64-bit computing

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Newfie
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64-bit computing

Post by Newfie » Fri Jul 28, 2006 6:55 am

Consider the phrase that Bill Gates supposedly said: "640 KB ought to be enough for anybody!" during the early days of DOS. Around 1993, 640 KB of RAM was getting rather small. Even in the late 80s, some software had trouble working within the 640 KB limit and needed EMS in order to have more RAM than 640 KB.

Now, I present to you a quote that could be spoken with regards to the upcoming 64-bit era of computing:

"17,592,186,044,416 MB of RAM ought to be enough for anybody!"

or

"17,179,869,184 GB of RAM ought to be enough for anybody!"

or

"16,777,216 TB of RAM ought to be enough for anybody!"

etc.

That much RAM, from my point of view, is fascinating and downright colossal.

Do you think we've reached the point where we could finally declare that a certain amount of RAM should be enough RAM for anybody, in any place, in any time?

Thinking of the previous limits, 640 KB would only hold around the equivalent of a 300-page book. The 32-bit limit, 4 GB, could only hold about 100 songs in CD-format.

Now, with the 64-bit RAM limit, you could hold about 3 billion movies, trillions of songs, quadrillions of books, etc. What more could we ask for?

With such an overwhelming and massive RAM limit, I do believe we've finally reached the point where "x-amount of RAM oughta be enough for anybody". At least for one individual computer.

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Post by Anon » Fri Jul 28, 2006 7:39 am

No, because you know that as we get more advanced more will be required. As an example, I have a magazine from 2001-ish which condemns 1ghz CPUs for being too powerful. That wasn't too long ago, so before long we will see that kind of RAM needed

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Post by Alain mary » Fri Jul 28, 2006 9:45 am

i think we should be satisfied with what we have today,you should know that God punish the grreedy person,hoho~~
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Post by starfoxtj » Fri Jul 28, 2006 4:33 pm

You can NEVER say "this much is enough" unless you are referring to the next few years only.

Within 50 years im pretty sure computers (if they even exist in the form they do today) will have hundreds of terabytes, if not exebytes of ram and who knows how much disk space.
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Post by AdamR » Fri Jul 28, 2006 5:00 pm

Anon wrote: No, because you know that as we get more advanced more will be required. As an example, I have a magazine from 2001-ish which condemns 1ghz CPUs for being too powerful. That wasn't too long ago, so before long we will see that kind of RAM needed


I think all of use who are regular computer users and power-users can attest to this fact. I know myself that when I got my "first" computer, ie, one in my own room when I was like 14 or so, I never throught I'd use up the 40GB HDD I had in it.

And for the time, that was true. I'm currently sitting on ~311GB of HDD space, and I'm coming close to needing yet another upgrade. I'll be getting an entirely new system pretty soon, and I'm planning on starting with 1TB of HDD space. By the time I replace the whole thing, I foresee 5TB in it easily ... most likely more than 8GB of RAM depending on the motherboard I select.

And remember, this is just for personal use. Granted, I'm a power-user and sometimes do need high resources, but just imagine server systems out there which will need 10+ TB of RAM.

Moore's Law. It applies to more that just processing transistors.

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Post by Newfie » Fri Jul 28, 2006 8:42 pm

The 640 KB limit: 1981 to 1995, 14 years
The 4 GB limit: 1985 to maybe 2008, 23 years
The 16 EB limit: 2003 to 2???

The first DOS computer offered 64 KB RAM, 10% of the limit
Old 386 computer, 2 MB RAM, about 0.05% of the limit
Early AMD64 computers, 256 MB RAM, about 0.000000001% of the limit

Tracing the average RAM growth rate (these are estimates):

1981: 64 KB
1982-1983: 128 KB
1984-1985: 256 KB
1986: 512 KB
1987-1989: 640 KB
1990-1991: 1 MB
1992: 2 MB
1993-1994: 4 MB
1995: 8 MB
1996: 16 MB
1997-1998: 32 MB
1999: 64 MB
2000-2002: 128 MB
2003: 256 MB
2004-2005: 512 MB
2006: 1 GB

With that, it's a fairly reasonable guess that the amount doubles every 2 years.

2007: 2 GB
2009: 4 GB
2011: 8 GB
2013: 16 GB
2015: 32 GB

and so on... until 2073 when the 16 EB limit would be reached according to the chart's projections.

So, given that even babies born today would be old by the time it would be reached, 16 Exabytes of RAM oughta be enough until everybody that is here now is either very old or dead.

Whereas the original people who had the old DOS computers, many of them are still alive and fairly young, including Tim Patterson, the guy who invented DOS, and Bill Gates, the guy that helped make DOS popular and supposedly made that statement that sounds absurd today.

(young: meaning under 65, the usual retirement/pension age)

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Post by smithy_dll » Sat Jul 29, 2006 1:07 am

Alain mary wrote: i think we should be satisfied with what we have today,you should know that God punish the grreedy person,hoho~~


A push for more efficient computing that uses less power and produces more performance is not greedy. Same with respect to a push for computer storage that takes up less physical space.

The more efficiently we can produce computing power from our natural resources, the less we will hurt the environment in the long run.

