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PC progress slowing?

Just read this article, about how hard drive progress may slow down.

http://news.com.com/2100-1008_3-5061923.html?tag=fd_top

Also I read something that says Intel is slowing down its progress.  They've been around 3 GHz for quite awhile now.  One, because of less competition from AMD, and also because of decreased demand.  Most software no longer needs that much CPU power.  Microsoft has not significantly bloated its operating system to justify increased upgrades.  I've been running Windows 2000 on a Duron 800 and it's perfectly fine.

Any other good articles relating this?  I guess this is why companies like Microsoft and Intel are concentrating on non-PC technologies like home media and wireless networking.

Andy
Monday, August 11, 2003

Longhorn should solve that problem.

John Rosenberg
Monday, August 11, 2003

> One, because of less competition from AMD

This is not true. Athlon XP is very competitive with the P4.

Instead of a P4 2-2.5 GHz, you can get an AMD Athlon XP 2400+ which performs better, and is a lot cheaper.

At the high end of the market, you can get an AMD Athlon XP which runs at maybe 96-97% of the speed, and still is a lot cheaper.

There is also the AMD Athlon MP which allows multiprocessing, and the AMD Opteron which is a fast 64-bit CPU with multiprocessing support.

Also, Athlon XP / MP and Opteron are rock-stable.

There are several supercomputers built using many Athlon XP or MP processors.

AMD is giving Intel a lot of competition - in fact, the AMD products are more viable on the high-end than ever!

B.J. Thunderstone
Monday, August 11, 2003

"> One, because of less competition from AMD

This is not true. Athlon XP is very competitive with the P4."

There's more to competition than that. I think AMD blew it with the cracked core and overheating issues - they handed the FUD to Intel and Intel didn't even have to do anything with it; the consumer market did the broadcasting themselves.

I know the cracked core thing has kept *me* away from AMD for a long time...

Philo

Philo
Monday, August 11, 2003

It's no longer about technology. Computers are now an appliance in general use by the majority of households. Joe Sixpack has no need to upgrade either his CPU or disk more than every 5 years or so.

Once the CPU speeds got above 500Mhz they were fast enough to run 99% of what people need it for within the annoyance time. That means if IE and Word can open within a few seconds the computer is still "good enough".

And disk space once it got up to 20 Gb was never going to fill up for the vast majority of users. Memory too. 64Mb was rather limiting but once most folks had 128, "good enough".

The industry was still geared up for an infinite growth curve when the market peaked two or three years ago. It's not ever going back to the growth rate seen in the 90s.

old_timer
Monday, August 11, 2003

BJ, I agree with your points, but the idea is that Intel has not pushed past 3.2 GHz very aggressively, since AMD is still behind in that area.  I agree that AMD can be a better value in many circumstances.

Not that clock speed is everything of course, but the top P4's are still faster than the top AMDs.  This is in contrast to a year or two ago when AMD seemed to have the lead, or at least they were neck-in-neck.

Regarding longhorn, I think that is still a ways off (2006?).  That could provide a push for hardware sales if Microsoft aims high on the minimum spec, but we've had all this time (2001-2005 roughly) where the upgrades have slowed.  I'm not complaining, but it's interesting to see how the PC market has matured.

I think the thing is now that most major applications have reached maturity.  Like in another thread -- what is really better about the latest MSOffice vs. Office 97?  Not that much.  Same thing with apps like Photoshop and Illustrator, etc.  Pretty much all that you'd want to do, you can do now.  And they have usable interfaces for their target audience.

It seems like most of the other things you would want to do with a computer involve AI type stuff, where the problem is not the CPU/memory/disk speed, but rather the algorithms.

Maybe another big leap would be to reach the elusive goal of having "non-programmers" write programs.  Better programming tools could cut costs for a lot of companies.  It seems like this eats up a lot of PC power, since VS.NET is probably the largest and most CPU/memory/disk hungry application I've ever used.

Andy
Monday, August 11, 2003

> BJ, I agree with your points, but the idea is
> that Intel has not pushed past 3.2 GHz very
>  aggressively, since AMD is still behind in that
> area.

AFAIK in the last few months Intel has pushed the FSB speed, not the core speed.

The CPU core is already very fast, and is throttled by the FSB, which needs to be faster.


> Not that clock speed is everything of
> course, but the top P4's are still faster
> than the top AMDs.  This is in contrast
> to a year or two ago when AMD seemed
> to have the lead

Yes, but compared to the times of AMD K6-2 vs. Pentium II, I think that AMD is a lot more competitive.

I say GO AMD! :)

B.J. Thunderstone
Monday, August 11, 2003

The damn problem is not that the drives don't grow enough.  The problem is that the access times grow at a snails pace in comparison to density. 

In five years we'll have hard drives so damn big it will take a month the read the damn thing.  We need to quit running a needle over a record here folks.  Let's see we have digital computer memory and mechanical storage.  That is not a good combination.  We need cheap solid state drives yesterday.

Mike
Monday, August 11, 2003

Motorola's coming out with persistent memory that's about as fast as DRAM with unlimited re-writes. It'll probably be too expensive at first to totally replace hard drives, but I think you'll be seeing another level of caching going on (between hard drive and faster main main memory where your most commonly used files are stored).

I suppose any persistant memory that you can access by address would be better than hard drives... anyone know the cost per megabyte for Flash?

JbR
Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Pricewatch shows a street price of ~ $200/GB for CompactFlash. One thing to note, though, is that CompactFlash is actually sorta slow compared to the other (significantly more expensive) solid state memory technologies. However, having 512MB or 1GB of very small, very portable storage is not a bad thing. I bet for most people who takes things back and forth to work, that's a decent deal.

I have a 5-in-1 card reader in my PC. Cost me $25, sits in a 3.5" drive bay, and hooks up internally via USB. Very nice. Each media slot is individually addressable (four drive letters; SD & MMC share a slot) so you can copy from media to media.

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Tuesday, August 12, 2003

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