Is tech slowing down?

Posted: March 13, 2005 in Uncategorized

Almost three years ago, I bought a Pentium Northwood 1.6A just before it was decommissioned…got a great deal, $138 shipped. I also got a good deal on a gig of Crucial PC2700 and dropped it all on an Asus P4B-533.  Then I adjusted the RAM timings and overclocked that mofo to 2.4G, the speed of which at that time was the fastest available CPU (but I saved well over $500 by overclocking). Thrilling, no?

Well, I’m still using that setup. I considered upgrading, but there doesn’t seem to be enough incentive to get me to spend hundreds of dollars again. All of my current games run OK, even with a clunky old Ti4200 videocard. Heck, even Halo runs fine.

Here’s the issue: Intel cancels the 4G processor, sez they are instead going for dual-core technology. Plus, they’ve got that whole 64-bit thang that they feel they need to do to compete with AMD. The best they’ve got is the Extreme Edition 3.46G, but at $1000 per unit plus the high cost of a mobo that supports 1066 FSB puts it way out of reach. Non-EE chips that would actually show a significant speed boost over my current system start at $300 plus the cost of 800 FSB mobo and new PC3200. Now Intel announces a new 600 series and new EE series procs, but the new 660 is a slower clock speed of 3.6G, and just doubling the L2 cache…which will help in Photoshop and video editing, but no gang-busters. The new EE quadruples the L2 cache and gives a 300MHz speed increase, but that’s it. The only real significant advantage to these procs is support for 64-bit extensions, but with 95% of the software out there still not supporting dual-CPU advantages and still coded at 32-bit, this power is mostly wasted.

Meanwhile, AMD hasn’t done much more since last year other than to come out with an ever-so-slightly faster FX processor, and considering it’s also at $1000 per, I just say no. Even their non-FX 2.4G processors are still running at $400-600.

Now we find out that nVidia is going to skip the GPU cycle. Why? Because they apparently have little left to fear from ATI. They’ve decided to go the route of PCI-Express with SLI. So instead of selling your old card and buying the latest and greatest, now you can buy TWO of the latest and greatest, and get much more than a measily 10% increase in performance that you would normally get when upgrading. Of course, these cards run at $400-500 each, plus buying the mobo that supports it. Still, unless ATI comes up with something, nVidia’s SLI solution crushes them on speed. Otherwise, we don’t hear anything from them on next-gen GPUs

Where am I going with this? Well, it’s probably one of two things (or both…)

1) They’ve all reached their limits, they can’t squeeze any more performance, so they’re trying to innovate, or
2) Something is about to happen a year or two from now, so everybody is waiting…and this way they don’t have to spend the R&D, or do the regular price cuts of poducts as newer products are released, since the newer products are barely improvements over the older ones.

So I think I’ll stick with what I have right now. Oh, I’ll probably get a much faster videocard a few months from now, but otherwise my machine is fine. Tech just seems to have slowed way down lately…I don’t want to end up getting new gear that will become obsolete within a year. I’m use to having the three-year cycle.

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