Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 27th Jan 2012 20:02 UTC, submitted by Tom Krazit
Apple This is what we call an epic blunder of epic proportions. The article that used to be here, was submitted to us in full, with Tom Krazit as the submitter. As it turns out, though, this article is already published at PaidContent.org, so it's pretty clear someone kindly submitted it to us, but included the whole of that article. For some reason, I let it slip through without checking if it was actually an original - which I normally always do. Nobody contacted us so far, but I'm still incredibly sorry about this. Be sure to click this link and send traffic to PaidContent.org.
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Giving tablets too much credit.
by Beachchairs on Fri 27th Jan 2012 00:21 UTC
Beachchairs
Member since:
2009-04-10

> Tablets and smartphones aren't replacing PCs, they're just making it possible for people to wring extra years out of their older PCs by giving them lightweight access to just-enough computing power while on the move or while in the living room.

I don't think this is really the case. What I think is happening is that we are seeing Wirth's Law (the idea that software will bloat to make up for gains by Moore's Law) becoming less relevent.

A good example is web browsing. 10 years ago, you could gain a large user experience improvement by buying a new computer. Web pages would get less laggy, and could afford to add more bells and whistles. The web browser itself would seem faster, and could add its own bells and whistles. This is no longer the case. Actually the opposite seems to be happening. Firefox and Chrome are getting more bells and whistles while being faster on the same hardware. This very common activity is no longer following Wirth's Law, which means it is no longer pushing people to buy new hardware.

Computers aren't only portals to the internet (as much as the tech-savvy will disagree with this). People listen to music with iTunes or WMP or whatever else, but neither of those are bloating up. Tax software inn't getting any more demanding. My prefered mail client actually lost some fat recently.

The point I am trying to make is that the computing activies are no longer bound by hardware limitations. I remember 10 years ago closing all the applications in the system tray would make a huge, noticable speed difference. Doing so now would only help the weakest of netbooks. If software isn't obsoleting your hardware, why replace it?

Postscript: I know there are a few places where software is still bloating (I don't mean this in a negative way). Gaming is an example. Video playback is another. Apple's push for retina displays on DesktopOS computers will probably kickoff a push for a new HD format which will require hardware updates for some people. My netbook cannot do 1080p in real time, but is still watchable. I imagine I would need to upgrade it when these new formats come out.

Edited 2012-01-27 00:22 UTC

Reply Score: 7

laffer1 Member since:
2007-11-09

We're shifting into a performance per watt paradigm. Software must get faster and less bloated for a time. Pressure from ARM has forced Intel and AMD to make energy efficient processors like the AMD E series & A6 and the newer Intel ATOM and i7 gen 2 chips. Even server chips are getting more efficient.

My laptop uses about 32 watts to run and it's a quad core AMD A6. That's a little over half an old fashioned light bulb.

Reply Parent Score: 3

No it isnt Member since:
2005-11-14

True. It might be part of the consolification of PC games as well. There are still hardcore gamers out there who want to play on triple 27" monitors who want the latest and greatest HW, but even my then mid-range PC from 2009 (4 GB RAM, Radeon 5770) is still plenty fast enough for the games I want to play in full 1920x1080. Skyrim isn't much more demanding than GTA4.

As for the post-PC era, Mobile (iOS + Android + Symbian + etc) still doesn't grow as quickly as Windows 7 in actual use:
http://gs.statcounter.com/#mobile_vs_desktop-ww-monthly-200812-2011...

Reply Parent Score: 1

WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

The point I am trying to make is that the computing activies are no longer bound by hardware limitations. I remember 10 years ago closing all the applications in the system tray would make a huge, noticable speed difference. Doing so now would only help the weakest of netbooks. If software isn't obsoleting your hardware, why replace it?


Yeah, in times past, if you waited 4-5 years to upgrade your PC, you could see a huge speed gain. Now? My 1yo i5 quad core doesn't feel any faster than my 5yo Athlon 64 dual core, except for really demanding apps that most people don't run anyway.

Contrast this with phones and tablets, where the speed seems to be doubling every year. They won't keep up with this pace forever, and then I think you'll start to see sales level out, with people upgrading about as often as they do PCs. By that time, I'm sure there'll be some hot new gadget that's selling like mad, and people will be once again claiming it's the death of the PC.

I swear, the predictions about the death of the PC have been about as overstated as the year of Linux on the desktop ;)

Reply Parent Score: 3

wanker90210 Member since:
2007-10-26

I completely agree. The only reason I see right now to upgrade my couple of years old mbp is to get Thunderbolt. Also, in the Mac-case, the OS does not have the entropy a windows machines has.

Reply Parent Score: 1

unclefester Member since:
2007-01-13

Back in the 80s the surveying organisation my brother works for had a six monthly upgrade cycle on their PC workstations. At six months the PCs got a hardware upgrade (RAM + CPU). At 12 months they were completely replaced.

Reply Parent Score: 2

Lennie Member since:
2007-09-22

There is something else too, computers don't really become faster anymore either.

The Ghz race is pretty much over. CPUs and other parts can not get any faster. Computers are getting more and more parallel instead.

And as someone else mentioned, power efficient is an important criteria for the servers and the mobile devices which means the desktop automatically benefits too.

(power) efficient is also the only way if you want to squeeze out as many instructions as possible for each and every Hz.

Reply Parent Score: 2

r_a_trip Member since:
2005-07-06

If software isn't obsoleting your hardware, why replace it?

This.

For day to day tasks on the desktop, the base software is now mature. During the '90's and early '00's, software was going through a tremendous amount of progress. MS really set the pace of development with all the improvements in the OS and the Office suite.

From Windows 95, Windows 95 OSR2, Windows 98, Windows 98 SE, (forget Millenium, not an improvement), Windows 2000, Windows XP, there really was new compelling stuff to upgrade and the crop of hardware of the repective times was a tad anemic for these developments.Once AMD and Intel broke through the Ghz barrier, PC hardware has started to be more powerful than the software requires.

These days if you've got hardware from a dual to a quad core, humming along at aproximately 2 GHz, what difference does it really make if you run Windows XP SP3, Vista or Windows 7? (For all the alternative OS fans, fill in your favorite distribution. I did that with Linux).

The Western PC market is saturated and living off replacements and fashion choices (smaller casings, sleeker screens, etc.).

Reply Parent Score: 4

unclefester Member since:
2007-01-13


These days if you've got hardware from a dual to a quad core, humming along at aproximately 2 GHz, what difference does it really make if you run Windows XP SP3, Vista or Windows 7? (For all the alternative OS fans, fill in your favorite distribution. I did that with Linux).


Except that you can never have too much power (and currently not enough) for fast video rendering or encoding.

Reply Parent Score: 2