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People misunderstanding computer hardware and what they need

This is a discussion on People misunderstanding computer hardware and what they need within the General Discussions forums, part of the Community Boards category; My brother has been talking about getting a new (gaming) PC for over a year now. He doesn't make a ...

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    Epy
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    People misunderstanding computer hardware and what they need

    My brother has been talking about getting a new (gaming) PC for over a year now. He doesn't make a lot of money and really doesn't have the money to buy, well, anything good. His previous machine was an Alienware laptop, which should give you a clue to where this is going. At the same time, he's wanted to get his wife a new laptop as well.

    My parents and I were conspiring to buy him a new PC for Christmas, one that was value priced but had enough to satisfy him (3.2 GHz quad-core CPU, 4 GB RAM, 1 GB nVidia graphics card). He said he wanted to play Skyrim, I checked the recommended specs and this PC met that.

    So, my brother texts me last night and tells me he bought a $950 Dell XPS laptop with about the same except 8 GB RAM and a 2 GB graphics card. At the end of the conversation he tells me, "Someday I plan on buying a really nice machine. This will be *wife's name*'s laptop, but when she's not using it, it's game time." Waste of money to get that laptop, and even more waste of money to get another "better" laptop.

    This crap happens all the time and it irks me to no end. I was an IT intern for an AEC firm back in Ohio for 3 years and I don't know how many people would complain to me about how they needed a new PC. People with Xeon processor workstations, and not even engineers or drafters who used CAD programs, it'd be secretaries or something who just need to use Word and Excel. Cry me a river.

    At home, I use an old Asus netbook and a Dell laptop with a Core Duo processor. I have a Core i3 desktop for video playback on my TV and that's the fastest thing I have in the house. I've used SolidWorks on that netbook when I was still in school with no problems.

    What is wrong with people? Are they just spoiled? Do they like wasting money?

    /rant

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    Quote Originally Posted by Epy View Post
    What is wrong with people?
    see the DSM-5 for a good reference.

    Are they just spoiled?
    probably, or they simply think more is always better, even though computers like my 3 year old HP laptop with a lowly T4400 processor performs as well as my 8-core desktop for normal everyday (non gaming) use.

    Do they like wasting money?
    they believe that they are not wasting it. they believe that they are getting real value for their money, even though, in your brother's case, a much lower spec'd base machine with the same video card would likely perform just as well for everything.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Epy View Post
    ...My parents and I were conspiring to buy him a new PC for Christmas, one that was value priced but had enough to satisfy him (3.2 GHz quad-core CPU, 4 GB RAM, 1 GB nVidia graphics card). He said he wanted to play Skyrim, I checked the recommended specs and this PC met that...
    You realize that 4 GB isn't enough to get you anywhere today, right? Especially when you put games into the picture.
    Also consider that "recommended specs" aren't always good enough. You want 60 fps @ 1080p. Can your graphics card pull that off?
    People may be spoiled, but hey, that graphics power comes in handy with games. Let's just hope that values satisfies him for a couple of years going forward.
    Quote Originally Posted by Adak View Post
    io.h certainly IS included in some modern compilers. It is no longer part of the standard for C, but it is nevertheless, included in the very latest Pelles C versions.
    Quote Originally Posted by Salem View Post
    You mean it's included as a crutch to help ancient programmers limp along without them having to relearn too much.

    Outside of your DOS world, your header file is meaningless.

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    Epy
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    4 GB should be plentiful for everything except virtualization, IMO. I've found that you can do so so much with simply more than one processor and 2 GB of RAM. The last time I touched FPSes, it seemed like all that really mattered was the graphics card, so long as you had a reasonable base system. Are game programmers just becoming lazier and lazier w.r.t. efficiency? I understand that higher end graphics of course dictate a higher end graphics card, but I would think that game mechanics would basically be the same.

