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what's going on with processor speeds?

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by ~Kev H~, May 10, 2005.

  1. ~Kev H~

    ~Kev H~
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    As my laptop is coming up for 3 years old I wondered what you can get these days for the same sort of money.

    I bought a Dell inspiron before coming to uni so it must've been say august/september 2002, and it's a Pentium 4-mobile 2.0Ghz.

    I looked on the Dell site and even their high-end laptops now come with something like a 1.7 Ghz cpu, to upgrade it to a 2.1Ghz costs an additional £400 :eek: :eek: Saying that, it's a Pentium "770" chip, is that considerable better than pentium 4's were?

    Anyway what's going on?? I know that the doubling of speed every 18months doesnt hold true anymore but it seems like laptop processors have gone just-about nowhere in nearly 3 years !!

    Anybody know what we can expect in the near future? is there some alternative technology they're busy working away on?

    Kev
     
  2. michaelm

    michaelm
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    64 Bit processors are now "all the rage" with a 64 Bit version of Win XP due any day now and the "brand new" Longhorn OS due next year.
     
  3. apul

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    You can still get P4 and AMD laptops with 3GHz+ but these eat up power. So many of the more portable ones today are mobile processors that save battery life.
    64bit should be mainstream soon, I wonder if I can hold of an upgrade until then :rolleyes:
     
  4. rOAdeh

    rOAdeh
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    without getting too technical actual clock speeds aren't the only factor that determines a processor's speed. Due to constraints of current silicon technology even desktop pcs are limited at the clock speeds they can reach (hence intel recently canning 4ghz). Instead nowadays we seem to be heading towards multiple processor cores (ie 2 CPUs on a single chip) or CPUs which in simple terms can perform more operations clock per clock - so although they are 'only' operating at the same or slower clock speeds, they actually are significantly faster.

    As said, in terms of laptops, the future is to keep the chip as cool and low power as possible (to reduce laptop cooling requirements and prolong battery life), keeping clock speed down helps this and so other advances such as 64bit computing will provide the expected speed increases. When software catches up with hardware and we see most applications being developed with 64bit processors in mind then the benefits should become much more apparent.

    HTH

    Ben
     
  5. Nobber22

    Nobber22
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    If your own laptop is still going strong, I'd forget about upgrading it. As rOAdeh says there's not much more speed to be had out there at 32bit. If I were in your shoes, I'd by some more RAM - get it up around 1GB. Also if you want to, you could format the laptop and reinstall XP. A good cleanup works wonders. :thumbsup:

    I'm definately not going to be an early adopter of any 64bit computing on my desktop and laptop. Life's too short to muck about with early release Microsoft products! :lesson:
     
  6. ~Kev H~

    ~Kev H~
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    But why is it that we are reaching the limit of silicon technology? Is it just that they cant work out how to get the heat away quick enough? I wouldn't have thought that would be a limiting factor ?

    On the upgrading front, I have upgraded the RAM from 256 to 640Mb and that made a really noticeable difference :thumbsup: , from what I have been told there is nothing I can do about the Graphics card it's got because its built into the motherboard (is that right?). A friend suggested replacing the 4200rpm hard-drive with a faster one (and hence re-installing XP) I know you can get 7200rpm laptop drives but I think he was on about 10,000rpm drives :eek:

    Cheers for the explanations :smashin: - Kev
     
  7. mjn

    mjn
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    heat and power consumption are the biggest problems with silicon cores.
     
  8. overkill

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    Yup. Hence they are moving towards organic chipsets.
     
  9. pjclark1

    pjclark1
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    I agree, and so does my pal Adolph Hitler!
     
  10. Dr Diversity

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    ?? Don't get it??

    Anyway, unless you laptop no longer does what you want then stick with it and save your money. Trashing the hard drive and rebuilding the software from the ground up (or a supplied recovery CD ROM) will redeliver the original speed.
     
  11. Nobber22

    Nobber22
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    See my sig.
    :D
     
  12. rOAdeh

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    Well you asked for it...

    Current processors are made using a process called DUVL (Deep Ultra Violet Lithography) i won't go into it, you can google it if you are really interested, which is used to create current chips. Some recent cores (Intel's Prescott most notably) are already pumping out around 120w of heat and are reaching the limit as to what can be reasonably be cooled using standard heatsink and fans The alternative is watercooling (or even phasechange) which just aren't practical to sell over the shelf for obvious reasons.

    One way to reduce to reduce heat is to move down to a smaller manufacturing process (recently AMD did this from Newcastle cores to Winchester) by going from 0.13 micron to 0.09 micron. Normally moving down to a smaller process allows a manufacturer to fit more transistors on a given space (allowing for an increase in processing power although a heat increase as well) and often reduce the core voltage due to the smaller distances, which in turn reduces the heat output.

