And Now For Something Completely Different

Computer technology is a mess.  The CPU is far outpacing everything else.  It's like a marathon runner dragging his entire support staff behind him.  CPU's have reached outstanding speeds.  They could be even faster if they weren't limited and held back by all of their support hardware, and the need to maintain backwards compatibility.  Let me explain.

Since CPU's have been accessing memory and I/O devices, they have been doing so at a relative similar speed until the early 1990's.  If a CPU was 100MHz, it's memory was 100MHz.  Things were pretty much equal.  Then you started noticing the CPU's started to go progressively faster and faster, many times faster than the speed of memory was getting.  A relatively cheap technology called "dynamic RAM" allowed memory sizes to increase, but speed suffered.  Dynamic RAM needs to be refreshed thousands of times a second, otherwise it forgets things.  It also requires multiple CPU cycles to supply valid  data or be ready for data to be written to it.

Certainly, RAM technology has improved, but still lags behind CPU technology by many many many generations.  The fastest memory of today still causes your CPU to sit and twiddle its thumbs waiting for the data to become ready.  The interface or "buss" which the CPU uses to access memory is considerably slower than the internal buss of the CPU.  This is a big bottleneck.  Sure, things like "Cache" can help, but it's not a great solution.  Cache, by the way, is a bit of internal RAM inside the CPU that runs much faster than the external buss, that keeps recently accessed memory values locally to speed up many calculations and such.  It's an effective method to increase speed, but it's not the best method.  Slow memory has to be accessed at least once before cache memory can be effective.  It's a bandage, not a cure.

Frankly, if a CPU is 3.3GHz, then the memory should be 3.3GHz, without any wait states.  Until such things happen, the CPU will be greatly limited in its speed and effective number crunching capability.

Now, here's the other frustrating bottleneck.  This would be permanent storage.  We are STILL using mechanical storage in a solid state world.  FLASH is a start, but like dynamic RAM, is very limited in its capabilities.  Hard drives may be getting very very high in their capacity, but they are also getting much less reliable.  It's obvious why.  They are machines, and when you push machines to their mechanical limits, they begin to wear down quicker.  They are at the point to where you just cannot rely upon them for reliable storage.

FLASH memory, or "SSD" is a newER technology, but it is not a replacement for a harddrive.  FLASH memory has a limited number of times you can write to it; and each time you write to it, it gets progressively slower.  There will come a day when you cannot write to it at all, and the data contained on it will be effectively permanent.  This is why things like laptops and portable phones have special software to limit how they write to solid state devices (SSD's), because there is a countdown to when you can't write to them anymore.  They are expensive and their sizes fall way behind hard drives.

Personally, they are a step in the wrong direction.  What is needed is memory that keeps its data when turned off and still can be accessed like normal memory with the same speed and same ability that normal memory has.  No limited reads, no limited writes, and no need for refreshing, no need for batteries, no need for anything like that.  When storage and memory is on par with the CPU, only then will computers be the high tech machines of science fiction.

It's like placing a race car engine in a Yugo.  The race car engine being the CPU and the Yugo being the rest of the computer.  The PC (and Mac) of today, is basically the same design it was back in 1970.  Sure, the Yugo has rear spoilers, a tuned suspension, a turbo charged V8, racing tires, etc. yet it's still just a Yugo.

OK, now after making your eyes glaze over, here's why this kind of stuff happens.

Once upon a time Patents and Copyrights were under 15 years.  This was a capitalistic idea.  This allowed the inventor to profit from his (or her) invention for a time, but it also encouraged future innovation as the patent would run out and everyone would now be making your widgets.  This would flood the market with copies and would give you an incentive to make something new.  The U.S.A. had its greatest growth under such patent and copyright rules.  It literally brought the world out of thousands of years of technological stagnation.  The freedom to innovate and the right to have exclusive rights to profit from it, for a time, brought vast technological advancements.  Everything from Electricity, to the light bulb, to the mass produced automobile, to the air conditioner, to the refrigerator and on and on, were all because of patent and copyright laws at a sensible length of time.

Then came the monopolists and their progressive big government buddies, they caused the patent and copyright laws to be extended and made into the ridiculously limited forms they are now.  Instead of breading innovation, they now encourage hoarding, litigation, and fear of innovation.  This is not capitalism.  This is monopolism, and is the epitome of greed.  The only difference between a Monopoly and a large government is one collects taxes.  Both limit innovation, both encourage greed, and both cause technology and society to be stagnant.

