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View Full Version : More Horsepower vs. Old Tech


arcobb
May 16, 2005, 02:11 PM
I recently was reading this article:

http://lowendmac.com/myturn/05/0516.html

and it got me thinking and I wanted to start a discussion about it. To me it is amazing what old technology can do today. Even todayís laptops (I currently have a 1.33 Ghz 12" powerbook) have more horsepower than any of the top of the line G4 powermacs albeit they have only single processor. Do we really need or use all the power in brand spanking new computer? Sure I understand, if your are a professional with deadlines, you need to get things done. But I'm speaking about the 95% of users out there that don't make TV commercials that need to be done by 4 pm... today. I guess I'm speaking from a home user prospective. One of the highest processor intensive tasks I can think of is DVD authoring. However, one can still put the project together, do all the editing, put the titles together, and add chapters almost as fast using a 500 mhz imac as someone with a 2.5 ghz G5 powermac. The G5 will have a huge leg-up when it comes to the encoding process. However, I think most people sleep and have other things in their lives that keep them busy and can have their computers working while they sleep or are out for a bike ride. I hope we are not a generation of people that live in front of the computer 24/7 that the highlight of the day is to see how fast the thermometer bar takes to reach the end (edit... I'm a swim coach and working on a masterís in exercise science, so Iím a little biased. I see couch potato's all the time and in my work I want to see people active again. All couch potatoes and McDonald's fans... please see Super Size Me and read Fast Food Nation... sorry... little off topic).

Anyway, my point is I always read comments like my lowly powerbook 1.33 is still capable of x,y, or z. However I am constantly amazed at my sisterís 5 or 6 year old iMac with 256 ram recently upgraded to Tiger. Also, I recently put Virtual PC 7 on it and no, it is not winning a speed race, but it is functioning extremely well. And now that apple is doing things like incorporating xgrid technology into every computer via panther and tiger, even a high school with legacy imacs sitting in the computer lap could have a "super computer" running on the weekends (although I'm not sure what kind project a high school would do... maybe figure out a way to batch process H.264 video? anyone know if this is possible or if anyone is working on such a thing?). With such a technology things are increasingly moving the focus from the power and specs away from the desktop. Maybe in the future we will have services that you send your processor intensive task out to a server farm to have it rendered for a very short time and have it send back via broadband for a small fee (i.e. encode movie and have it sent back to you). I'm at a loss figuring out what I can't do on my laptop (Yes I know, its fairly new but I read people complaining about it often) or older macs, but I can't stop saying to myself... "holy cr*p, look at all the stuff you can do on an 8 year old computer!" I love apple for making old computers more functional then the day they were built. This is a huge plus for apple! How many Window users found their old computer was to slow to run the new xp operating system!? And what is the outlook for legacy computers running longhorn? Yes, my sisterís computer is missing out on the whole ripple effect experience, but is that a reason to go out an purchase a brand new imac g5 or powermac when she is still able to make a cool dvd on her external burner with her ďoldĒ imac running tiger? OkÖ rant over. I love apple, Iíve been a user since the apple II days and Iíve never owned a pc. Thanks to Mr. Jobs saving Apple in the mid-90ís disaster, since then Apple rocks! And Thanks apple for a great computing experience over the years!

I'd love to hear other peopleís thoughts!

dops7107
May 16, 2005, 02:25 PM
I guess there's a certain grain of truth in the argument that if your computing needs have not really changed, then why change your computer? I guess it's the continual drive to improve things. Back when computers showed just 16 colours (if that) no doubt there were people wishing it could look more photo-realistic. Yes, software has become more bloated and much more sophisticated, but if you get better results sooner and in less pain then fine.

Up until today I was using a Rev A. iMac for my work computer. I have been using GoLive CS to make our lab website. I managed it, although I did most of it on my Mac mini at home because it was so much less painful to use (it was almost a pleasure on the mini!). Now it has been replaced by an eMac things are so much smoother. True, a G5 PM would have been overkill. But I doubt I'd have managed to get the project done quite as easily if I had used old software versions on an older operating system that was more suited to the G3 in the iMac.

I think it is wise to squeeze as much life as possible out of your hardware, for economic and environmental reasons. There is always the desire to get the latest and greatest - iPods, cars, washing machines, girlfriends... ;) - but for most of us the pocket is the limiting factor!

Blue Velvet
May 16, 2005, 02:30 PM
Do we really need or use all the power in brand spanking new computer?


Yes. :D

My perspective is one of a print designer. Having fast Macs means I can RIP stuff to the printer much faster, distill publications in a 1/4 of the time it used to take, burning DVDs, work on Pshop files, moving stuff through a gigabit network, stuffing 500mb files, etc...

Sitting round and waiting for stuff to happen can be creatively demoralising.

When at home, even ripping CDs to iTunes can never be fast enough or copying large work files from a USB key and unstuffing them. Also, another problem is with bloatware like MS Office that has piled on so many extra unwieldy features that using it on an older computer is an exercise in frustration.

Aeronautical
May 16, 2005, 02:43 PM
I am a professional artist using a five year old Indigo Imac (350Mhz, 8Gb, 576 RAM) and it suits my needs almost perfectly (almost...). I use vector illustration software (mostly Corel Draw in OS X but sometimes Adobe Illustrator in Classic) to design paintings before printing them out, turning them into stencils, and transferring them to canvas. That's such a basic process that my old Mac can handle it every time. Any brick walls I tend to come up against tend to be creative, not technological. I appreciate people using hungry software really do need to keep upgrading though.

