December 26th, 2008


Love that Moore's Law (and that competition)

I remember when I built my first PClone. I finally conceded that enough effort and money had been thrown at the obscenity that is the x86 architecture that for my purposes I should hold my nose, suppress antiperistalsis, and get one. It was a system with a chip by NexGen, an outfit that AMD very wisely bought, leading to K5, K6, and then the Duron and Athlon and wiping the floor with the utter garbage that was the Pentium 4. It was 1997. That NexGen system didn't last long, but I have continued since with commodity hardware, and, aside from a brief early flirtation with a Cyrix chip, with AMD. (OK, the Eee has an Intel Atom, and irpooh 's Dell laptop a Core 2 Duo, but aside from that.)

I wish I remembered just how much I sprang for on that first system... but I do remember that, starting with my first Duron, I've tended to pay about $100 for a CPU. That first Duron ran at 650 MHz (very impressive for its time). I went on to various flavors of 32-bit Athlons, and since March 2008 with a 2.8 GHz Athlon 64 X2.

Here we are nine months later, and the "shell shocker" for today? A four core, 2.3 GHz Phenom 9600, and for how much? At $20 off, $100. I'm in the market for a new system for my sister--nudging her with the example of the guy at who now makes his living doing gorgeously rendered wallpaper that people put on their monitors, and image transformations are (1) compute intensive and (2) often operations of the sort that are easy to divide up between processors--so that's darned tempting.

Perhaps I should wait just a little bit; with January, new AMD CPUs are said to be arriving. (Yes, Intel had its bacon saved by a group in Israel who came out with the Core and now Core 2 architecture, which are better than the Athlon--lately by adopting AMD architectural features like an equivalent of HyperTransport--but they still can't beat AMD when it comes to price/performance, and without competition, Intel will return to doling out dribbles of improvements at their lordly whim and charging even more outrageous prices than they do now.)

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