The computer industry, my occupation, was this grand and vast melting pot of innovation and development in the 1970s and 1980s, and a bit into the 1990's.  However, due to the arcane patent and copyright laws, you now are limited in your choices, and those choices can be expensive.  Intel and Microsoft are not the monoliths of capitalism some may think.  They are in fact, the bloated monopolies that are a direct result of flawed patent and copyright laws.  Instead of designing new products that are vastly improved over the old ones, they just upgrade the old technology a bit at a time.  All for licensing and "backwards compatibility" reasons.  Can you imagine how things would be if patents were only 15 years long and copyright was only 15 years?  Do you really think Intel and Microsoft would be only ones on the block?  Of course not, vast innovations would have replaced these old and run down technologies masquerading as "high-tech".

Just sit back and think about it.  I am a capitalist, and a believer in the rights of the individual.  Nevertheless, both cannot benefit if they are allowed to sit on the back of an old invention.  Capitalism requires change, competition, and innovation.

The very complaints against so-called "capitalism" by Marxists, are misplaced.  Their examples and complaints about "capitalistic greed" more rightly apply to "monopolistic greed".  Whereas Marxism is total government, monopolism is total stifling of the free market by a single entity.  Both do the same thing.  Marxism, by regulation, and monopolism by eliminating competition.  Companies like Proctor and Gamble, Microsoft, GE, and other large conglomerates are a disgrace to the free market system.  They depend upon the developments and profits of their previous generation to maintain the status-quo.  Innovation threatens a "stable" product that needs to see its end, but due to patents and copyright over extending, keeps feeding the monster with mediocrity.

Oddly enough, it's these big monopolies that feed the b
ig government monsters.  Why?  Simple, they will profit from exclusive access.

So, why is your computer just a suped up version of a 1970's design?  Simple, the need to really innovate isn't there.

6 Responses to “And Now For Something Completely Different”

  1. Cryin' for the Dyin' Reply May 24, 2010 at 6:22 am

    Hello..An interesting and informative posting.  I remember when they were doing the RD on ‘Flash’.  It has always been a question as to how long any digital may last.  Most say ‘forever’..that is a long time and I doubt it will.  I have not had a hard time getting any research..even cutting edge. Research is temporal however, in the ever changing huristic nature of reality. 

    For another context..the speed of light is just that..the time it takes to get it from my keys to the relay station or pole is negligable.  I have experienced one ‘crash’.  Most feel this is expected with ‘windows’.  I keep my discs clean and my ram as well.  If I want to secure something I do a ‘hard copy’.  The source of flash drives and anything for that matter is of consequence. 

     In the minimal shopping I have three times ever..I encountered problems from ‘hackers’ etc.  I have private security and a digital signerature  but still. 

    It remains interesting..the different uses for this amazing tool.  The basics never change and if they are compromised it leads to a problem in lack of recognizing that problem..

    These are observations of mine..Years ago I used to have a friend who worked in Sorrento Valley.  Nothing has changed much since basics..but the size of the machines or more correctly ‘motors’.  What can be done with them is another matter and people are always trying for the max…Peace Tony

  2. Cryin' for the Dyin' Reply May 24, 2010 at 6:34 am

    My response..on another side of this is amazing how different a person can see things like patents..copyrights etc.  I am a writer.  In having a conversation with an ASCAP attorney, who was in Philidelphia..I said quite sincerely..’I do not think copyrights should ever expire’..for obvious reasons.  He said to me..’it is in the constitution’..I researched, once again, in context and found this to be true.  My answer to the time of our discussion..was ‘what of the masters’.  It is quite obvious to me that a copyright and patent are different in many ways.  Everything I do in philosophy has to do with the essence of artistic creation.  On the other do want to be exegetic and progressive.  Good stuff..Peace Tony