Blue Velvet
May 16, 2005, 02:44 PM
Furthermore, from a domestic perspective, the increasing power of computers is enabling people to realise Alvin Toffler's predictions that people would become empowered by becoming producers and disseminators rather than mere consumers of creative content and media.

The stuff you can do nowadays with GarageBand, iLife apps is just the beginning of this. And of course, the exponential growth of gaming demands increasing computing speed & muscle...

arcobb
May 16, 2005, 02:58 PM
Furthermore, from a domestic perspective, the increasing power of computers is enabling people to realise Alvin Toffler's predictions that people would become empowered by becoming producers and disseminators rather than mere consumers of creative content and media.

The stuff you can do nowadays with GarageBand, iLife apps is just the beginning of this. And of course, the exponential growth of gaming demands increasing computing speed & muscle...

I see what you are saying, however what about the idea that computing speed and muscle being done off site. For example folding@home use a tremendous about of muscle but most of it is spread over many computers. Also, much of the push has been for us to do things in real time. Edit, move video, create music. Many computers are capable of doing this. So are we wanting to do things faster then real time?

On another note I understand gaming will can always use more processing power as we get more and more life like, however the mac has never been the ideal gaming platform and I think (don't burn me if I'm wrong) the trend (higher percentage) is towards dedicated gaming machines like xbox or ps2 and the like. Especially, the mac has been used more towards the work, video, music and photo organizing, side of the equation then the gaming side.

Thanks for the reply's!

sigamy
May 16, 2005, 03:58 PM
I just read the article on lowendmac before I hopped over here.

I think the number of people who constantly upgrade and stay on the cutting edge is relatively small. If you read these forums, it will seem like everyone is looking for the latest and greatest but we all know that Macrumors readers make up a very small segment of the population.

There was a thread a few months back asking people to list their CPU--just the CPU and the speed. I was expecting to see tons of dual 1.8Ghz G5s but I was surpised to see many lower-end G4s listed.

I have a 1Ghz G4 iMac (17" FP) and an 800mhz G4 iBook. Nice setup, with two mid-range G4s. Plus my todder's have a 400mhz G3 iMac DV for edu games. I was seriously considering an iMac G5 for the exact thing you mentioned--iDVD authoring. I was saying that I'd like to get iDVD down to 3 hours for a 1 hour DVD. I'd also like to have my effects render faster in iMovie. I'd have to sell my G4 iMac (which I love) to afford the new one. The only thing holding me back was that I like the look of my G4 better.

I went to the Apple store twice to play with them. I made my decision and was going to go for it. I needed more power--I'm an iLife power user! I need a new digital hub! I should have the latest and greatest!

I got home and found out that we still owed the plumber $800 for our basement remodel. Ouch. Reality sets in. I have a beautiful and very functional machine. I don't have the money for this upgrade...Does it matter if I can apply the "aged film" effect in 30 seconds vs. 70 seconds? So what if I can't shoot, edit and burn a movie to DVD all in one afternoon--how often do I do that? I need to stop the upgraditis--it is a disease, you know?

I've posted here about Xgrid for consumer apps. Now DVDSP has distributed encoding so that you can use network resources. I'd love to see this trickle down to iDVD so that I could use both my iMac and iBook for encoding. Maybe iLife '07.

I think those of us who live and breathe this stuff do move a bit too fast. I'm sure there are plenty of people who are barely using their hardware. That being said, there are times when you must upgrade and the bloatware created these days doesn't help. iPhoto was supposed to just be a photo organizer and finder/email replacement for photos. Now they've added some (basic) editing capabilities that I think probably don't work well on G3s. GarageBand needs a G4 for most of its features.

Nothing wrong with progress...but we also should take notice and use what we've got.

arcobb
May 17, 2005, 12:10 AM
I found this and thought it was interesting:
http://www.macdevcenter.com/pub/a/mac/2004/05/11/xgrid_pt1.html

SurfAddict
May 17, 2005, 12:43 AM
Nice to see a swimcoach on here swim season just ended for me and I'm a senior in highschool. I would consider myself a prosumer at my school we have a video production class that me and one other guy basically do all the editing for its a small class of about 12. Basically we do various video projects including a once a week video brodcast of the school news. Now the lab is filled with brand new gateways with 3.2 ghz p4s and then one lonely g4 at 900mhz. Now basically I have 1 hour to capture all the footage from 2 cameras edit apply color correction and volume editing and transfer back to dv to be played over the school tvs. So being a mac user and dreading Pinnacle 9 on windows I made a desperate attempt to use final cut pro and lets just leave it at that day the school didnt have its news broadcast. Not to mention were not getting a new mac cause our district wont let us buy any more macs. So unfortunately I have to use that buggy POS Pinnacle 9 on the gateways because I have to have the speed even though that thing is so buggy and freezes up all the time :mad: . But even when working with Live Type on my laptop(see sig.) I find myself wishing it was much snappier and it hogs all my rescources so its kinda hard to do anything but that, nothing intensive just iTunes and safari while its rendering.