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Author Topic: My Perfect Computer
Ian Price
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1714
From: Denver, CO
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 10-18-2000 12:47 AM      Profile for Ian Price   Email Ian Price   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
This topic is all Ken Fong’s fault.

My perfect computer:

The operating system would be invisible.
It would look like the Apple G4 Cube.
It would use something like the Apple 22” Cinema display but would only cost $400.00 per monitor.
It would support up to 3 monitors.
The connection would be digital, like the new Apple Cinema display.
It would support other screens of ever increasing dimensions as long as they have the same connector.
The connections would be something you could make at home like RG6 or CAT5 wire.
The sound output would be Dolby Digital and DTS.
The “hard drive” would be non-volatile RAM.
The “operating system” would be on an E-PROM so the boot-up is instant.
The computer wouldn’t care if it were left on 400 days a year and 8 days a week. In other words, the buffer and temp files wouldn’t clog it up and need the computer to be turned off to clear them.
The “hard drive” would be large enough for all of my music and 50 hours of stored television, like the Replay TV box.
The DVD would record.
It would contain my satellite receiver.
The keyboard would be wireless.
Although it would have a remote mouse, it would also be voice activated.
It would be able to have remote monitors and speakers much like a Bose sound system.
It would be my phone system, and voice calls would be free.
Broadband would be able to transmit proper video signals.
My digital camera, cell phone and personal sound system would be integrated into my glasses, wirelessly. And they wouldn’t weigh much.

And of course, I wouldn’t need my glasses to correct my vision.

What would your's be like?

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Brad Miller
Administrator

Posts: 17589
From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99


 - posted 10-18-2000 02:02 AM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
Hey Ian, wait about 9 months to a year and that stuff just might become a reality!

It's amazing just how fast a top of the line computer system is outdated these days. Your kids will laugh at you for wanting a dream system "so pathetic and slow" as I'm sure they will call it.


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Randy Stankey
Film God

Posts: 6353
From: Erie, Pennsylvania
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 10-18-2000 09:56 AM      Profile for Randy Stankey   Email Randy Stankey   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I got my iMacDV @ 400 Mhz and litterally two weeks later they had the 500Mhz on the market!

I figure they'll be running at a GIG sometime soon!

I'm not too upset, though. My 400 is fater than most people's 500's. When I get to the point where I think it's too slow I'll buy the upgrade chip and install it myself.

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Jason Burroughs
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 654
From: Allen, TX
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 10-18-2000 11:56 AM      Profile for Jason Burroughs   Email Jason Burroughs   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Within the next year or so, both Intel and AMD plan to announce processor speeds ot 2-3Ghz, and bus speeds increasing from the 100-133Mhz we see now to the 400-600Mhz range.
AMD also plans to lanuch in to the workstation/server marked with its upcomming Athalon Ultra allowing for multiple processors and increased cache.

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Dave Cutler
Master Film Handler

Posts: 277
From: Centennial, CO
Registered: Jun 2000


 - posted 10-18-2000 01:40 PM      Profile for Dave Cutler   Email Dave Cutler   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Randy, the gigahertz barrier has already been passed. Intel's current top processor 1.13 GHz, and AMD has hit 1.2 GHz. They are both on the market right now.

And yes they will be obsolete shortly, Intel already test a new chip earlier this year and it was clocking 1.5GHz, although they hadn't turned on all the juice at that time. It should run much faster by the time they fully test it.

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Scott Norwood
Film God

Posts: 7851
From: Boston, MA. USA (1774.21 miles northeast of Dallas)
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 10-18-2000 02:15 PM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Yeah, but you can't compare a Mac (PowerPC) to a PC (Intel x86) with respect to clock speed. Clock speed is a pretty meaningless comparison unless you're dealing with two processors of the same type. A 100MHz 486 isn't comparable to a 100Mhz Pentium. Similarly, a 400Mhz UltraSPARC isn't comprable to a 400MHz PII or pIII or Alpha, etc.

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Evans A Criswell
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1579
From: Huntsville, AL, USA
Registered: Mar 2000


 - posted 10-18-2000 02:32 PM      Profile for Evans A Criswell   Author's Homepage   Email Evans A Criswell   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Y'all are right about computers becoming obsolete quickly. It's funny how the equipment keeps improving speed-wise but the theory of computing hasn't changed all that much lately. We can do the same old things faster.

