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  #41  
Old February 2nd, 2019, 12:23 AM
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Originally Posted by wellis View Post
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)?
That relationship was established in MegaTraveller, and persists through TNE & T4.

It wasn't in CT nor T20.
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  #42  
Old February 2nd, 2019, 12:58 AM
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Originally Posted by aramis View Post
That relationship was established in MegaTraveller, and persists through TNE & T4.

It wasn't in CT nor T20.
Not explicitly. But the Model/1 is available at TL5, and the LBB3 definition of TL5 (enabling "radio" but not "television") suggests that at that TL it won't be built using transistors, and that the user interface will probably involve Nixie Tubes and a Teletype printer. A library of printed manuals with tables and charts (microfiche, maybe) would be needed to decode the output.

Serious dieselpunk starship designers use mechanical/hydraulic computers, though. They were good enough for battleship gunlaying, why not use them to calculate orbits and Jump navigation? You'd need Computer Operators based on the computer tonnage, like Engineers but with Mechanical skill.

...and then cross this with the Flash Gordon thread.

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  #43  
Old February 2nd, 2019, 10:38 AM
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I'm a bit late to the discussion, but here are my experiences with the one big machine I was a console operator on.

A sub-contractor hired some university students to help with monitoring a Cray YMP-2, and ther gear. While the Cray was the largest computer I ever dealt with, the tape drive data tower was substantionally larger, along with the multiple cabinets full of hard drives. It was also liquid cooled. The entire computer room, we were in a smaller room to one side with windows ketting us see all of the computers and assesories, was over 100' wide by over 100' deep.

It modeled tornados and hurricanes. Depending on the size of the data set pulled from the tapes, it could take a few hours to several days. Other data sets were kept on the hard drives.

I don't remember the specs for the I/O parts.
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  #44  
Old February 3rd, 2019, 05:12 AM
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Originally Posted by JimMarn View Post
Cray YMP-2

I don't remember the specs for the I/O parts.
The YMP series debuted in 1988 - and while the laptop/desktop many of us uses to browse this board is almost certainly faster, our I/O throughput in far smaller, due to not having multiple I/O devices running in parallel, and our actual processing capacity is also smaller (due to not running multiple processors in parallel).

The sheer amount of data even the first Crays (1976 Cray-1, 1985 Cray-2) could crunch would still make even the best home computer burn up in a cloud of smoke - the entire hardware architecture, as well as the processing structure are completely different, with ours designed for pretty low data-processing volumes.

Its not just speed, nor memory capacity, it's how you access and work with it - and the kind of data-manipulation needed for interstellar jump calculations requires more energy, and thus generates more heat, and thus requires more cooling/heat sinks/etc than a PC does, by far.
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Old February 3rd, 2019, 05:22 AM
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Originally Posted by BlackBat242 View Post
The YMP series debuted in 1988 - and while the laptop/desktop many of us uses to browse this board is almost certainly faster, our I/O throughput in far smaller, due to not having multiple I/O devices running in parallel, and our actual processing capacity is also smaller (due to not running multiple processors in parallel).
That last part is not true, the Y-MP C90 (which was a later version of the original 1988 version) performed in the tens or very low twenties of double precision gflops. Modern game oriented GPUs are - even when cut down to 1:8 or 1:16 fp64:fp32 as they are - are in the hundreds of GFLOPS and have much higher bandwidth to their memory architecture. Professional GPUs which are usually 1:2 fp64:fp32 are getting close to 10 teraflops now.

I also do not think our I/O throughput is smaller, even with a smaller number of attached devices, at least if you are referring to a Y-MP C90 with the E backplane and IO subsystem
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Old February 3rd, 2019, 05:49 AM
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Originally Posted by BlackBat242 View Post
due to not having multiple I/O devices running in parallel, and our actual processing capacity is also smaller (due to not running multiple processors in parallel).

The sheer amount of data even the first Crays (1976 Cray-1, 1985 Cray-2) could crunch would still make even the best home computer burn up in a cloud of smoke - the entire hardware architecture, as well as the processing structure are completely different, with ours designed for pretty low data-processing volumes.
.
And to expand on that a little. I think the Y-MP era supercomputers got a reputation for strong IO because the systems had DMA back when it was not very common for PCs (or even workstations) to have a bunch of DMA-capable IO devices attached to the system. Nowadays, DMA is commonplace and replicates the functionality at much higher cycle times and bus speeds that the YMP had.

The Y-MP C90 could take up to 16 CPU though there were variants with just 2 CPUs (similar to an Apple Watch, though the Apple Watch has more available system memory and higher clock speeds, and may also be a vector machine). Even 16 CPUs is not really that many, there are consumer oriented PCs these days with 32 cpu / 64 threads available, and again, at much higher clock speeds.

It's hard to know how to tackle the "jump computations" comparison without knowing what those computations are. For targeting, I imagine it's solving a variant of Lambert's Problem, which is probably going to be far faster and more efficient on a 2019-era machine than it would be on a Y-MP.
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  #47  
Old February 3rd, 2019, 05:55 AM
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How do modern supercomputer mainframes and such compare to those from the 1970s or 1980s?
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  #48  
Old February 3rd, 2019, 06:00 AM
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How do modern supercomputer mainframes and such compare to those from the 1970s or 1980s?
The fastest as of November 2018 (DOE's Summit supercomputer) is 150-200 petaflops, or around 9 to 12 million times faster than a fully configured 1991-era Y-MP C90, or about 935 million to 1.25 billion times faster than the 1976-era Cray-1.
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Old February 3rd, 2019, 10:25 AM
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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.

Well what I mean by inefficiency is that programmers don't code 'close to the metal' like they used to in terms of optimizing their programs, because it's not an economically viable use of their time.


So you often don't get 100x performance just because the machine is 100x faster- the hardware allows much 'sloppier' code and the programmer/dev team to concentrate on complexity of process.




In game terms I'd model that by allowing for the same purchase of 'commodity' priced software vs. the MCR costing of CT programs being 'avionic ready' for no-fault ship critical execution.



Also works for the would-be software tycoon that thinks they will be selling programs for big bucks- I would strongly suggest the market would only support 4 to 5-digit pricing for home-grown ship programs at 1:100/1:1000 ratios- with similar chances for bug on execution.


As far as larger is concerned, I pretty much avoid getting into miniaturization/power/processing ratio minutiae that doesn't have gameplay value my players really don't care about by just chalking up the CT/HG EP and tonnage to sensor and interfacing with major ship systems.
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  #50  
Old February 3rd, 2019, 11:32 AM
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Interesting.

The largest number of CPUs in the Cray computers I worked with was 8.

A couple of years after I left that job they pulled them out and used well, I can only remember the model name 'Violet'. It looked like a larger work station to me, but apparently it was considered better than the Crays we had.

I remember the YMP-2, but not the other two models.
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