FiringSquad Editors Challenge Round...
No friends yet.
||1 entry(ies) in this category
| 21st century computing with Victorian-era tech. (7 comments )|
by: CaptRobertApril (2) | Posted in cluster FiringSquad Editors Challenge Round 1 Prelim 2
Posted 76 months ago in category DEFAULT
It's 1868. In a nation still recovering from the wounds of the Civil War, Wyoming has just become an American Territory, the 14th Amendment is passed allowing citizenship for African-Americans and Thomas Edison has applied for his first patent. An enterprising inventor named Christopher Sholes also applies for a patent: For a keyboard layout designed to slow typists down so that the mechanical letter bars on their typewriters wouldn't stick. It's the QWERTY keyboard.
It's now 2007. I personally harness more computing power than NASA possessed during the Apollo missions. I can watch live streaming video of a Sumo match in Osaka while making a Skype call to Sydney and folding proteins in the background. However, when I go to type a critique of Georgia Tech's solar-powered Xenon ion spacecraft engine I have to do it on a... QWERTY keyboard!
The modern computer is an anachronism. It is a mix of functions that existed only in the realm of science fiction just a few years ago with fundamental physical structures that predate the light bulb. Look inside a modern computer, and instead of glowing, humming, crystalline plasma orbs computing in 3-D neural networks you see the rear of a console from a 1950's Soviet submarine: Chaotic exposed circuit boards inserted in wobbly slots connected by a tangled web of wires attached to balky plastic connectors fresh out of an Eisenhower-era Heathkit catalogue.
We have become so accustomed to the computer as a flimsy sheet-metal box that looks as if it was carved from a block of feta that we no longer question it. We consider it ground-breaking innovation when someone molds a frontplate that resembles a devil or a Mercedes grille. We, the enthusiast prosumers who live at the cutting edge of hi-tech, have become numbed to the reality that our whirring, howling, sizzling boxes represent Victorian technology completely out of place in the 21st century.
The fundamental design of the computer case is flawed. What demented engineer would take electronic components that generate tremendous heat and only optimally function at barely ambient temperatures then stick them in a sealed metal box with a weeny plastic fan to push a wimpy breeze around? Ah, but there are high-tech alternatives! We can run leaky plastic tubing over hot, live electronics and cool the water in a heater core from an '86 Chevette with even more weeny plastic fans bolted to it. Or we can spend more money than we paid for the entire computer to attach the CPU (only) to a refrigerator compressor. As if all the fans and metal disks spinning at the speed of F1 crankshafts aren't enough cacophony we can now add the rumble of a Whirlpool Side By Side! Oh, and don't forget that you have to coat your entire motherboard with silicon first until it resembles a glazed donut!
The time has come, the walrus said, to trash the existing PC paradigm and start from a clean sheet of... er... a new CAD file. The computer must be redesigned to eliminate all moving parts:
1) When you're engrossed in an RPG or enjoying Pink Floyd concert footage you don't want to hear a wind tunnel whooshing on your desk. A computer should make exactly as much noise as the wood in your desk. That will mean evolving from 1TB, 10,000 rpm whirling dervishes to solid state memory with no moving parts.
2) DX10 video cards are starting to resemble cooling towers. It is patently absurd to incorporate a searing 12-inch monster inside a case that's already overheated and require a 1+ kW PSU that costs as much as the card just to power it all. The video subsystem should be in an external case with ample cooling fins on all sides and powered directly from the wallplug.
3) Motherboards have to grow out of their 2-D infancy. There is no reason to plunk the CPU flat onto the middle of a labyrinthine maze of traces. The CPU should be on a stalk or other configuration that allows it access to the outside of the box and then is encased in a huge passive heatsink resembling the cooling fins from the top end of a Suzuki Bandit 1200S.
4) The computer case must be divided into ergonomic sections. The only part of the case that needs to be immediately accessible to the user is the DVD drive and a couple of buttons. A small case that sits on the desk, just barely large enough to fit the DVD should contain all these functions. The rear of this desk case would be wall-to-wall DVI, USB, et al. connectors. This is then connected to the main case either through a single very long cable or preferably wirelessly, so that the computing heat pump core can be kept away from the user, preferably in another room. Furthermore, the DVD should only spin to quickly transfer all its data to the PC memory, then shut down.
Until we, the consumers, unite to force the manufacturers into developing PCs that are more than just rehashes of the 1972 Xerox Parc, we will continue to struggle with the antiquated Rube Goldbergian hamster cages we have today. A completely new paradigm for personal computing is well overdue. And if the major power-wielders have to be broken up via anti-trust into BabyIntels and BabyMicrosofts, then so be it.
However, I guess it could be worse. The future could bring us polyqubit quantum computers that stop working if you look at them.
|7 User Comment(s) • 6 root comment(s)|
| xts (27) Mar 02, 2007 - 06:49 pm | Edited on Mar 02, 2007 - 06:51 pm|
|» Interesting read but nowhere near a serious treatment...|
You make valid points but you have no clue how complicated computer design is, next the market for PC's is one of the stingiest of all from a cost standpoint and the costs of scientific instrumentation and fabs to design these computational monsters with "victorian era tech" for computational godhood are enormous.
You can't have both a desire for more speed and power to process data and at the same time want a smaller PC case, less heat and noise. The cutting edge will always be "encaged" in the box until the scientific tools and fundamental research is there to make the next leap in cost reduction and manufacturing efficiency beyond the grey box.
Its fundamentally a very complicated scientific issue and you mock the thousands of PHD's that spend every waking moment designing this so you can play faster games and pwn noobs.
It's one thing to criticize PC design, its another to do it from an educated angle.
» Login to reply to this
» Note: You need to be logged in to write a comment!Login here, or if you don't have an account with FiringSquad, register here, it's FREE!
My Media-Blog categories
No categories created yet.