Backing Into A Deadend

What Do I Need This For?

(If you haven’t already, see Intel Gives AMD A Christmas Present. The subject of the piece is an interview by another website of an Intel PR person.)

(when asked why the P4 is a must have) “. . . video editing, MP3 ripping, and intense 3-D games. We have been showing demos of Macromedia’s next Shockwave plug-in, which will bring scalable resolution mesh 3D technology to the Internet. This stuff is going to change the 2-D Shockwave games you see on the web today, and Pentium 4’s floating point performance will rock on this stuff.

MP3 ripping and intense 3-D games. Just what every business wants for its employees. Gee, why didn’t Intel list 3-D Internet porn, too?

Actually, they did. 🙂

The sad truth is those applications would probably be the only times the average business employee would ever really benefit from a Willy (or any other high-end CPU). Pretty few business users need extraordinary floating point performance. For that matter, outside of families with gamers, pretty few home users need extraordinary floating point performance.

Sure, graphics professionals and the engineers need all the power they can get, but how many of them are out there compared to all the Web-and-Word business users out there?

Sure, gamers need all the power they can get, but how many of them are out there compared to all the Mom-and-Dads doing email, eshopping and efinance?

Finally, how much wonderful 3-D stuff can you get out of a 56K modem? Or even a tiny share of a business T1?

The reality is we’re hitting bottlenecks, and it’s going to start hurting big-time, maybe for a long time.

The Next Computing Revolution

The future of computing power is video (even better, 3-D video): making it and sending it all around.

This means two things:

  1. You have to have mainstream applications that use video heavily and/or let you manipulate video easily and

  2. You have to have the bandwidth for everybody to shoot all that video all around.

In short, when any person can become his or her own television producer, that’s the next revolution.

We have neither now, and probably won’t for quite a while. Cable/DSL is no answer; that’s just less inadequate.

Do you know when the average person is going to need all this firepower?

When you can send full-screen, full-motion, no hassle video messages to Grandma. When you can check video feeds of the mall to see that Johnny’s OK (or how long the lines are in the stores). When video messages become as common as email. And when doing any of these costs next to nothing.

Bandwidth Bottleneck

The hardware is getting there, the software isn’t, but that can change fairly quickly. Bandwidth is the bottleneck.

That will come eventually, but eventually is going to take a long time. You can’t wire up your country for fiber optics in five minutes, maybe not even five years.

You have a chicken-and-the-egg situation. Reinventing the Internet in fiber optics is going to cost mucho mucho dinero, and it’s rough gambling hundreds of billions of dollars for folks who don’t even know they need it, and probably won’t pay much for it when they figure out they do.

Networking gamers really are on the cutting-edge in this arena. Outside of some business video-conferencing people, they’re the only ones interested in this. For now.

Unfortunately, it’s rough seeing a U.S. Senator (or your country’s equivalent) demanding fiber optics because their nation’s Quake players face ruinous foreign competition without it. 🙂

The computer industry better start lobbying big-time to get these connections fast and/or get real inventive in coming up with applications that otherwise require massive firepower, or they are going to be in for a rough time for a long time trying to sell expensive new hardware to the average person, business or home.

Email Ed

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