    DUVL is now struggling to create current chips (and may already have been dropped?). This is resulting in 'leakage' with electrons being able to jump between different tracks in the chip (obviously with potentially disastrous consequences) so they are moving (have moved?) towards EUVL (Extreme Ultra Violet Lithography) which uses shorter wavelengths of light to carve into the chip. The future after this possibly exists with quantum lithography but that's not certain at the moment. I'm not sure what the limit of silicon will be but have heard estimates of around 10GHz. Whether this will ever reach the domestic user i don't know as it will probably require only the best silicon compounds and thus either be unavailable or simply outpriced out of the standard market.

    The long term future as already stated lies probably in the form of organic computing (again lots of interesting stuff on this available online), they've already had some success from what i know by looking at the way certain compounds bond together. Just as a random fact, if you took a bag of sugar and used it to represent a DNA based computer, it could hold all the information of every single electronic computer ever built (whether that's true or not i don't know but it sounds impressive :))

    There's also the option of optical/photonic (?) processors using light rather than electricity to send data. And in the much longer term possibly quantum computing (if they ever determine whether it can actually be done!).. if that ever does prove to be possible then it's certainly the most exciting by far which the amount of potential processing power it could have.

    As i said though, due to this current problem of heat, many manufacturers are looking at trying to improve data prediction in the processor (called pipelining) so that the real delay (caused by having to retrieve data from memory) is done before it is needed and thus slow the system down while it waits. This combined with dual core processors, the ability to handle more complex instruction sets (more operations in one go) and the general shift to 64bit computing should mean that clock speeds will actually only play a minor part in the numbers game of processing power.

    If i've made that coherent and not too technical then it'll be a miracle but certainly give a look at sites like howstuffworks if you want to know more (half of this is probably shamelessly stolen from there as i did a presentation on it last year for uni)
     
  13. eviljohn2

    eviljohn2
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    Excellent and very interesting post rOAdeh. :clap:

    There are plenty of exciting semiconductor developments just around the corner although I don't think a lot of people actually appreciate the leaps in design and fabrication that have come in even the last decade. :)
     
  14. Marc

    Marc
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    for a while, laptops did rival desktops for processor speed, but the only way to make it cost effective was to put a pentium 4 desktop processor inside the laptop, which then needed a very huge, loud fan to keep it cool, which meant that a) the laptops sounded like a lawnmower and b) they weighed an absolute ton and c) the batteries lasted about an hour. Not only that, the fan still wasn't enough to keep them as cool as they needed to be, which meant they were quite often prone to instability, and some models could actually physically burn you if you touched the bottom!

    Since a 3ghz processor, is in the most part redundant for anyone who isn't a hardcore gamer, and most laptops aren't suitable for gaming anyway, it was found that you could much better results by using a lower clocked "centrino" or "pentium-m" processor, which lead to lighter, cooler, more stable laptops with battery life up to 5 or 6 hours in some cases.

    I've used both a "desktop replacement" style laptop of 3ghz, and a portable centrino based 1.7ghz laptop, and i have to say, the centrino wins hands down in every way.
     
  15. hornydragon

    hornydragon
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    the next big leap will be from the electron, a large prticle by some standards to the photon a much faster, smaller particle............Also developments in blu laser was slowed by certain technical issues, to keep development going there had to be a change in tack, from dropping the micron architecture, there are also alot more processors out there these days the humble PC are not the only place they are found....................so a lot of development has gone towards small cheap processors for mobile and none PC apps..........
     
  16. eviljohn2

    eviljohn2
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    Rather than using the photon I expect the advances will come from other forms of nanoscience. It's the quintessential "top-down" or "bottom-up" choice of either miniaturising bigger things or designing small things from scratch, once we get down to the quantum level properly (semiconductors have been incorporating quantum effects for years) we'll start seeing a whole new branch of technology taking off with more than 2 logic states, nanocomputing and so on. It's a very exciting time to be alive. :)
     
  17. hornydragon

    hornydragon
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    John i am having a hell of a time with 2 logic states at the moment!!!!!!
     
  18. eviljohn2

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    Thankfully I've left those days behind for the time being!

    I think quantum computers are hypothesised as having 6 logic states - using 2 fermions (such as quarks or electrons) in a "bit" each with possible spin up or down states.

    There go 101 good reasons why I shouldn't have studied so much quantum mechanics, particle physics and thermodynamics in the last few years. Think yourself lucky! :suicide:
     
  19. hornydragon

    hornydragon
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    There also very good reasons why i should not be using 114% of my silicon area too............
     
  20. ~Kev H~

    ~Kev H~
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    :smashin: Cheers roadeh, that's exactly the sort of amalgamation of information I was after but I guess couldnt be bothered to peice together by trawling the internet :blush: I'm definately going to have a read up on some of these future technologies, just because it sounds so interesting!!

    Thanks for all the comments, I dont think there's a single question that couldnt be answered by somebody on here.. Isnt it awesome! :thumbsup:

    Kev
     
  21. Pbryanw

    Pbryanw
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    Frightening more like :eek: ....haven't you seen Terminator 2 - For Skynet substitute Avforums :)
     

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