Monday, 15 December 2014

Random Observations: On Bit Rates

English: A visual representation of my connect...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I was watching my beloved - and soon to be replaced - Samsung copying a file over to my memory key and idly watching the nifty little data rate graph gadget that Microsoft has added to Windows 8 letting me know it was copying at a little over 10 Mbps or 10 megabits per second.

It reminded me of an argument I had back when Unisys (showing my age, I can actually remember Sperry, Burroughs and Rand) released a 'mainframe on a desktop' and I was editing a computer magazine. Pal Paul Lynch was GM of Saudi mainframe software company Al Falak and poo pooed my enthusiasm for this latest innovation with, 'Listen, when your desktop machine can manage the IBM 3090's 3 Megabits per second throughput, you can start talking to me about mainframes on a desktop.'

The IBM 3090 600E was the daddy of all mainframes in the late '80s. This was it, as good as it got; a ten million dollar room full of quietly humming cabinets that supported a stunning 256 Megabytes of storage. It streamed data to tape at an amazing 1.25 Mbps and its processor core clocked at a stellar 69 MHz. And its processor crashed through a blinding 10 MIPS (million instructions per second).

To put this in context, when we're looking at this gargantuan processing power in today's context that's something in the order of a singing birthday card.

The Samsung's replacement (Samsung, having made for me pretty much the perfect notebook in the shape of the Series 5 Ultra, if you discount the issue of Chuck The Trackpad, has now stopped making notebooks and only makes tablets and phones.) has up to 8 Gbytes of RAM, 256 Gbytes of onboard solid state storage and its 4Ghz processor runs, as far as I can tell from the confusing rash of conflicting numbers I can find online, at something like 52,000 MIPS. In short, it could execute every single instruction ever processed by every 3090 ever, take time off to eat a doughnut and take a leisurely coffee before having the job finished before its scheduled lunchtime nap.

I am glad to say it weighs a little less than an IBM 3090, too. And doesn't require water cooling, which is also nice...

1 comment:

Rupert Neil Bumfrey said...

Who recalls the first #laser scanning EPOS in UK?

Believe it or not run by me in sleepy #Folkestone, when we had to use Securicor to deliver disks to IBM Warwick for processing over the weekend - we subsequently received kilo's of print-out the following Tuesday!

Few believed my evangelism for bar-codes - beat that McNabb!

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