Thursday, May 01, 2008

Computers ...growth

I recently bought a desktop. My laptop was getting old and slow. The things a desktop can do today are fascinating to put it mildly. There were a couple of things that I wanted to make sure when buying a desktop, one was to get a good monitor, another to get a 64bit CPU(Without a 64 bit you cannot have more than 4GB ram) and the third a good/decent graphics processor. Eventually I got a 22 inch screen, with Intel Core2duo (dual core = 2 32 bit processor, core2duo = 2 64 bit processor, confusing...I know) and ATI radeon 2600XT-256MB. I heard a lot about Nvidia bugs on decided to give ATI a chance. Let me also add that the CPU bus speed was 1333Mhz and memory bus speed is 800 MHz. I will get to the reason why I am talking about specs. The desktop that I bought is overall a good configuration, its not the best you can get in market today.

My appt mate Matt, gave me a game called: Call Of Duty 4-Modern warfare. I finished that game. It was a good game. But I had played a game called Max Payne, and compared to that, it was only a few steps ahead. I went to and was looking for the best graphic game in the past couple of months... and lo...there I found this

I went to the local store, and bought this game to see how current generation graphic games are like... and whoa! I couldnt believe what I saw. Mind blowing graphics. Many of the graphical images where like photographs.... all this when I was playing on medium graphical settings on my machine(out of the 4 settings low, medium, high, very high)

Now a days graphics cards are added in a special slot called (PCI express slots). PCI express 2.0 has been recently released is found only in very few motherboards.Most other graphics card work on PCI 1.0 which is found in most motherboards. The high end graphics card use PCIe 2.0. When you are buying a graphics card today, you have to be careful of this distinction. A couple of years before you could buy any graphics card and put them in your AGP slot if you had one. Things have changed... and that is how we actually get to the point of this it goes.

Ten years back I was going to join 10th std. I was in ICSE syllabus and people in ICSE syllabus had the privilege to choose a subject study, and give board exam on it. I had chosen computer science. We had a computer lab in our school where we used to go to do our projects. Our projects where done in GW-Basic or QBasic. The computer science lab was open 24 all the time and other than doing projects we would play games :) like Mortal Combat or Doom or Wolfenstein 3D.

There were totally around 8-10 computers and that was good enough for around 30 computer science students (from 9th and 10th std combined, rest of them chose economics or something else). We had to choose our elective in the begining of 9th std.

There was one main computer where our computer teacher used to sit and work. It had a color monitor. It had then a high end CPU running at 133Mhz. It had 1 MB of Ram. Later it got a CD rom Drive. I think it had a 1 GB hard disk. It had built in Graphics chipset. It ran win95.

The computers we worked in was running at 66Mhz. It had a turbo mode to run at slightly higher speeds. (intel proccessor 80286-80486 had a turbo mode I think). It didnt have Graphics chipset, that implied you could never ever see an image or do any graphic related work. We had 560KB of ram. There was no hard disk on my machine. All these machines were connected to a server which housed all the files. This is not to be confused with the famous "dumb terminal" setting that existed in 70s and early 80s. In dumb terminals, the processing power was also in some central server, in my lab that was not the case. Only hard disk was absent. I think the server had a hard disk of around 1GB. That was more than enough for the GW Basic files that we created, which were at max a couple of Kbs. Oh..we worked on DOS command line all the time.

Today, the specs may look similar at first glance, then you realise that the units that follow them are different!
CPUs = 64 bit around 2.33 dual processor = 1 64 bit CPU 3.5 GHz
RAM = 1-2 GB normal. High end 4-8 GB.
GPUs memory vary from 128MB to 1 GB. Memory band-width of my GPU = 32 GB/s. There are GPUs in the market today go above 100 GB/s.
Hard disks = 250 Gb to 1 Tb
Sound card = Typically most mother boards today come with 8 channel sound.

10 yrs back.
CPU = 32 bit 66 Mhz.
RAM = 560K or 1 MB.
GPU = 0 or may be present
Hard disk = 1 GB
Sound card= basic or none.

Now I am getting to the best part. Today, to make the gaming experiences more real, there is something called Physics card. You can get it when you buy a dell desktop online. What Physics card does, is takes care of all physics related aspects of interaction. You can read more about this here

10 yrs in the future...i may look at this article, I might laugh at the fact that I find today's config fascinating...


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