Linked by Hadrien Grasland on Sat 19th Feb 2011 10:24 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems Okay, source material is more than 10 years old so this is not exactly news, but I think it's interesting anyway. This BeOS promotional video is a good reminder of how powerful modern hardware truly is, what hardware should be needed for light computer use, and how laughable modern desktop&mobile OSs are as far as performance is concerned. Here are part 1 and part 2 on YouTube.
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It's the software and applications
by joshv on Sat 19th Feb 2011 11:05 UTC
joshv
Member since:
2006-03-18

Yeah and? I remember by W2K box with 128MB or RAM and a single Pentium being pretty darned fast. Yes, it could play two videos at once and still word process. But that wasn't massively compressed 1080p video.

What's changed are the applications. A single H.264 1080p video stream would crush the BeBox. A simple flash app would crawl (I regularly see flash apps use more RAM than that machine has). Even native apps these days are massive memory pigs, just sort your task manager by memory usage and see.

So it's not just Vista, it's the entire application stack using more compute resources, because they are available.

I for one am happy I don't still live in the days where I can only watch two postage stamp sized videos at once and use half my 3GB hard disk to store them.

Reply Score: 6

Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

Well, to start with, can you imagine how long an OS with modern power management *and* very low CPU usage could make a computer last on battery ?

It's a known fact that computationally expensive apps always result in a battery life hit.

Reply Parent Score: 2

Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

Of course, the apps would have to follow for this to work. But there's plenty of work to be done in the basic set of applications bundled in modern OSs already (see how Windows 7's backup tool can make mere MP3 playback drop frames on modern machines)

Reply Parent Score: 1

OSbunny Member since:
2009-05-23

Yes I agree. Last year I switched from a pentium 4 with 512MB RAM to a core2duo with 4GB RAM. My p4 would slow to a crawl when I had a lot of tabs open in Firefox. Once I switched to the newer PC I understood exactly why. Firefox alone takes up about 512MB of RAM!

Reply Parent Score: 1

Nth_Man Member since:
2010-05-16

Firefox alone takes up about 512MB of RAM!

How do you know that?

Reply Parent Score: 1

phoenix Member since:
2005-07-11

Simply bumping the RAM in the P4 system to 4 GB would have sped things up *a lot*.

It's amazing how many people replace perfectly working systems with new systems, when all they really need is a RAM upgrade. I see this a lot at work. People complain about a slow Windows XP system and put in a PO for a new computer. While working on something else, I notice they only have 512 MB of RAM, so I bump it up to 2 GB for them. They think they have a brand new PC!!

The most important item in a PC is the amount of RAM. Don't skimp on it. Just because the OS lists "512 MB RAM minimum" doesn't mean you can actually use the system for anything with only 512 MB RAM installed.

Reply Parent Score: 4

Doc Pain Member since:
2006-10-08

Yeah and? I remember by W2K box with 128MB or RAM and a single Pentium being pretty darned fast. Yes, it could play two videos at once and still word process.


It seems to be a fact that the relation between hardware resources (what's provided) and the software requirements (what's spent) both increases. As a result, the overall average general usage speed keeps constant - a simple mathematical conclusion: numerator and denominator increasing similarly. The result of the equation is therefore constant.

The old computers traditionally boot and run as fast as the "modern" ones do. Imagine a 386 with 80 MB disk, 2 MB RAM and GeoWorks Ensemble. It would even boot faster than a modern plentycore machine with tenmelonhundred GHz and endless hard disks. This may be interesting for at least half of today's uses: People still treat their monster-PCs as worse typewriters. :-)

What's changed are the applications.


Fully agree. Applications tend to go the same way as operating systems do, where being efficient and fast is not in scope of development, as resources are present and can be utilized - and "overfully" used, which is the reason for people to buy a new PC. This continuous renewal of hardware and software keeps the market machinery running, but also benefits technical development (hopefully).

A single H.264 1080p video stream would crush the BeBox. A simple flash app would crawl (I regularly see flash apps use more RAM than that machine has).


The question that arises is if those "advanced" (I'll explain the quotes right away) applications do justify their requirements by what they provide. If you need 2 GHz and more to play a postage stamp sized video with crappy sound, is this justified? Is it an advanced use to abuse "Flash" for what HTML is intended? You know, many "advanced" and "modern" web designers treat "Flash" as a replacemnt for HTML (whole site navigation and display of static text), as well as a replacement for animated GIFs (for navigation, attention gaining and advertising purposes).

Many things that have been possible in the past with less resources do require more resources today, as operating system and the corresponding applications require it. But of course upcoming popular services make people use them, and in order to participate, certain requirements have to be fulfilled by the end users. Here the circle closes.

So it's not just Vista, it's the entire application stack using more compute resources, because they are available.


Although I feel a bit sad about it, I have to agree again. What you are describing applies to many Linux distributions also. Of course, everyone wants to participate on the new ability modern hardware offers. But this is traditionally done through layers of layers of abstraction and libraries. Those are often the parts of software that raise the requirements of specific hardware. This is sometimes called bloat, but I've been advised that it is not bloat, is is the requirement for modern software development. Hmmm...

I for one am happy I don't still live in the days where I can only watch two postage stamp sized videos at once and use half my 3GB hard disk to store them.


I may tell a true story: My first UNIX PC was a P1 (yes, Pentium 1) with 64 MB PS/2-EDO-RAM and an 8 GB hard disk. It was able to play video (mplayer), MP3 (xmms), compile the system, burn a CD (yes, no DVDs at that time), download an ISO per FTP and still provide a well responding web browser (Opera) - all at the same time. That was many years ago. Today, people running their monster-PCs get skipping MP3 playback when moving a window on the screen or starting another program.

Sounds wrong?

In fact, it does.

Reply Parent Score: 12

Neolander Member since:
2010-03-08

Thanks for showing me that I'm not alone ;)

Reply Parent Score: 2