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  #31  
Old January 31st, 2019, 01:33 PM
kilemall kilemall is offline
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So how would a more modern example/idea of how computers run programs today change Traveller combat, considering from what you said about 1970s computers running different programs at different times?

Phew, that's part modeling computer operations and part game value/flow.


For one thing, the CT computers sort of model the small memory limitations of those machines. Nowadays both memory and storage is cheap- modern limitations are more a factor of creating incredibly complex processes that churn through massive data and/or is expected to all be realtime.


And doing something like analyzing a planetary survey data set is a different workload type then coordinating a battleship's power, fire control and maneuver, you would tend to have optimized machines for either.



The little snippets I saw of TNE computers in the catalog book is the sort of thing I would lean towards if you were wanting to be simulationist in that it deals with the time factor and greatly powerful machines per TL increase.


Back in the day, as noted the Complexity factor from Space Opera and Gurps Cyberpunk seemed to offer the best capture of how to differentiate capacity levels without getting into specific numbers that looked ridiculous within 5 years.


I always loved the fidgety detail of the LBB8 robotic computers, that seems to give a progression that while not capturing the exponential increase in power, at least gives an internally consistent roadmap to processing and OS increases.


From a game perspective the Mongoose computers are IMO 'good enough' for play purposes, especially giving a consistent look and interaction for ship, personal, ship/vehicle, robotic and cybernetic computing.


For retrofitting CT computers, I went with the sensor idea as mentioned before, with more complex sensor rules I'm not going into here.


I also did an option where the idea is the full cost computers are spaceworthy mission critical systems (evidenced by them functioning after taking 5 hits that would ruin most weapons or drive systems on an ACS), but you could buy cheaper ones that drop in price by a factor of 10 each that drops in reliability.



So ultimately you could run your ship with a commodity machine but one hit and your system is gone, and to get redundancy you will be using more space to house several computers.


Perhaps define each computer model level as a complexity capability and then matching workloads to them. Say, a Model/1 is a baseline and is functionally equivalent to the USN's early UYKs, good for navigation, basic sensors, fire solutions and engineering, and later ones are exponential power to that standard.


Maybe something like the model is both the base and the exponent, so 22, 33, 44,etc.


Probably need to figure out workloads based on ship systems, EW challenge (TL differences would probably be much larger), and analysis workload- something that bogs a Model/3 for days might be minutes for a Model/4 and seconds for a Model/5.


Finally, you could treat the Model number as a computery form of INT and do a lot of task rolling off that. Would give you fast shorthand as to the AI problem solving and 'understanding' the computer has- makes for a definitely clear delineation between TLs and what you can expect those machines to be able to do.


Just think, Watson at it's best now would be a Model/3, so INT3.



I know that breaks the traditional TL timeline, but heck RL computing broke that some time ago, IMO might as well get scifi and deal with the talking buggers.
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Old January 31st, 2019, 04:25 PM
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One other thought about Moore's Law- this is all based on relatively cheap silicon. There are more expensive and rare metals to base our machines on that can switch faster and/or take more heat. Exploitation of other planets and/or asteroids may open up options. How much heat can an Iridium-based computer take?
"Moore's Law" as originally intended was not that transistor density would increase by a factor of two every 18 months, how it is usually quoted, but that the cost of producing a given density of transistors would decrease by a factor of two every 18 months. I think that was only ever intended to be an observation rather than trying to state a physical law (which of course it is not). The result of that at TL15 is that 7 or 5 nanometer is the smallest feature size available for CPUs, but such CPUs can be 3d printed on a home 3d printer for almost free.

The way this was explained in our own version of the traveller universe is that Earth had a particular set of circumstances and technological push that made the development of extremely high density computational (and communication) devices advantageous but very rare in the Imperium - it isn't a singular technology that got real-world Earth to where it is now, but devoting a surprising amount of the economic output of earth to developing a broad set of related technologies. It isn't that much of a stretch to imagine that Earth would develop this but the dominant spaceflight technology would be Vilani-style and that the Vilani simply never devoted such a fraction of their economic output to it.

That is quite a bit of economic handwavium, but no more so than jump drives.
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  #33  
Old January 31st, 2019, 04:45 PM
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Maybe something like the model is both the base and the exponent, so 22, 33, 44,etc.


Probably need to figure out workloads based on ship systems, EW challenge (TL differences would probably be much larger), and analysis workload- something that bogs a Model/3 for days might be minutes for a Model/4 and seconds for a Model/5.
The nn progression yields 1, 4, 27, 256, 3125, 46656, and if you take complexity to be represented by performance, Earth between 1980 and 2019 had a much larger jump than 1:46656 (that'd be 1 mflops to 46 gflops - and it was really more like 50 kflops to ~6 tflops if you consider double precision fp multiply-accumulates - that's 1:120 million, comparing an 8087 to a Volta GPU, or something like that). If we started in 1980 at model 1 for computers, we'd be at around model 8.6 now.

Last edited by sudnadja; January 31st, 2019 at 04:50 PM.. Reason: Corrected, performance scaling for real world earth was 3 orders of magnitude low
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  #34  
Old January 31st, 2019, 05:09 PM
wellis wellis is offline
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In most scenarios, and the rules, what is the biggest change between say a TL 7 computer vs say a TL 15 computer?

