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Comparing Today's Computers To 1995's 461

Posted by samzenpus
from the pentium-80-how-I-miss-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A look back at two articles from 1995, touting high end computers and 'must haves.' How times have changed... ...'Memory (RAM): We seem to have convinced most manufacturers to adopt eight megabytes as standard, compared with four megabytes in 1994. Don't buy less than eight. The difference in performance between an eight megabyte machine and a four-megabyte machine can be dramatic.'"
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Comparing Today's Computers To 1995's

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  • by AdamHaun (43173) on Friday February 24, 2012 @03:02AM (#39144677) Journal

    My 486 only had four megabytes of RAM. I had to reboot and bypass CONFIG.SYS and AUTOEXEC.BAT to run Doom. The reason? My mouse driver took up too much memory. And this was in DOS, where you only had three or four drivers to begin with.

    (Before any other old folks ask -- I already had other drivers in upper memory so the mouse driver wouldn't fit there.)

  • by Zarhan (415465) on Friday February 24, 2012 @03:08AM (#39144699)

    Doom used a DOS extender. As such, you could pretty much have all your drivers in base memory without any of that UMB mangling.

    Ultima VII and the Voodoo Memory Management (http://ultima.wikia.com/wiki/Voodoo_Memory_Manager) on the other hand....required a lots of base memory and you really couldn't run anything like EMM386 reliably. Was...interesting to get Ultima VII working with 2MBs of RAM.

  • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) on Friday February 24, 2012 @03:12AM (#39144723) Homepage Journal

    Yep. And if you go with the informal version of Moore's law, "X doubles every year and a half" where X is just about any measure of computer capability, we're still almost on track. 2^10 = 1024, as /.er should know by heart; strictly speaking, this should mean about a thousandfold improvement between 1995 and 2010 rather than 2012, but everything you list was available two years ago, if at a somewhat higher price. And yes, X may just as well be boot time as RAM or processing power. ;)

  • by martin-boundary (547041) on Friday February 24, 2012 @03:18AM (#39144753)
    A nice one from that era I liked was Descent [wikipedia.org]
  • by phantomfive (622387) on Friday February 24, 2012 @03:44AM (#39144843) Journal
    Ironically, Windows 95 didn't come out until 1996
  • by phantomfive (622387) on Friday February 24, 2012 @03:49AM (#39144863) Journal
    Nevermind, I was wrong about that. First service pack was 1996.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 24, 2012 @04:04AM (#39144899)

    That's OK. This is Slashdot. You'll be modded up to +5, Informative, anyway.

  • Re:A bit outdated (Score:2, Informative)

    by Xest (935314) on Friday February 24, 2012 @05:27AM (#39145201)

    "Also CRT never really came down in price - stayed more or less the same, as materials/manufacturing/transportation are the bulk of their cost."

    Didn't it? the whole reason I bought a 17" CRT and then a few years later a 19" as a teen was because they drastically dropped into my price range. They most certainly did drop in price, just as drastically as larger LCD/TFTs have in recent years since the panel manufacturers got their wrists slapped for colluding on price.

    I firmly remember the standard monitor size available on computers in the early 90s onwards into the early 00s jumping from 14" to 15", to 17" and to 19" and above before the LCDs and TFTs started to steal the show. The sizes increased for no reason other than costs came down. I remember this because I had the unfortunate job of replacing the flyback transformer and such on a fair few of them over the years until the cost benefits of doing so deteriorated away.

  • Re:Eh (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 24, 2012 @06:57AM (#39145563)

    exactly,
    1995 : rendering a 640x480 8000 faces raytrace just about 7 days (486 with co-proc / floating point unit)
    now : rendering a 640x480 8000 faces raytrace 0,5 sec on a gpu, 0,7 op a cpu (quad)

  • Re:Eh (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 24, 2012 @08:10AM (#39145867)

    There will not be a "jump" to SSD any time soon.
    SSD is far less tolerant of write cycles (the flash deteriorates over times) meaning you cannot use it to contain a swap file without it deteriorating rapidly (and until Windows starts using RAM first, swap later [e.g. I have 8GB of RAM, yet Windows still insists on a 4GB swap file... then uses only 2GB of my RAM]).
    It also has a much smaller capacity : price ratio [e.g. 128GB of SSD will set you back over $150. I just bought a 2TB external HDD for less] while I can get 500GB (four times as much) for $75. And if we were going like - for like, we'd be looking at closer to $50 for a 2.5 inch HDD.

