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Imperial Research Station A forum for discussing technology and related topics for use in the Traveller Universe

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  #1  
Old January 27th, 2019, 09:54 AM
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Thumbs up Big computers are no problem

It's been a long running complaint and joke about the size of computers in Traveller. As a younger fan, this is why I have no issues with the bulky computers aboard starships. It's largely an issue of power supplies, cooling, and how big a dTon actually is for volume.

https://travellersandbox.blogspot.co...o-problem.html
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Old January 27th, 2019, 12:16 PM
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I agree with your assessment completely.
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Old January 27th, 2019, 12:56 PM
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I just bought a 4 Terabyte hard drive that is about 3 inches square and an inch think for $109.99. Also, remember that the Ohio-class boats were designed for the government, which means that the computers were a minimum of 3 years out of date when first installed, due to the design and bidding process.

I still say that Traveller computers are far too big and expensive, as when Traveller was written, we were still using 80 column punch cards. That is what I was using in 1968-9.

A Windows PC with a 486 processor could be used to replace the computers used on some of the Soviet Union latest ships when it broke up.
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Old January 27th, 2019, 03:55 PM
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Originally Posted by timerover51 View Post
I just bought a 4 Terabyte hard drive that is about 3 inches square and an inch think for $109.99. Also, remember that the Ohio-class boats were designed for the government, which means that the computers were a minimum of 3 years out of date when first installed, due to the design and bidding process.

I still say that Traveller computers are far too big and expensive, as when Traveller was written, we were still using 80 column punch cards. That is what I was using in 1968-9.

A Windows PC with a 486 processor could be used to replace the computers used on some of the Soviet Union latest ships when it broke up.
I'm still not convinced that computers will be that small. First, a lot of that volume in MCC was empty, to make repairs easier when pulling modules. Also, servos and system connections are going to take up volume.

Second, when I was onboard, a cabinet with 50 or so fibre-optic links in two redundant switches was installed in the Missile Compartment. It was about a sixth of the size of junction panel it replaced functionally, but it was still a sizable mount.

We knew everything was obsolete as hell (who uses SCSI and coaxial Ethernet still?), but it was (theoretically) reliable. We blew several power supplies in the upgrade by turning them on and off too frequently. Power and cooling requirements computers have are something often neglected in fiction. To be honest, most Traveller spacecraft must have some kind of amazingly awesome heat dispersal mechanism. Liquid helium cooling for high model number computers would take up that space!
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Old January 27th, 2019, 04:21 PM
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As someone who works with servers, I would say while the computers and technology get smaller, the space allocated to them doesn't get any smaller, it just increases in capability. And since the computer needs to monitor and keep running a fusion power plant, two drive systems, life support, a sensor suite, communications, internal security, and a set of weapons system.

I also recall the Space Shuttle was using an Apollo era computer as the main computer, a really old design. This was because it was hardened against radiation and both the hardware and software had been proven to work correctly.

I for one will not be running my ship on a 486 computer.

I do recall an article in White Dwarf in the early 80s talking about allocating space for computers. And noting that interfaces (i.e. terminals) which require a desk which takes a 1/2 dton of space. each. So that is one thing.
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Old January 27th, 2019, 05:38 PM
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As someone who works with servers, I would say while the computers and technology get smaller, the space allocated to them doesn't get any smaller, it just increases in capability.
Quite.

And since the need for cycles seems to grow more quickly than the capability of a single CPU, computers keeps growing in size.

E.g.:

Note that the power handling equipment in the foreground is part of the power supply to the "data centre" (≈ really big computer) in the background.


This is what is needed to keep your mobile terminal functioning smoothly...
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Old January 27th, 2019, 06:20 PM
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How about we view it this way. I have a main and stand-by computer on the bridge, handling the control of the ship, and monitoring the engine room computers. I have a main and stand-by computer in the engine room, controlling the power plant, maneuver drive, and Jump drive, and being monitored and accepting commands from the bridge computer. I have three smaller computer handling life support, with the bridge computer monitoring them. I have a main and stand-by computer for ship security, which is being monitored by the bridge computer Overall, my numerous computers are equivalent in volume and cost to your single computer.
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Old January 27th, 2019, 07:26 PM
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I don't think the computer is one stand alone device, rather it is the sum total of all of the computerised control systems of a spaceship or starship.
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Old January 27th, 2019, 07:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by timerover51 View Post
I just bought a 4 Terabyte hard drive that is about 3 inches square and an inch think for $109.99. Also, remember that the Ohio-class boats were designed for the government, which means that the computers were a minimum of 3 years out of date when first installed, due to the design and bidding process.

I still say that Traveller computers are far too big and expensive, as when Traveller was written, we were still using 80 column punch cards. That is what I was using in 1968-9.

A Windows PC with a 486 processor could be used to replace the computers used on some of the Soviet Union latest ships when it broke up.
The Corps of Engineers was still using punch-cards and punch-card slides, for various engineering purposes, into the late 1970's. The most recent asbuilt punchcards I maintained were in a 1980 collection within the National Archives system.

University of Alaska Anchorage had a functioning card-reader miniframe as recently as 1988 - It was gone by '92, but in the 80's, as a tween/teen, I made some spare change by carefully typing hand-written code into punch-cards for college students.

The USAF was still using mainframes into the 1990's, as well. (My dad's office at 11AF DE) switched from a Wang mainframe about 1991... Even as he was receiving a "fast" unix-desktop which took 10-20 hours to calculate air-route environmental impact...

Also, note that Vacuum tube computers are, in fact, far more resilient to both power fluctuation and radiation... which is why they're being looked at again.

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2012...rn-vacuum-tube

I read an article in the 1990's about soviet-era mini-tube computers. the tubes were essentially 2D; thicknesses of fractions of an inch.
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Old January 27th, 2019, 09:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aramis View Post
The Corps of Engineers was still using punch-cards and punch-card slides, for various engineering purposes, into the late 1970's. The most recent asbuilt punchcards I maintained were in a 1980 collection within the National Archives system.

University of Alaska Anchorage had a functioning card-reader miniframe as recently as 1988 - It was gone by '92, but in the 80's, as a tween/teen, I made some spare change by carefully typing hand-written code into punch-cards for college students.

The USAF was still using mainframes into the 1990's, as well. (My dad's office at 11AF DE) switched from a Wang mainframe about 1991... Even as he was receiving a "fast" unix-desktop which took 10-20 hours to calculate air-route environmental impact...

Also, note that Vacuum tube computers are, in fact, far more resilient to both power fluctuation and radiation... which is why they're being looked at again.

https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2012...rn-vacuum-tube

I read an article in the 1990's about soviet-era mini-tube computers. the tubes were essentially 2D; thicknesses of fractions of an inch.
I understand that vacuum tube computers are much better at handling radiation, and that the Mig-25 Foxbat's electronics were all vacuum tube. That is all I will say about it.
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