    Anyway, with the *desktop* PC we were going to get him, he would've easily and economically been able to upgrade that graphics card, or get a 2nd one for that matter. And upgrade anything else he wanted to upgrade.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Epy View Post
    4 GB should be plentiful for everything except virtualization, IMO. I've found that you can do so so much with simply more than one processor and 2 GB of RAM. The last time I touched FPSes, it seemed like all that really mattered was the graphics card, so long as you had a reasonable base system. Are game programmers just becoming lazier and lazier w.r.t. efficiency? I understand that higher end graphics of course dictate a higher end graphics card, but I would think that game mechanics would basically be the same.
    4 GB is not enough IMO. Programs these days just eat more and more memory, and you have to accommodate for some caching, system management and driver memory. Especially browsers eats tons of ram. If you need to use virtualization, 12 GB is almost a must.
    Anyway, as for games... prettier graphics and larger worlds needs more memory. Models, textures and that kind of stuff eats up a ton of ram. And why keep it in memory? Well, you know the hard disk is kinda slow...
    Quote Originally Posted by Adak View Post
    io.h certainly IS included in some modern compilers. It is no longer part of the standard for C, but it is nevertheless, included in the very latest Pelles C versions.
    Quote Originally Posted by Salem View Post
    You mean it's included as a crutch to help ancient programmers limp along without them having to relearn too much.

    Outside of your DOS world, your header file is meaningless.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Elysia View Post
    Anyway, as for games... prettier graphics and larger worlds needs more memory. Models, textures and that kind of stuff eats up a ton of ram. And why keep it in memory? Well, you know the hard disk is kinda slow...
    And yet, I'm yet to see a game that actually uses more than 2-3 gigs of RAM out of my 16.
    That shouldn't be happenning, but most developers are probably too lazy to fix something which only improves loading times (only if don't have an SSD).

    (The only program I have seen utilizing a huge amount of RAM is okular, which is a pdf/ebook reader, which can be optionally configured to load and render entire pdfs into memory. A 1000 page pdf can easily end up taking 5-6 gigs of RAM.)
    Manasij Mukherjee | gcc-4.8.2 @Arch Linux
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    Registered User MutantJohn's Avatar
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    I'm with Elysia on this one.

    I think I built the computer you wanted to build, Epy. I have an AMD 955 @ 3.2 GHz (quadcore), GTX 460 (1 GB card) and 4 GB RAM.

    4 is so not enough anymore, if you want to run games on higher settings which is the point of a gaming computer. I upgraded to 8 and I love it. It also makes programming more of a blast because I can play around with so much memory.

    Also, a 1 GB card isn't enough now. VRAM is important.

    For example, DotA 2 either has a memory leak or a cruel design intention where it doesn't free the memory it allocates for a game after a game has finished so my memory usage will go up and up and up until OpenGL crashes it T_T

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    Epy
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    Knowing that you deal with meshing and whatnot, I know you would definitely benefit from more RAM. When I was doing CFD studies, I longed for a PC with more RAM. If I was doing that still, I'd have a machine with as much RAM as I could fit on the mobo.

    I'm going with programmers are getting lazier with game programming.

    Elysia, just can't agree with you on needing more than 4 GB for normal daily use. I can open every Office program, SolidWorks, and AutoCAD, while watching Netflix in my browser which racks up about 1.2-1.3 GB for those programs.

    Really, we're now talking about Windoze vs. Linux (and others). Perhaps I can do so much more with my home computers because they're not running bloated diarrhea operating systems made by companies who count on available RAM growing over time.

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    Hmm... Maybe developers go with a "performance over memory usage" type of thing.

    I think most game developers aim to go for higher cache use, right? Because the cache would be the fastest and would also lend itself better to multithreading, correct? Otherwise, you'd have to constantly read from the actual ram pool which is bottlenecked by motherboard bus speed and ram frequency, I think. Like, you'd have to wait for the ram to be in a coherent state and not at some weird voltage created by the alternating current.

    I think contiguous memory lends itself to better cache efficient code, doesn't it? So even if you weren't solely using the stack, it'd be a better practice to dynamically allocate a buffer and then manipulate it.

