What happened the last 10 years

Last Sunday I found something interesting. While I was wondering around the old stuff in our Summer Villa, I accidently found a box with old notebooks. One of the small ones looked somehow familiar. It was my old notebook. On one of the pages I found a list of the parts in my first computer. I read it and smiled because I’ve just received my new PC configuration and it was times better, but not much different.

The old one is with the following configuration:

  • Mother Board: Chaintech 5AGM /w AGP slot(was new technology at the time)
  • CPU: AMD K6-II 266 MHz (note that now its 2.66 GHz app. 10 times faster).
  • Hard Drive: 20 GB, 512 Kbit Cache, 7200 RPM
  • Monitor: KFC 14″ CRT (yes, the Kentucky Fried Chicken used to make monitors back in the days)
  • Video: 3DFx VooDoo Rush 16 MB (the best from the best [at the time])
  • Sound: Creative Sound Blaster 2 channels (one of the first ever to produce polyphonic sound — before was monotone)
  • Modem: 32 Kbit Internet Connection (note that currently we use 2,000 Kbit connections)
  • LAN: 100 MB
  • CD: Teac 16x CDW (I gave around $350 for this baby and now they are around $20 each)
  • and so on, but still this was the best on the market back in 1997-8

I’m writing because I’ve just purchased another “powerful” computer with the following configuration:

  • Motherboard: Intel XXX 2xPCI-E, DDR3 (pretty fast)
  • CPU: Intel Quad Core 2.66 GHz (40 times faster than what I had back in the days)
  • Hard Drive: 750 GB, 32MB Cache, 7200 RPM (more space and cache but same old speed)
  • Monitor: 25.5″ Samsung LCD (well this doesn’t really count but still quite bigger than the old one)
  • Video: NVIDIA GeForce 9800 1,000 MB 3D accelerator (that’s 62.5 times faster)
  • Sound: 7.1 channels (considerable increase in voice quality)
  • Modem: Obsolete
  • LAN: 1GB – (10 times faster)
  • CD: Obsolete, Replaced by DVD and Blue Ray technology.

The funny thing is that compared to the average salaries given back in the days and now, they seem to be considerably at the same pricing range but only the major processing power was increased while the storage IO (input Output) specified by the Hard Drive’s RPM (Rotations Per Minute) speed is exactly the same. The computing power (specified by the CPU – Central Processing Unit) is 40 times faster and the Video Card Memory and Steaming Units are even 62.5 times faster.

Have you wondered why the this special increase in CPU+VIDEO power? Read my PowerPoint Presentation on How Computer Games Changed Personal Computers

It is rather strange to find that if we don’t use our computers for Gaming, and we concentrate on work, including some basic necessities as MP3/Online Radio, and occasional Video/DVD; we don’t need the resources our current computers have. In practice playing DivX video or DVD Video can work with both the old configuration (10 years ago) and today’s version. The same with audio. I’m not sure if you know but the 7.1 channel audio is only if you play 7.1 media – Blue Ray DVDs on highest quality. The regular DVD movies are 6.1, and DivX movies are 2 channels.

The next thing I’m going to say may shock you, so don’t read it if you don’t want to hate yourself.

It takes exactly the same time to copy a file from whatever media you have to your hard drive storage! Yes, if you load a software program, or when the computer boots, its pretty much the same time period it used to take back in the days. That is because the current mass market hard drives are nearly the same performance as 10 years ago. Scientist claim that “Rotating Magnetic Media performance as in Hard Drives can’t be improved due to Mechanical Limits”. That’s why recently the SSD (Solid State Drives) were introduced – they are supposed to be the answer to the “mechanical problem” hdd’s have. Currently the new SSD drives are pretty much the same as a large USB Flash Card storage (as the one we use in our Digital Cameras), but scientists are trying to get it going much faster than the current 83-120 MB per second (note that this is 10 times faster than the standard Hard Drives). This pretty much will shake the world in computing power especially in Web/Internet applications.

Well, you see what Computer Games did to the Personal Computer. Now I’m wondering what will happen when we unleash the Storage (I/O) Performance with the SSDs. I guess we’ll all find out the next few years.

What do you think will be next?