Look at the clock speeds found in most PCs (near top of the line) in common use each year:

1981: 4.77 MHz
1984: 6 MHz
1986: 8 Mhz
1988: 12 MHz
1989: 33 MHz
1991: 50 MHz
1992: 66 MHz
1994: 100 MHz
1996: 200 MHz
1997: 266 MHz
1998: 400 MHz
1999: 600 MHz
2000: 1000 MHz

But, on the other hand, take the topic of formal languages and automata theory. Look at the 1969 and 1979 editions of a standard textbook, such as the ones by Hopcroft and Ullman, and a lot of the material is the same. I took a class in 1995 and we used the 1979 edition. It just hasn't changed much. Look at NP-completeness. We used a 1979 book for a class on this topic in 1999! It seems the theory concerning algorithms in general, and what we can and cannot do efficiently (in polynomial time), or at all has changed very little in the past 20 or so years. In fact, some of that theory was in place in the 1930s and 1940s before modern computers were even being built.

I have a coworker that has many ideas similar to the ones in the list that started this thread (operating system being invisible and getting rid of filesystems and hiding implementation details from the user). I just don't think a lot of the things will ever happen. I am currently working on a Ph.D. in computer science (I have an M.S. degree in computer science and a B.S. in mathematics). For a lot of things to happen, I think there need to be some advances in the underlying theory of computing. Speed is nice, but I have seen many cases where improving the algorithm (if possible) can make a program run at acceptable speed even on a slow computer. Faster computers have caused software developers to get lazy, and the code they write to become larger and more "bloated", memory hungry, and disks space hungry than ever before. Until the focus is back on efficiency and better algorithms, the trend will continue.

Operating systems have changed quite a bit during the past 15 years. I've used everything from old second-generation operating systems like MVS for IBM mainframes to VMS (VAX systems) to UNIX (many platforms) to DOS, OS/2, and Windows for PCs. I tended to like UNIX the best, although you have to run Windows to be able to run the most popular software.

I have a 933 MHz Pentium III here with Wondows 2000 and it does most things I want to do really well, but this machine cannot do multiple things at once very well without killing the user interface response time. Silicon Graphics workstations running UNIX were much better at that (running background jobs without killing performance for foreground jobs). Although Winodws 2000 is great, there will always be device driver pains and functionality that you have to add by installing 3rd-party software. I just the shell in Windows 2000 were a full-featured UNIX shell. I really wish Windows 2000 had UNIX underneath supporting it. It would be a much better system if it did.

Well, I guess I've yakked enough for now.

Evans

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Scott Norwood
Film God

Posts: 7851
From: Boston, MA. USA (1774.21 miles northeast of Dallas)
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 10-18-2000 02:47 PM      Profile for Scott Norwood   Author's Homepage   Email Scott Norwood   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
There actually are some clones of Unix shells (bash and csh, at least) that run on Win32, and which give the user access to most of the standard GNU tools (gcc, gdb, etc.) in a Unix-like environment. I suppose that it's a nice concept in theory, but all this stuff seemed pretty half-assed to me, since this does nothing to improve the overall stability of the underlying OS and since a lot of the command-line tools that would be useful for scripting don't exist in NT (e.g. you can't write a script that adds new users by appending lines to /etc/passwd, and so forth). As far as I'm concerned, every OS ought to have a full command-line interface to every tool, regardless of whatever GUI might be slapped on top of it. There are just too many situations where one needs to access a machine remotely or automate a process using scripts for the command-line interface to be ignored; GUIs are nice, but they suck over low-bandwidth connections and for repetitive tasks.

As for multitasking, I've been pretty impressed by how much performance is gained by adding a second processor. This SS20 that I'm typing on now felt pretty slow with a single 50Mhz processor; when I added a second 50Mhz processor, it became amazingly zippy; it can easily deal with me compiling something, listening to MP3 files, formatting something with LaTeX and looking at web pages all at once. I don't know if Win2k handles multiple processors as well as Solaris (I tend to doubt it), but it would be interesting to see how much the performance improves.

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Evans A Criswell
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1579
From: Huntsville, AL, USA
Registered: Mar 2000


 - posted 10-19-2000 01:41 PM      Profile for Evans A Criswell   Author's Homepage   Email Evans A Criswell   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Scott, you're right about the second processor helping a lot with multitasking. In our research center, we have a couple of machines that have two 400MHz Pentium III equivalents running NT. The machine in my office is a 933 MhZ Pentium III. When I run a job in the background, like untarring or ungzipping a 75 megabyte SSM/I data file, my 933 MHz machine becomes practically unusable for anything else, but the dual processor 400MHz seems unaffected by it and remains usable and responsive.