    Is that right? I'm trying to learn this stuff but I need fact checks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MutantJohn View Post

    I think most game developers aim to go for higher cache use, right? Because the cache would be the fastest and would also lend itself better to multithreading, correct? Otherwise, you'd have to constantly read from the actual ram pool which is bottlenecked by motherboard bus speed and ram frequency, I think. Like, you'd have to wait for the ram to be in a coherent state and not at some weird voltage created by the alternating current.

    I think contiguous memory lends itself to better cache efficient code, doesn't it? So even if you weren't solely using the stack, it'd be a better practice to dynamically allocate a buffer and then manipulate it.

    Is that right? I'm trying to learn this stuff but I need fact checks.
    No, those aren't at all where most modern games bottleneck.
    (but are rather important for scientific and numerical computing , afaik)
    Two of the important areas for games are memory->graphics memory transfer and fragment shaders.
    For the former, you get slower framerates when you increase the size(detail) of textures...and increase polygon count.
    For the later, you get slower when you increase resolution..(all the post processing and stuff like anti-aliasing that need to be executed for every fragment(which may or may not get displayed as pixels)).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Epy View Post
    I'm going with programmers are getting lazier with game programming.
    It's true: developers are getting lazier because the amount of ram is increasing. This is a good thing, because it usually means less optimizations which leads to less bugs and happier programmers.

    Elysia, just can't agree with you on needing more than 4 GB for normal daily use. I can open every Office program, SolidWorks, and AutoCAD, while watching Netflix in my browser which racks up about 1.2-1.3 GB for those programs.
    My memory usage is at 3.78 GB by programs (to be fair, 1 GB is used by silly MySql which does not understand that it can use less memory when it's not storing a huge database), and 1 GB by firefox, leaving 1.78 GB for other programs and services. Not enough to play a game with, much less develop programs.

    Really, we're now talking about Windoze vs. Linux (and others). Perhaps I can do so much more with my home computers because they're not running bloated diarrhea operating systems made by companies who count on available RAM growing over time.
    No, we're not... you seem to have some sort of beef against Windows, but you are wrong. Windows is not a memory hogger. The system scales with the amount of ram you have. If you have lots of ram, it will eat lots of ram for system resources (it will also free them if you start running out of memory). If you have little ram, it will not use much memory. Every new version of Windows seems to have a trend where the memory usage goes down.
    And those services are there for a reason: to enable you to have a good experience without having to know how to configure and start everything in order to get something working.

    Quote Originally Posted by MutantJohn View Post
    Hmm... Maybe developers go with a "performance over memory usage" type of thing.

    I think most game developers aim to go for higher cache use, right? Because the cache would be the fastest and would also lend itself better to multithreading, correct? Otherwise, you'd have to constantly read from the actual ram pool which is bottlenecked by motherboard bus speed and ram frequency, I think. Like, you'd have to wait for the ram to be in a coherent state and not at some weird voltage created by the alternating current.

    I think contiguous memory lends itself to better cache efficient code, doesn't it? So even if you weren't solely using the stack, it'd be a better practice to dynamically allocate a buffer and then manipulate it.

    Is that right? I'm trying to learn this stuff but I need fact checks.
    Memory usage goes both ways. In your critical path, you really want to use the cache as much as possible, because memory accesses cost lots of time. There it advantageous to use less memory and reuse it more to get more predictability and hits in the cache.
    But on the other hand, memory is way faster than disk, so caching data in memory is a good idea, too. Like in my example program I showed you, I cached the data to be written to disk in memory even though I used a tremendous amount. There is no way it would fit in the cache, and yet, using a smaller amount of memory would have hurt performance.
    Reading from memory is usually bottlenecked by the latency, but in multithreaded scenarios, it is actually very easy to bottleneck the bus (ie using too much bandwidth).
    Cache loves spatial locality, so yes, contiguous memory is the absolute best thing for a cache, and that is the reason why an array is usually faster than a linked list, save for extreme cases.
    Quote Originally Posted by Adak View Post
    io.h certainly IS included in some modern compilers. It is no longer part of the standard for C, but it is nevertheless, included in the very latest Pelles C versions.
    Quote Originally Posted by Salem View Post
    You mean it's included as a crutch to help ancient programmers limp along without them having to relearn too much.