  3. Copyright used to be shorter, yes, but it was also more restrictive to licensees.  Organizations such as ASCAP and the RIAA wouldn’t exist because the artists would be getting a much larger piece of the pie.  Also you may think you own copyright on a work, but no, your record label does.  That is part of the problem.  All the new copyright laws have done to the artist is lock their works down permanently to their labels.  The idea that “intellectual property” could be required for license was a new idea.  Under the old rules, you would have maintained the copyright and be the one entitled to damages should it be violated, not ASCAP, not the RIAA.Copyright has always been slightly longer than patents due to your very concerns.  However, it has today become a monster that works against the artist, not for them.  It is designed to promote the monopoly of labels and not the artist themselves.Copyright and patents were designed to benefit the creative individual and not the collective monopoly.  15-20 years was considered a more than enough time to make a profit off of the work.  Of course, life expectancy was short too.  This was effectively an adult lifetime.  I have no objections to a modernizing of the length of time to account for a longer life span.  However, they should still be designed to encourage the artist to continually create throughout their life.Can you imagine how much it would suck if Westinghouse STILL had a patent on AC electricity?!Think about it.  For me, I’d rather simplify copyrights and patents back to their original intent and purpose.  Get rid of so-called “software patents” too.  Sorry, but software is no different than a book.

  4. Cryin' for the Dyin' Reply May 25, 2010 at 9:22 am

    Hello..I certainly agree in principle.  After all it is my work.  ASCAP was definitive in the ‘legal process’ when they set down their priorities and intent in this defining ‘monopoly’ and setting forth the first ‘consent decree’ in this country.  This put them effectively out of business for 4 years as they went to Fed Court to define their position..and that is when MOTOWN came into the picture.  My grandfather was a charter member of ASCAP.  Before that, and in Europe..well, if one did not know someone..or was not willing to risk imprisonment or death getting to ‘know someone’ their work remained in attics and so forth until it was discovered..many times to hand credit of creation to another. 

    In the primordial nature of ‘mammal’ I do the interest of what works for survival..I agree most wholeheartedly with what is said here, indeed for any ‘control’ or law there is a universal reaction to deny.  The governments get way off into oppressive and where that always goes.  Historically it does not work..It is not working now.

    Point of fact..I do not need nor want a legal system to moniter my activities.  Be that as it is..there are a lot of folks in this world who do not even understand the concept of civilized.  You appear to be very directed and lucky..then there is the middle east and other troubled spots. 

    In a moment of aside..a Conressional Bill came to my attention.  It is from Rep. Alan Grayson..D. Fla.  It is called the ‘Wars cost money bill’..I agree with the concept..have a good one..I am going to tour the cyberhood..Peace Tony

  5. There is one more thing I think I should address, and that is your statement that all copyrights should never end.  There is a difference between copyright and authorship credits.  Also, “expired” copyrights cannot be repackaged and sold as if someone else created them.  The works still must have the author’s credits.  The only difference is that once copyright is expired, the determination on how it is used is lost.  The “exclusivity” is gone.I believe the artist should credit exclusively, and perhaps their spouse.  However, once the author is dead (and copyright is expired), there is not a reason to reward someone for something they didn’t work for or create themselves.  The idea of permanent copyright limits things for artists in the future.  Can you imagine having to pay royalties to the Pacabelle estate (if there was one) for every song now days that has his famous “Canon” movement in it, be it rock, classical, country, whatever?A reward/trophie must be given, but only you deserve it.There is only one Hollywood movie that is in the public domain because of a clerical oversight (they forgot to renew the copyright by the deadline), and yet look at the good it still does society.  The movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” is public domain (although people still buy it not knowing).  Heck, they even put the FBI notice on the DVD, but it’s the only movie they can’t do anything about it.Everyone involved in that movie is dead now.  There’s no reason to drag on copyright.  Nobody is losing anything, except maybe the monopolies.There needs to be a time where the ideas have to be shared so that better ideas can be built upon them.  No copyrights or patents and you have communism, too much copyrights or patents and you have monopolism.  There has to be a reasonable middle ground to benefit the innovator and future innovators.  I believe this balance is the greatest benefit to society, and the individual in it. 

  6. Cryin' for the Dyin' Reply May 27, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    Hello..I am late with this and do apologize..busy week..Yes, for the financial end of copyright..90 some odd years with a 25 year extension is, for the most part, enough.  Taking someone elses credit is, of course, reprehensible.  It does happen in accident.  Lennon-McCartneys ‘Norwegian Wood’ was a tune done by the famous and prolific Harry Warren..20 years or so before the beatles were even born..called ‘Little Bird’.  It is amazing after all these years and all the uncounted songs written..there is still more than enough.  Art, in variables of combination and presentation, is wonderful that way..Peace Tony

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