We have, for years, been using multiprocessor SGI servers, one of which has 8 CPUs, which is heavily used, but remains very responsive and never seems to get bogged down. (This particular machine runs IRIX, which is SGI's UNIX). I've always found it interesting that IRIX machines seem to remain responsive with a backgound task running, even if the machine has only one CPU. Single processor PCs tend to not handle background processing well at all without seriously impacting the response of the GUI.

Evans


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Randy Stankey
Film God

Posts: 6353
From: Erie, Pennsylvania
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 10-19-2000 03:13 PM      Profile for Randy Stankey   Email Randy Stankey   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
You're right about comapring processors.
G3's are better
I tell you if I had the cash I'd be getting one of those dual G4's they're comming out with. (A supercomputer on your desk!)

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Sean M. Grimes
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 247
From: Lunenburg, MA
Registered: Apr 2000


 - posted 10-20-2000 03:46 AM      Profile for Sean M. Grimes   Author's Homepage   Email Sean M. Grimes   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Ahhh screw it. I love my pentium II mmx (the bes damn chip intel has made cost wise since the 80286 hahaha just joking) with 164 megs of ram and a ten gig hard drive running through an "ultra ata 66" ide interface. The 16 meg video cards for my dual monitor setup that I picked up for fourty bucks a piece rock ass. And yes I run Win 98. Just load her up with fast ram and watch your file swap amount and god bless, it runs faster and waay more reliable then my friends 733 amd. Also if you use win 98 download Mem Turbo www.memturbo.com (it really works wonders for Win 98!!) My computer has been stable now for eight days straight.


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Randy Stankey
Film God

Posts: 6353
From: Erie, Pennsylvania
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 10-20-2000 07:35 PM      Profile for Randy Stankey   Email Randy Stankey   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
One question...

What does MMX actually do?

It took me months to find out. The only answers I could get was, "It speeds up graphics..."

And, the answer is...

MMX shuts down the floating point processor and turns it over to graphics processing. Problem is that you can't do floating point math while MMX is on. You can only do integer math.

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Tom Kroening
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 214
From: Janesville, WI USA
Registered: Oct 1999


 - posted 10-22-2000 01:57 PM      Profile for Tom Kroening   Email Tom Kroening   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
/me still loves his g4/500. Its not the MP version but it does the job for me! It emulates win2000 at very usable speeds : P While im on the subject of emulation, Playstation, SNES, and n64 are also speedy. So far, mac osX public beta is great! When i get sick of playing around in the aqua UI i just open a unix terminal window. Its FINALLY a mac OS that has multitasking!!! i.e. when you hold down the mouse it doesn't hault your computer. I also love how the whole side panal just flips down.

My dream machine would be a bigger tower then this, bays and slots everywhere. 2 GB of ram, and an 80 GB raid array level 1 (stripping). Either ultra ATA 66 or Ultra scsi. Support for 3 monitors: a flat panel display, one of those sony tv glasses you can wear, and a LCD projector. Sound would be dolby digital via RCA jacks that go to my reciever. Wireless radio keyboard (not IR). That way if you have the tv glasses on you can use your computer in any room of your house. processor would be a 1ghz dual g5 or something. OS would be MacOSX. Net connection would be a full OC12 hooked into the comps built in gigibit ethernet. *droool* maybe a 32x/52x DVD-RAM. I could go on and on but ill stop here! I already have a computer loan to pay off so no more dreaming for a while

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Randy Stankey
Film God

Posts: 6353
From: Erie, Pennsylvania
Registered: Jun 99


 - posted 10-22-2000 06:30 PM      Profile for Randy Stankey   Email Randy Stankey   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
So, I've wondered about OS X.
Usually "Beta" = "Bugs" so I didn't bother with it.
Is it worth the $25 just to get a beta?

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Tom Kroening
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 214
From: Janesville, WI USA
Registered: Oct 1999


 - posted 10-23-2000 12:43 AM      Profile for Tom Kroening   Email Tom Kroening   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Well... it kinda is and kinda isnt. I'll be honest, I downloaded it (email me if you'd like a copy). Its got its bugs (hence the beta version). You really can't realistically use it, its more of just a toy. The passwd file isn't encrypted (or so i hear) so its not even secure right now. If you have the time and an extra hard drive partion, go for it. I don't even use X right now since classic is so slow. Email me if you'd like more details.

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