    So from a PC / laptop manufacturing standpoint - there is absolutely no business case for using SSD in the PC (it boots a little faster, but is less reliable).
    For something portable - SSD is more tolerant of shock damage (jumping around with it in a bag won't damage it), it extends battery time (uses less power), works well in low access environments (i.e. in a netbook used for the net, running Linux). But, that increases the price of the product by a significant amount / eats into profit margins (e.g. the eee 901 shipped at the same price - either HDD + Windows, or 16GB SSD + Linux at the same price, meaning windows users would have to purchase Windows on top - thereby increasing the price by $100+, and have 1/10th the hard drive space).

    Also, a cheap HDD will still give you high data transfer (both read and write) rates which can max out the data channel (e.g. Sata at 3gb/s), while a cheap SSD might be running at ~100mb/s read and ~10mb/s write, and only a top end SSD can match the data transfer speed of HDD.
    Whilst there are still seek time, fragmentation, etc. to take into account - unless you're willing to shell out a whole lot of money just so you don't have to defrag your hard drive, there's no reason to use SSD.
    For the future, there's little room for improvement in SSD in terms of capacity and cost.

  • Re:Eh (Score:3, Informative)

    by zeronitro (937642) on Friday February 24, 2012 @10:33AM (#39147021)

    While you appear to have a solid technical knowledge base, it is clear you have little to no practical knowledge or experience with SSDs other than off the cuff comments you've read here or there.

    Let's go through some of your misconceptions shall we...

    Price. Yes they are more expensive than mechanical hard drives. But the speed boost is substantial and worth it. I remember paying $200 for a 30GB HDD a long time ago. Now I can get a 128GB SSD for $160. My 128GB Crucial M4 is limited by my 3Gbs SATA 2 connection. It maxes out at ~280MB/sec for reads due to the pipe. It is actually much faster than that (over 400MB/sec fast). Pretty amazing difference for the otherwise slowest piece of hardware in any computer. Plus with TLC NAND arriving drives are going to start getting cheaper. Pair the cheaper flash with more mature controllers and within the next year or so SSDs will be in their prime.

    Yes they are not tolerant of vast amount of write cycles. That is what wear levelling and TRIM are for. Even if new 25nm MLC flash could *only* handle 3000 write cycles, do you think you will ever use it that much? Highly unlikely. New Intel drives in the worst case scenarios running MySQL databases are still expected to last for a few years. Are home users ever going to continuously do 1TB of writes per day on an SSD? Most enterprise systems won't even touch that.

    Mostly wrong about the swap file. Microsoft recommends putting the pagefile onto an SSD. See: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/e7/archive/2009/05/05/support-and-q-a-for-solid-state-drives-and.aspx [msdn.com]

    Take a look at SSD caching. In particular Intel Smart Response. It's a great way to get the speed benefit of SSDs much of the time with a lower cost.

    You are dead wrong about SSD speed. Where did you even come up with those numbers? My USB 3.0 32GB flash drive reads at over 120MB/sec. As already stated my SSD totally maxes out 3gb/sec SATA: something mechanical HDDs can only do in RAID. And that's only talking about sequential reads/writes. I dare you to open up firefox, photoshop, and start a 1080p movie off of a mechanical HDD, and then off of an SSD. Access times on SSDs are near instant. See http://www.anandtech.com/show/2829/20 [anandtech.com]

    Yes SSDs are still relatively young and immature in some areas. That doesn't change the fact that support for them is substancial and they are above and beyond mechanical drives in anything related to performance.

  • Re:Eh (Score:3, Informative)

    by Phasma Felis (582975) on Friday February 24, 2012 @11:15AM (#39147593)

    if you believe Wikipedia, there were only 50 websites to visit [wikipedia.org]

    Did you read that page you linked to? "Of the thousands of websites founded prior to 1995, those appearing here are noteworthy for one or more of the following reasons..."

If a 6600 used paper tape instead of core memory, it would use up tape at about 30 miles/second. -- Grishman, Assembly Language Programming

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