Linked by Universal Mind on Fri 6th Aug 2010 16:16 UTC
Apple The "Macs are too expensive" argument is one of the most tiresome and long-lived flamewars in internet history. Obviously, Apple makes a premium product and charges premium prices, and you can always find a computer from another vendor that seems to match or exceed specs that costs less. But if you look at Apple's Mac Pro line, and compare it not so much to other vendors, but to the past lineup of Mac Pros, you discover some very unpleasant truths that help explain why Apple is enjoying record earnings for their Mac line, but doing so to the detriment of some its most loyal and valuable customers.
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RE[2]: Computing has changed
by james_parker on Fri 6th Aug 2010 20:48 UTC in reply to "RE: Computing has changed"
james_parker
Member since:
2005-06-29

Sorry, computing will be CPU-bound for the next decade.


I must disagree. Computing is not really CPU-bound; rather it is main-memory (MM) speed bound. Nearly every other technology used in computers has increased in speed over the last 10-20 years by at least an order of magnitude more than MM.

The "hack" that has been used to ameliorate this problem is to increase the amount of cache available, as well as the number of cache levels. Managing this cache efficiently and correctly is one of the biggest problems faced in CPU/system design today, and it still wreaks havoc with the performance of certain types of software (since the cache hit ratio can dramatically affect performance).

If/when there is a commercially available breakthrough in MM speed (MRAM, memristor-based RAM, etc.), low-level computer architecture will change dramatically, as will programming techniques.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[3]: Computing has changed
by TheGZeus on Sat 7th Aug 2010 16:17 in reply to "RE[2]: Computing has changed"
TheGZeus Member since:
2010-05-19

That's true, but only relevant once Windows is no longer the dominant 'operating system'.
OSX isn't gonna be ported that fast, either.

Do you really think these multi-billion-dollar code bases are going to be re-written in 10 years? I know they could be, but these companies will not.

If I thought 10 years was enough for FOSS to overtake the competition, I'd agree with you, but I don't think it will.

Will supercomputer and hobby-kit users be underwhelmed with standard CPU hardware in 10 years? Yeah. I doubt I'll be running any x86 hardware in 10 years. That said, I'm pretty sure most people still will be.

Reply Parent Score: 1

james_parker Member since:
2005-06-29

That's true, but only relevant once Windows is no longer the dominant 'operating system'.
OSX isn't gonna be ported that fast, either.

Do you really think these multi-billion-dollar code bases are going to be re-written in 10 years? I know they could be, but these companies will not.


I suspect that the question of relevance refers to my statement:

If/when there is a commercially available breakthrough in MM speed ([...]), low-level computer architecture will change dramatically, as will programming techniques.


If so, I don't mean to imply that such upgrades couldn't be largely backward compatible. Most of the architecture changes would be in areas such as the cache management and MMU (i.e., the "northbridge"). Even the OS, other than managing TLBs scarcely touches this; it might even be possible to make these changes wholly invisible; it may be worthwhile to provide some kernel patching, however.

The changes in programming techniques would largely be simplifications; some software needs to be somewhat cache aware to perform adequately; the need for this would largely or entirely go away.

When 64-bit architecture, the "NX" bit, DDR3, multiple CPUs and virtualization technology were each introduced, Windows, OSX and other Operating Systems continued to operate, albeit with patches and upgrades to support new hardware. This could easily be the same type of upgrade -- although I can virtually guarantee that it would require brand new CPU sockets on our motherboards.

Reply Parent Score: 1