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How much power do you really need?


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#1 Just_One_Question

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Posted 26 March 2017 - 06:57 AM

Quick question,

Apart from using Internet applications, doing graphical development, playing games, watching movies, listening to music or processing large quantities of text information, is there anything else whatsoever that a standard 1Ghz Sempron CPU processor & 1Gb of DDR400 RAM cannot handle?

My buddy and I were just discussing that if it weren't for the Internet, Entertainment and Scientific industries, computers'd have never really had to become any more powerful then they were at the height of the dot-com bubble in 1999.

What do you think? :)

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#2 jonuk76

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Posted 26 March 2017 - 07:15 AM

As hardware power increases, software increases in sophistication (some would say bloat) to make use of that power.  Your hypothetical 1 Ghz Sempron with 1 Gb DDR400 would struggle to boot fully patched and updated Windows XP SP3, let alone Windows 10.  How do I know? Because I've got a much faster (but still comparatively ancient) AMD Athlon XP 2500+ system in storage, and to amuse myself the other year, I loaded it up with Windows 98 SE and XP SP3 (and a bunch of old games and so on). Windows XP SP3 while it ran, was not great.  Extremely long boot times, extreme periods of waiting for it to respond, it was struggling badly.  Windows 98 of course, flew, as you might expect.  As for running Chrome or any browser remotely "modern" or "secure" under XP, I would say it was pretty much unusable.  With the required anti virus taking up so much processor time, it's difficult to know how we managed before multi core systems :)

 

I'm sure it would run a resource light version of Linux beautifully though.


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#3 Just_One_Question

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Posted 26 March 2017 - 05:52 PM

I agree. However, it should be noted that I have and used until relatively recently a fully-patched, but very well optimized Windows XP: Service Pack 3 PC.
The computer ran like new, just like the day it was bought in the summer of 2005. It has an AMD Sempron 2800+ 1.6Ghz CPU, 2GB maxxed-out DDR RAM @400Mhz, 128MB of video card RAM (ATI Radeon), 80GB HDD & a Cooler Master cooling. I can't provide any more specifics as I don't remember very well.
The point is that this PC runs lighting-fast anything you throw at it, apart from browsing the Internet, graphical development, such as Photoshop or Windows Movie Maker, large-data processing programs, such as a Bloomberg Terminal, and playing newer video games. It can do everything else with ease. You can play any game up to the year 2004 on max settings. One example would be Star Wars: Episode 1 - Racer. A game with stunning looks and graphics, in my view, to this day. Also GTA: Vice City. No problem whatsoever.

My thought is that if you are not using you computer for browsing the Internet, are not a 'professional' gamer, banker/economist, graphics-maker or scientist, you really won't be seeing any difference in performance whatsoever between my PC & a brand new one with top specs. Which would ultimately mean that if it weren't for the Internet, entertainment and scientific industries, computers basically peaked at 1Ghz single-core 32-bit CPU & 1GB @400Mhz RAM.

For what it's worth I am glad to be owning what basically is the perfect retro and gaming machine and computer time capsule for the period 1995-2004.
Cheers! :)

Edited by Just_One_Question, 26 March 2017 - 05:55 PM.


#4 Kilroy

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Posted 27 March 2017 - 12:00 PM

Well, since you can run a ton of old arcade games on a Raspberry Pie, a lower powered PC can run quite a lot.  However, with more power comes more ability.

 

Most of it has to do with the operating system you install.  As jonuk76 said as computers became more powerful developers have found ways to use that power.

 

Word processing and spreadsheets for example.  While a low end machine can run them, we have gotten used to what we can do on a more powerful machine.  I used to work for a bank.  They had daily reports from every branch, how many savings, checking, loan accounts did you open yesterday.  Before computers no one would have thought about asking for that information on a daily basis, let alone track it over time.  Now with computers they don't have any issue.  I worked with the admin who compiled the report, it used to be half of her day.  Once we got everyone on networked computers we automated it with scripts to pull in the data from 40+ branches and had the spreadsheet pull the numbers from those 40+ files.

 

The more computers are capable of doing, the more we will do with them.



#5 Just_One_Question

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Posted 27 March 2017 - 12:31 PM

Indeed, that's why we call them computers. Thank you for the input!
:)




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