Should some old computer do all (same) as some new ?

Atari talk, or the life and the universe and things. Just keep it clean!
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Should some old computer do all (same) as some new ?

Post by Petari » Sat Aug 11, 2018 10:37 am

The full question would be: should some old, retro computer do same things, all (well, almost all) things as some modern one ?
I put this on because I see that many people just wants to access Internet, to use Pen drives, some new cards for PCs and like - all it with 1000x and more slower computer, with again, 1000x and more less memory ...

First thing to say is probably this: good computer is balanced computer. Where all components are with close speed, what means good cowork of components, and that none will be underused (considering speed). And Atari ST is indeed such. As most of what is designed by competent people.
If CPU is not enough fast to work with larger screen buffer, it can be slow with graphic intensive SW like games - Amstrad CPC is example for that. Of course, just little slow. But what about 16 million colors graphic on some ST ? It means 24 bits instead 4 bits (low res, 16 colors) for 1 pixel. So 6x more.
Nice, and 6x less speed - that can be good enough for Internet browser. Sure ... Ahh, not good - we need bigger resolution. OK, let's go 640x400 - what is 4x more px . So, 24x more mem. to process. Now, that's just too much, even for accelerated Atari at 40 MHz.

Pen drive usage: as I know existing solutions - Unicorn are slow. Do we really need Pen drive access, or some SD card access is OK - and prices of two are pretty much same. It is just some comfort factor, I think - Pen drive is easier for PC, but just little than SD cards.

I could give some other examples. But instead it: I have impression that most of people here is not aware about huge speed diff. between some new computer and oldies. I read in some posts how floppy is slow, how OS boots slowly, some graph. operations are slow. In most cases, it is just bad observation and not knowing how it really works, what all is involved. For instance, Win will boot slowly not right after install, but later, when lot of it is installed - and user needs to take care to not install everything offered, and even more - to check and uninstall things, because many will install without asking.
Some 4 core CPU at around 4 GHz is all in all about 10000x faster than 8 MHz 68000 . Even if clock ratio says rather 2000 (4x500) . But it performs operations in less cycles, and there are additional SSE instructions for dealing with multiple data at once. And not only that. I made tests: 2 years old 4 GHz 1 core is about 7 times faster than 2.8 GHz P4 1 core. Or 1.8 AMD Sempron - so, much more efficient in same cycle time.
Much of slowness now is because not well written SW - example: Blockout II for Win has huge keyboard lag, worse than Blockout for Atari ST . Should I say that Win, PC is crap because that ? No, because most of SW is not like that. Of course, there will be always things what needs extreme processing power, and will work slow. There is no limit in that. What matters are ratios. I must mention Hatari here. Latest version(s) as 2.00 have much more faithful 68030 CPU emulation, but it costs a lot. 4 GHz CPU can be little slow for TT emulation. I find it absurd. Surely code is not good considering execution speed. I see in TOS lot of solutions to make it work faster. It was programmed by competent people, with experience. And they were forced to it, to make it fast - competition on market for instance. Could see well for instance how screen and memory clear operation progressed in diverse TOS versions, until fastest possible with 68000 (movem.l with lot of registers set to 0) . I guess that such things are now rare, especially when coding in C. But good algorithm can always speed it up, regardless from used language.
Longer paragraph above is what would be something like: pulling out maximum of machine. That was good thing always, and goal of good programmers.
Now less present, because in most cases it works acceptable even with slow code.

For the end of this longer 'rant' - video playback. Yes, that was always something very demanding. For some latest codec and full HD res even 2x core 3 GHz CPU may be slow. People wants small size, good quality videos. So, efficient compression. And that is what costs lot of CPU power, especially in encoding. Not to mention 4K . Then 60 Fps instead 24/25 . What can poor old Atari ST do in that area ? Well, ST not really, mostly because lack of DMA sound and low color count, but STE with some tricky disk adapter can:
Of course, all it is not intended for some regular usage, but demonstration what is possible. Even if some Amiga people accused me for cheating, and that STE can not do it. This would be by me good example how to make it - not by copying solutions used by much faster machines - what people working on GHz 68000 clone wants - like DVD playback (what is pitty now in HD era) . To make 25 or even 50 fps, smooth video playback on 8 MHz computer you need first: to forget about any video compression. And low res is good thing in this case: less data :D Basically, I got something like VHS quality, at price of large files. What is not problem now with cheap Flash cards. About 2 MB/sec, or some 7 GB for 2 hours. Still less than Blue Ray :lol:
There is 2 kind of people: one thinking about moving to Mars after here becomes too bad, the others thinking about how to keep this planet habitable.

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