need data transfer speeds to be near instantaneous. We can't worry about little johnny killing the bandwidth of the refrigerator because he's playing diablo 17 with 45 of his friends. The washing machine can't stop just because too much is going on.

Now I do care about cpu speeds. But I think other components are lagging behind. We still use slow floppy drives and cd-rom drives instead of dvd, so we really aren't pushing any limits at all in my opinion. I remember when SCSI was a big deal. I never understood this since Mac had been using it since day one. Nonetheless even today we use IDE instead of scsi, firewire or usb since they just don't make it cheap enough. They don't make it cheap since there isn't a big enough demand. And there is no large demand since we don't push the limits...

Voice recognition is in its infancy as is virtual reality for example. I saw online that the requirements for todays VR machines (the same ones that have been around for many years and haven't changed) was around a Pentium 133. Pretty pathetic. Voice recognition is so damn slow that it's not even worth it. Etc Etc...

<font color=red>Did you ever wonder WHY aliens only abduct idiots?</font color=red>