Sunday, April 13, 2014

The following table details some of the hardware I have used in the PC era. It begins with the venerable Compaq luggable that launched the "clone" wars. I've seen a lot of hardware along the way. In the early era these brands come to mind: Everex, ALR, Northstar, Gateway 2000. Each row in the table shows what were compelling upgrade points along the path. At each step, the blazingly fast new designs left previous generations in the dust. Somehow, what had been a pleasure to use now seemed to be a chore, or too slow to bootup. What had been fast, was now painfully slow. I hope I can add benchmarks to put a mathematical value on each row. Perhaps, by comparing the next row to the previous, or some other baseline.

The genesis for making this table was XP's expiration. That didn't turn out to be as big of a deal as I thought it would. The heartbeep SSL bug made bigger news. XPs overall worldwide usage is estimated as low as 10% currently. The same estimates peg all Linux at 5%. Of course, I use Slackware Linux as my daily OS. XPs expiration forced many to upgrade to marginally better hardware, at least, for those using the Windows platform. I rolled out just over a dozen machines that use i5 CPUs. They have 16G RAM typically. That is a factor of 8 times more over the standard amount that I had incorporated at the previous level (i.e. at Core 2 E6600)

As I was finishing the rollout of the latest generation of PCs with the evolutionary step in operating systems, I had two main thoughts. First, would this be the last hurrah for desktop PCs? Will everyone demand tablets? Will Android and iOS eclipse the Microsoft juggernaut that lasted for a generation? My guess is that the days of PCs as we have known them are limited. Second, I thought how the Windows interface has gotten progressively worse. These are subjective opinions, I know. But I find that Windows 8 is not an evolutionary step that is better than Windows 7. Likewise, Windows 7's interface was worse than XP. I may be an old fogey, but give me consistency for the best productivity. These upgrades have pulled the rug out from under users for no go reason. Again, just my opinion.

8088 clocked @ 4.77 MHztyp. less than 640k8-bit compromise of 16-bit 8086; 8087 math coprocessor optional. Used in the Compaq "Luggable".
80286typ. 1MB, OS limited use beyond 640kIBM "AT." These machines typically had sockets for 1 MB RAM.
80386 DX @up to 20 MHz1MB designs still prevalentincluded virtual 8086 mode; first to use 32-bit mode; still required a coprocessor for fast math functions; a very important chip. Motherboards could support 1+4MB RAM on proprietary buses.
80486 DX4 to 8 MB RAMupgrade to 80386 included on board math coprocessor. Rolled out in Gateway 2000 desktops.
PentiumFirst machine outfitted with 32 MB RAMOS: Windows NT 3.51
dual Pentium Pro @200 MHz32 to 512 MBdual CPUs in the "686" era kicked the Pentium's ass. OS: Windows NT 4.0
Celeron w/ 128k L1 cache @800 MHz128 - 512 MBbudget chip in the "686" line disabled support for multi-CPU in hardware. Motherboard chipset support for SDRAM. These boards were plagued by a bad capacitor problem that caused premature failure.
Celeron single CPU upgrade, w/ 256k cache @1300 Mhz512 - 1.5 GBMotherboard offered supported for SDRAM clocks and ecc memory
Pentium 4Ran hot compared to predecessors
dual Pentium III each w/ 512k cache @up to 1400 MHz1 - 2 GBdual chip configuration was good at keeping the machine responsive to the user. Path to memory was showing its age when compared to P4 designs.
Pentium M @up to 1870 MHz1 - 2 GBFirst single core chip to do better than P4. Dell D610 used this chip.
Core Duo2 - 4 GBDual core CPU with good mobile potential. Dell D620 used the T2400.
Core 22 - 8 GB64-bit CPUs spurred the move to 64-bit OSs. E6600, E6750, etc.
i34 - 8 GB22nm architecture saves power on mobile platform. i3-3227U has 4 cores @1900 MHz
i516 - 32 GBi5-3570k, i5-4670k. XP's premature expiration spurred a hardware upgrade to Windows 7, 64 bit at many offices committed to using the Microsoft platform.