Next Generation Computers Are Starting To Appear
The newest thing on the scene will be the 64 bit systems and AMD is already marketing their 64 bit chip, along with the new Pentium D from Intel.
We need to remember that the original first generation home computers (TRS-80, Apple IIe, Kaypro, Commodore 64) were 8 bit systems (they digest data in 8 bit gulps), then came the Mac, Atari ST and IBM PC with 16 bit architecture (it digested data in both 8 and 16 bit gulps). Then came the “next generation” Macintosh and PCs with 32 bit design (Windows 98 and above or Mac OS 6 and above).
One of the big problems was backwards compatibility and in the PC world that meant still supporting DOS or 8/16 bit architecture, while processing data from some software at 32 bits. Often this mean one part of the processor actually used 32 bits to deal with 4 different 8 bit values. This made processing faster since 4 operations (on an original IBM XT) could now be done at the same time (parallel or concurrent processing). But, this didn’t necessarily mean you were working in the 32 bit world! The only things that some of 32 bit software applied to was color depth (true color monitors), addressing for memory and hard drives (allowing up to 100 GB hard drive partitions). Backwards compatiblity kept a lot of things living in 1985!
With the so-called “DOS-less” Windows XP and NT (and don’t be fooled, there is still some DOS in both system, hiding there at start up and for trouble shooting, you just can run the original DOOM on those systems) we are now freer to have less backwards compatibility and that’s what the next system of computers is about.
These will sport a 64 bit architecture (handling numbers in the trillions instead of billions) and they will be backwards compatible to much of Windows 98 and ME software, so many of your old programs (not all programs) will run on many different CPUs (not all CPUs will handle the same software). What this means is the amount of bit places some parts of the CPU can handle become much larger
Next Generation XT/AT:
Current Generation Machines:
The Newest and 2006 Machines:
What this means for you, the user, is faster power for video and complex audio work. Much longer file names (current limitation is about 27 to 32 characters). Faster processing for older software that is compatible. Faster processing for older operating systems (OS, such as Windows 98 or XP). Bigger hard drive partitions (into the terabyte range or 500 GB plus). Bigger memory configurations. More drive combinations.
Has anyone out there put Windows 95 on a current machine? It blazes! Upgrade to Windows 98 or ME and it slows down, because 95 was 16 bit based, while 98 is 32 bit based.
The next generation Windows Vista OS (originally code named Longhorn) will be a 64 bit system that only works on the newest machines, but 32 bit based XP may blaze on a 64 bit CPU!
All the newest machines also sport new memory types (DDR-2), new video ports (PCI-Express with SLI [Nvidia] or CrossFire [ATI]) and new hard drive types (SATA, SATA-II with or without NCQ), which means everything runs faster and goes further. Not all of these new "things" may work on systems made in the year 2004 or earlier!
What all this means is that your throughput (or how fast data travels) through these devices will be faster and you can buy much bigger (as faster) hard drives to handle demanding situations like real time video editing, real time multi-track audio recording and CAD-CAM work.
The cost of these machines is surprisingly low! You can buy in for under $500, which is a first in the industry. It used to be that even the entry level for a “new machine” was well over $2,000.
Does this mean it’s time to buy into a new machine? Not until both Microsoft and Apple have fully spoken! That won’t be ‘til later next year. They may have new concepts that won’t be easily supported by the current machines or you may have to “add-on” to the system (remember USB and later FireWire?).
Once all the new OS systems come out (remember, Mac is switching to Intel chips, which means a whole new OS – thank God, Microsoft has never done that!!!) along with some new software and hardware, that’ll be the time to buy the newest systems, however if a 64 bit system (e.g. AMD Athlon 64) is only $50 more it is well worth investing in this just to keep one step ahead of the game. At least you should be able to upgrade your OS with little problem when Microsoft releases the new edition (set for mid to late 2006)!
Mac users, be cautious! You’ll end up like a friend of mine who bought a system that was near the top, but by the time he went to upgrade nothing could be found because his system was 4 years old. Mac is famous for really making old things obsolete! Almost nothing out there today works on a Mac SE II! At one time the SE II was the most flexible system that existed! Today it’s totally obsolete, while a PC AT user can easily find things to help them at least run newer hard drives and video cards. You may not get into the 21st Century with an old AT, but you can find Windows 3.11, lots of old software and use some modern ATA drives on the system, along with 16 bit full color cards!
-- Also contributing to this was Orion Cheung
Video Special 2005 |
Intro To Digital TV |
DVD or DV Camcorders?
Our video special continues with these offerings from 2004:
Doing Video On Your Computer |
The Pinnacle Capture Card |
ATA Hard Drives