Like if you were to equip one ship with TL 15 computers and another with say TL 7 computers, what would be the difference between the capabilities of the computers be and how would it affect gameplay?

Is the biggest difference in how much space it takes and how much memory it can store or something?
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Old January 31st, 2019, 05:52 PM
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The nn progression yields 1, 4, 27, 256, 3125, 46656, and if you take complexity to be represented by performance, Earth between 1980 and 2019 had a much larger jump than 1:46656 (that'd be 1 mflops to 46 gflops - and it was really more like 50 kflops to ~6 tflops if you consider double precision fp multiply-accumulates - that's 1:120 million, comparing an 8087 to a Volta GPU, or something like that). If we started in 1980 at model 1 for computers, we'd be at around model 8.6 now.

I'm aware of the scaling, I would nonetheless tend to think it's not all that far off as a LOT of modern computing is wasted.


The complexity and/or data loads they are asked to do are a lot less massaged/filtered/managed and cheaper in terms of programmer/hours and optimization, resulting in less real world performance per dollar/credit then a straight line approximation of processor capability would seem to suggest.
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Old January 31st, 2019, 05:53 PM
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Originally Posted by wellis View Post
In most scenarios, and the rules, what is the biggest change between say a TL 7 computer vs say a TL 15 computer?

Like if you were to equip one ship with TL 15 computers and another with say TL 7 computers, what would be the difference between the capabilities of the computers be and how would it affect gameplay?

Is the biggest difference in how much space it takes and how much memory it can store or something?

Depends on which version of the game you play.


Biggest one that seems to go across all versions are limits to how big a jump program you can run.
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Old January 31st, 2019, 06:50 PM
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I'm aware of the scaling, I would nonetheless tend to think it's not all that far off as a LOT of modern computing is wasted.


The complexity and/or data loads they are asked to do are a lot less massaged/filtered/managed and cheaper in terms of programmer/hours and optimization, resulting in less real world performance per dollar/credit then a straight line approximation of processor capability would seem to suggest.
It depends a little on what "wasted" means, too. It can be very computationally intensive to do voice recognization and natural language processing and actually getting very little information to the computer to process. "What is the square root of 691?" takes orders of magnitude more to recognize the meaning of the voice saying that than it does to compute a square root.

That's not really universally true, though. Running post-Minkowski nbody at high precision (which would be either a nav or predict function) really would take much more computational power than 1980s systems had available for real time applications. Even decoding a single H.265 video frame is something that would take a 1980s era computer - if it were even possible given memory constraints - months to do, something that is done easily in real time now, and much of that is purely availability of computational resources. I think in general when the problem is a fundamentally computational one, the wasted resources aren't a major fact. Performing 100 billion floating point matrix inner products / matrix transform vector really are going to be millions of times faster on a modern computer (with GPU) than an 8087 equipped PC.

I'd expect that the performance critical parts of whatever software needs to be run wouldn't be that inefficient - but I think it's fair game to describe whatever limitation is needed to justify the larger physical computer.
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Old February 1st, 2019, 01:41 PM
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So how would a more modern example/idea of how computers run programs today change Traveller combat, considering from what you said about 1970s computers running different programs at different times?
well, MgT handles this by saying that the limiting factor of a computer (and the primary stat that increases with Model and TL) is "Bandwidth" or simultaneous processing power. data storage capacity is explicitly said to be "effectively unlimited" by TL9, and a Library program is included as standard on the ships computer.

basically, the ship can have as many programs installed as it wants, bit can only have so many running at the same time (for example, it might be able to run Fire control/2, or evade/2, but if it runs both at same time it can only run FC/1 and evade/1. this creates options and tactical choices for the players, in letting them decide what to run, or what not to run, etc.
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Old February 2nd, 2019, 12:03 AM
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In most scenarios, and the rules, what is the biggest change between say a TL 7 computer vs say a TL 15 computer?

Like if you were to equip one ship with TL 15 computers and another with say TL 7 computers, what would be the difference between the capabilities of the computers be and how would it affect gameplay?

Is the biggest difference in how much space it takes and how much memory it can store or something?
The Model/n rating is standardized across tech levels -- a Model/1 at TL15 has the same capabilities as a Model/1 at TL5. In practice, the TL5 version will be a multi-ton behemoth of vacuum tubes and magnetic-core memory, but it will do everything the TL15 version would. Might need a dedicated extra Energy Point from the power plant to drive it though...

The TL15 version of a Model/1 is an emulator app running on the captain's Space-iPhone.
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Old February 2nd, 2019, 12:09 AM
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The Model/n rating is standardized across tech levels -- a Model/1 at TL15 has the same capabilities as a Model/1 at TL5. In practice, the TL5 version will be a multi-ton behemoth of vacuum tubes and magnetic-core memory, but it will do everything the TL15 version would. Might need a dedicated extra Energy Point from the power plant to drive it though...

The TL15 version of a Model/1 is an emulator app running on the captain's Space-iPhone.
So essentially the lower tech computer requires more space and energy to run? Does something like its interface also potentially affect how well you can read info, or how much space that takes (since Cepheus Engine/Mongoose Trav 1e notes that more advanced terminals can have holographic interfaces that take up far less space than physical keyboards and CRT monitora)?
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