    Outside of your DOS world, your header file is meaningless.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Elysia View Post
    Not enough to play a game with, much less develop programs.
    but why would you play a game with firefox open and mysql running, especially when you know they both take up a lot of ram? I shut down everything when I play any game, and I have plenty of ram. I'm sure I'm not alone in this habit.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elkvis View Post
    but why would you play a game with firefox open and mysql running, especially when you know they both take up a lot of ram? I shut down everything when I play any game, and I have plenty of ram. I'm sure I'm not alone in this habit.
    MySql I can't shut down because it's used in a critical operation that needs to stay up.
    As for firefox... why close it? It takes time to restart.
    Also don't forget that you can't forget about the system, drivers, etc. They need ram, and you shouldn't starve them. Doing that will cause more swapping, and that must absolutely, never happen.
    Quote Originally Posted by Adak View Post
    io.h certainly IS included in some modern compilers. It is no longer part of the standard for C, but it is nevertheless, included in the very latest Pelles C versions.
    Quote Originally Posted by Salem View Post
    You mean it's included as a crutch to help ancient programmers limp along without them having to relearn too much.

    Outside of your DOS world, your header file is meaningless.

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    Master Apprentice phantomotap's Avatar
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    This is a good thing, because it usually means less optimizations which leads to less bugs and happier programmers.
    O_o

    [Rant]
    Remind me to never use anything you code.

    I don't care if the guys who code my software are miserable. I only care if they do their ........ing job.

    Seriously, "less optimizations leads to less bugs" equals "feel free to waste resources" for you?

    Are you prepared to throw millions of dollars at vendors to have multiple stacks of machines hosting multiple video cards a piece just to run a modern FPS?

    No? Then keep your mouth shut with such nonsense.

    Oh, you think I'm being *insert modifier*? Well, let me ask you, do you really think memory is the only resource being wasted? If a programmer is lazy enough to waste one resource, all resources are fair game.

    Yeah, RAM is cheap, but the same guy who passes off doing his ........ing job of using RAM responsibly isn't going to use your processor's real threads or video card's shaders responsibly because he is already not doing his ........ing job well.

    So, where are you willing to draw the line at throwing more money at lazy programmers? Are you going to buy $120.00 (USD) video card when a $60.00 (USD) should actually have the same performance for the same task? Are you going to buy a $700.00 (USD) processor when a $200.00 (USD) should have done the same job with the same available time?

    Do you have that same mentality with all other things you purchase? I just checked, no joke, with several HVAC repair guys in my area; do you think I should pay for a second HVAC service contract because it might make the first guy happy to not find a leak in supply lines?

    Such mentality as that is idiotic in the extreme; I expect people to have the respect to do a job well regardless of how difficulty, boring, or unhappy the task.

    You should feel the same way: you've paid for the games you play so you should expect them to work well.

    You certainly should not be willing to pay more simply because the game you purchased uses resources irresponsibly.
    [/Rant]

    @Epy: It sounds like your brother probably fell victim to "Cyber Monday" "deal". That is bad luck, but at least he didn't get the new "model" that was created a bit back solely to have something to put on sale.

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    Epy
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    No, we're not... you seem to have some sort of beef against Windows, but you are wrong. Windows is not a memory hogger.
    With the exception of 7 to 8, each new release of Windows has higher and higher system requirements. In my eyes, every new release of Windows after XP has offered me nothing to justify the need for those extra specs. The same is true of most Windows programs: Office, multimedia apps, CAD apps, etc. And every program seems to think that it needs something to start when Windows starts, too (along with toolbars and default home pages). In part, Apple is to blame because M$ is just trying to copy the shiny graphics from OS X. The other part of the blame is Windows application developers who count on the exponential rise in memory over time. Anything made by Adobe would be a shining example.

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