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Post by Techie-Micheal » Sat Jul 29, 2006 2:12 am

Newfie wrote: Tracing the average RAM growth rate (these are estimates):

1981: 64 KB
1982-1983: 128 KB
1984-1985: 256 KB
1986: 512 KB
1987-1989: 640 KB
1990-1991: 1 MB
1992: 2 MB
1993-1994: 4 MB
1995: 8 MB
1996: 16 MB
1997-1998: 32 MB
1999: 64 MB
2000-2002: 128 MB
2003: 256 MB
2004-2005: 512 MB
2006: 1 GB

With that, it's a fairly reasonable guess that the amount doubles every 2 years.

2007: 2 GB
2009: 4 GB
2011: 8 GB
2013: 16 GB
2015: 32 GB

and so on... until 2073 when the 16 EB limit would be reached according to the chart's projections.


One thing I haven't seen mentioned is consumer systems. Servers with 4GB of RAM have been "normal" for a few years now. I've heard of servers with 32GB of RAM and some searching around shows an HP server with 64GB of RAM for a minimum of 13Grand USD.
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Post by smithy_dll » Sat Jul 29, 2006 5:01 am

Tracing the average RAM growth rate (these are estimates):


Flawed, you should rather look at the more reliable measure of moore's law which is how many trasistors you can pack onto a chip. (moore's law isn't really a law, but an observation that has held pretty well). The number of transistors packed onto a DRAM chip is growing faster than the number of transistors packed onto a microprocessor.

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Post by Newfie » Sat Jul 29, 2006 5:16 am

What I meant by that was if you bought an average-priced new computer in each of those years, that's how much RAM would usually come with them, even if there was potential to add much more.

ie: the average new computer sold in 1993 would have 4 MB of RAM, even though the motherboard could be upgraded to 64 MB RAM, but how many people ever upgrade their motherboards to the maximum potential RAM?

How many 486s do you know of with 64 MB RAM when they were brand-new in the box? If you took all the 486s ever sold when they were new, I'm fairly sure most of them would have come with only 4 MB RAM. Maybe a few luxury models offered 8 MB, and the cheap ones might have settled for 2 MB. To have 64 MB RAM in 1993 would have been massively expensive.

Ditto for each other year, it's based on the average amount of RAM sold with a new computer at each point in time.

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Post by drathbun » Sat Jul 29, 2006 12:49 pm

Just priced out a Dell server, and I could get 64GB of RAM.

For $15,000 (US). :shock:
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Post by smithy_dll » Sat Jul 29, 2006 11:34 pm

Newfie wrote: What I meant by that was if you bought an average-priced new computer in each of those years, that's how much RAM would usually come with them, even if there was potential to add much more.


It's still wrong, the only value with any statistical basis you could use is moore's law.

The reason is that the bottom line cost on the average computer keeps going down even with inflation. You have to use a quantity with only a single variable, that quantity is the number of transistors you can pack into 1 cm^2 of silicon.

Even then moore's law has only been loosely held to, but exactly upheld, because it is just an observation, it doesn't go "hey wait, you're packing too many transistors onto this silicon wafer, wait 6 months".

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Post by Newfie » Sun Jul 30, 2006 1:09 am

Say if today, some IBM super-geek figured out a way to cram, let's say, 16 GB on a single square centimeter chip (for 16 chips on a single RAM stick, that would total a 256 GB stick). But if only 1% of the United States population/companies could actually afford it, it's not a very good standard, even if it falls in line with Moore's Law.

In essence, it's not about when the technology exists, it's when it is possible for it to be widespread and affordable, and when everyday software would need it.

Even if RAM in excess of 16 EB became affordable, it might be an extra few years before people need it.

With that, AMD and Intel can focus on perfecting and improving the 64-bit architecture instead of going through the pain of trying to make a 128-bit architecture, if the 16 EB of RAM maximum limit should last us for the rest of our lives.

If we could firmly declare that 16 EB of RAM is all that we ever need, and set all the standards so that no computer would ever use more than 16 EB RAM, then the computer world would be consistent, and all computers would eventually have 16 EB RAM, and programmers would then be at liberty to use that much RAM, no less and no more. 64-bit computing would be tried, tested, true, and about 99.9% perfect after many years of debugging and designs.

Each motherboard could simply solder 16 EB RAM, with no upgrade slots, and engineers could focus on cramming 16 EB into a smaller and smaller space, instead of cramming larger amounts of RAM into the same amount of space. 16 EB of RAM might eventually be about the size of a sunflower seed.

If we set the absolute ceiling now, we've got plenty of time to figure out how to live with it for many years to come, since it's way way way more than enough in 2006 and at least for a long time yet.

If we do it right, once we finally hit that ceiling, at least it would be a soft and gentle bump rather than a hard smack.

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Post by Kazer0 » Sun Jul 30, 2006 3:13 am

But then the starship voyager wouldnt be able to run teh holodeck. :P
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Post by Newfie » Sun Jul 30, 2006 4:01 am

It could use multiple computers.

If the holodeck needed 256 EB RAM, 16 separate computer systems could work together to generate the imaginary environment, each one working on its own piece of the "world".

If Captain Janeway wanted to visit a fake Florida, one computer could do Orlando, another could do Miami, yet another could be dedicated to Disneyland, another for Sea World, another for... you get the point. :D

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