Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Round round round we go, where all that processor speed is nobody knows


Peter Seebach has written another interesting piece at IBM Developerworks on where all that extra CPU power we have these days is going. Excerpt:

Computers are getting faster all the time, or so they tell us. But, in fact, the user experience of performance hasn't improved much over the past 15 years. Peter looks at where all the processor time and memory are going.

About 10 years ago I remember people complaining that Microsoft Word was too slow on the Mac. You could type faster than the processor handled input on such a large application. Imagine my disappointment when I recently discovered that the same thing still holds true. Similarly, my first computer with a hard drive loaded a small command-line utility in under a second and a large graphics program in perhaps half a minute. Those are good specs, but isn't it kind of sad that they haven't changed much in the past 15 years?

So the question is, where is all the CPU power going? How is it possible that a machine with a full gigabyte of memory can run out of room to run applications just as quickly as a machine with six megabytes of memory did 15 years ago? In this month's The cranky user, I'll get to the bottom of this big mystery. But first, I want to revisit an old adage and see where it stands today.

All pretty logical, but I wonder when (or if) the curve will ever slant towards faster reponses. Maybe if we move to 100% solid state systems (no anologue hard disks etc.)...


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