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SubjectRE: Minutes from Feb 21 LSE Call
> >"Normal" folk simply have no use for an 8 CPU system.
> I had this argument over whether normal people would ever really need a
> 10mb hard drive when I was 21. Once was enough, sorry, I didn't
> convince the other guy then, and I don't think I have gotten more
> eloquent since then.

I should be more careful in what I say. I remember fighting to get 20MB
drives in systems for an early Novell LAN, when management thought that no
one would ever need more than 10MB.

To be more precise in my reasoning:

High-powered, multiprocessor computers will be an essential part of people's
lives -- in medical equipment, possibly guiding transportation, in various
tools that affect people's live. As for what we see today as a "home
computer": The vast majority of people don't use what they already have.
This is one reason that sales of "home computers" have slowed; people just
don't need a 3GHz system (with or without HT or SMP) for checking e-mail and
writing a letter to Aunt Edna.

> I'll just say that entertainment will drive computing for the next 5-15
> years, and game designers won't have enough CPU that whole time.
> Hollywood is dying like radio did, and immersive experiences are
> replacing it.

You are correct. Gaming, file sharing, digital imaging -- those application
eat horsepower. But I honestly can't see how 8 processors can possibly make
Abiword run "better."

Technologies tend to hit a point where they're "good enough" for the
majority of users. For example, houses haven't really changed much in 50
years, in spite of Disney visions and the HGTV. I haven't seen too many
push-button houses (like people predicted in the 1950s); and I still want my
flying cars, dang-it!

> You didn't say whether you typically haul stuff and kids over rough
> roads. If you don't (and very few SUV owners do), then what you need is
> called a "mini-van", which is what people who are functionally oriented
> buy for city hauling of kids and stuff ;-), and I bought my wife one.
> It has more than 16 CPUs in it....

I live half-time in rural Colorado -- at 9800 feet above sea level, on rough
highways 60 miles from the nearest grocery store. I've also done Search &
Rescue, and I'm involved in work on Indian Reservations (where roads just
plain stink). I do need a different vehicle for when I'm in Florida -- we
usually leave my behemoth parked and drive a boring Taurus.

My 4x4 SUV is kinda raggy; it's 18 years old, and I maintain it myself.
People who buy $75,000 Cadillac SUVs with leather seats do it for prestige
and "mine is bigger than yours" competition. Kinda like folks who buy
dual-processor systems with 250GB drives, so they can web surf or impress
people at LAN parties... ;)

This point does fit with our discussion of multiprocessor computers.
Minivans are *not* marvels of high technology; they're actually quite
prosaic. But they do the job well for many people who have no need for a
high-tech car. Meanwhile, the best-technology vehicles don't sell very well.
I suspect the same rule holds true for computers.


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