Ramblings from the Warrior's Den
Monday, August 02, 2004
Good Things Come to Those Who Wait...

This particular post at Robert Scoble's Blog (Yeah, I know, I'm stuck in a rut. Need to find some new tech Blogs to read) came up as a topic if conversation tonight at the Red Robin get-together following tonight's NETDA meeting. Another example that came up was digital video editing. For quite a while, it was an expensive proposition, with a well-equipped Amiga and a Video Toaster running close to the five-figure range. Nowdays, a $500 Mini-DV camcorder and some relatively inexpensive editing software will get you the same, if not better results (see also: Channel 9.)

If you want to get into sligtly less practical examples, take a look at supercomputers. These used to be big, expensive behemoths that took extreme measures for cooling in order to keep them from melting themselves. I remember back when I went to high school, on a couple of occasions I got to see the Thinking Machines CM-5, Cray T3D and some of the other massively parallel supercomputers at Los Alamos. The CM5 is probably still the single most impressive (if not particularly practical) computer I've ever seen. But now, these behemoth supercomputers are pretty much a thing of the past, as people have figured out that for the millions of dollars you'd spend on that, you can buy a few thousand off-the-shelf PCs, cluster them, and pick up a couple of teraflops of power with money to spare, and a lot less maintenance hassles to boot. I haven't really kept up with supercomputing recently, but Cray (or some entity bearing the name, as the company has changed hands a time or two over the years) is still in the business, and will probably be able to continue to remain there for a while in keeping people's legacy UNICOS apps running (most of which, oddly enough, are written in FORTRAN.) Even so, I don't think we'll ever see anything that comes close to the CM-5 ever again. It's just not practical,

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