What are the limits of current computing in terms of hardware? Well the limits actually are the hardware! When it’s time to upgrade your computer (laptop / iPhone / tower system / netbook / pda), the reasons usually are that the components cant handle the the software you’re trying to run, right?
Okay for you guys that know how a computer works, forgive me, but just hear me out here as I explain how these things work, in order to explain my solution.
There are 3 main parts to a computer ;
- CPU:(central processing unit) this is the brain of the comptuer and does all the thinking. It’s usually made by Intel or AMD and is rated in a certain number of cores and a speed rating. The faster the processor, the faster your computer.
- Memory: (often confused with storage), is a fast temporary storage device (RAM - random access memory) where programs are loaded so they can run through the processor.
- Storage: this is where all data is permanently stored for loading into memory and then to the processor.
So why am I explaining these essential parts of a computer?
Well let us quickly look at each of these parts :
A CPU is basically an adding machine and a logic unit. It can do billions of calculations of numbers (adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing) every second and various logic operations.
Memory is a temporary storage device which has no moving parts so it doesn’t wear out, and is faster than a hard drive. It’s also referred to as a volatile storage device because it requires power to store data. If the power is disconnected, it loses the stored data and defaults to ‘empty’.
Hard drives are high capacity storage devices which are non-volatile, as in they retain the stored information when there is no power supply.
Ok so recently since around 2005 there has been a development which actually bridged the gap between memory and hard drives and this was the USB flash drive. It was, at the time, not as fast as computer memory but it was a non-volatile storage device, so it could store data / information just like a hard drive but was much more portable with no moving parts, and only required a small amount of power to function.
Now these flash drives have evolved into solid state drives (SSD’s) and are faster than hard drives, and soon they will be able to store more than hard drives too.
Flash storage is what my Future Computing is based around in essence. We will soon (if not already) have flash drives just as fast as memory and they will be able to function both as storage and as a memory location to hold running programs.
The other major part of my idea / invention is physical modeling. If you are a musician you will already be familiar with this concept. There are various studio effects, and 2” tape machines (the ones you always see in the music videos on MTV - Metallica’s “nothing else matters” is a classic example) which are so treasured that even though studio recording is all turning computer-based, people still want the sound of those physical pieces of equipment (see below - the original tape machine on the left and the computer plugin on the right).
So in order to give musicians a computer solution , they have “physically modelled” these products and created computer emulations which function just as the original equipment did in every way, including the sound. They are available as computer plugin effects (VST, AU, RTAS, etc). It’s not just the music industry which is physically modeling hardware, there are many emulators for old computers that let you play old Atari games on your PC or Mac. These emulators make the Atari game think it’s in an arcade game machine by imitating the CPU of that particular arcade game, and you even have to hit the credit button so the game thinks you’ve put money in the machine!
So here we have the beginnings of the necessary technology to impliment two ideas:
- Fast storage which can act both as memory, and as a hard drive.
- Physical modelling which can dictate the type of computer you need to use (emulate).
This is my Idea :
- Have a computer which has minimal parts.
- A computer which consists mainly of a controller chip, albeit an advanced controller chip!!
- And large banks of fast flash storage.
The controller chip will manage the flash storage, input and output peripherals, and the emulation programs.
Companies could physically model many types of computer; servers, games consoles, ipods, cash machine, tills (cash register), pda’s, mbile phones, iPads, anything computerised that you can think of!! Then the hardware would be fairly simple. A keyboard or touchscreen input and the standard controller chip and fst flash memory.
Depending on the device you needed, for example a till / cash register in a supermarket, you could have a physically modelled standard till / cash register emulation. The supermarket would buy several standard looking tills / cash registers, and then buy the emulation software from the manufacturer. When there was an upgraded till / cash register they would simply buy the upgraded emulation which could be a totally redesigned model, and it would effectively give then the latest type of till / cash register just buy purchasing the new software. If they were touchscreen tills / cash registers, the button layouts could be totally redesigned as well, no limits!!!
Here is the flexibility in action, as you have a dynamic storage and memory structure. For example you’re running a program that needs more memory? Ok some of your storage is allocated as memory, so now you have 8Gb of RAM instead of 4Gb, as the demands of the program (a game lets say…..space fighter, etc, etc) requires.
This dynamic memory/storage can also emulate a physically modeled graphics card with as much graphics memory as needed. These types and power ratings of these emulated devices are constantly variable depending on the demands of the application the user wishes to use.
Here are just some rough figures, I estimate roughly 1.4 Terrabytes of this memory/storage could fit in a current Macbook 13”. Less power is needed to run such memory chips so heating is not such a problem, iPad & iPhone manage fine and rarely get hot.
Say you need a server with mass storage and less memory, maybe a more basic processor? Ok this system will allocate the necessary modelled components to use! Simple! Can’t believe it hasn’t been done!
Some quick info allowing this type of computer to be feasable :-
Current conventional CPU’s are at their maximum speed. They can’t get any faster because electrons travel at a certain speed, and CPU’s /processors are now (and have been for a few years) actually limited by the time it takes electrons to travel from one side of the CPU to the other. They can’t get any faster without drastic cooling and other considerations which would start increasing computer sizes. That would be a backwards step. So now we have muliple cores and more storage on the CPU’s, and some controllers (memory controllers as in the i-5 & i-7 range of Intel CPU’s). Also we have 32-bits processing moving up to 64-bit (Apple did it a few years ago!).
They will develop new technologies and if the internal combustion engine is anything to go by, they will only improve existing frameworks and not move forward with new systems or types of computer. Basically they will turbo charge existing computing components maybe making them smaller, more efficient, but they will eventually reach an impasse. The car engine has not fundamentally changed for many years, and all they have done is improved a 100 year old design, and haven’t really changed it!
If current chips are at a max speed rating, then a simple controller chip would be fast enough to run an emulation of any chip in existence, providing the flash memory/storage was fast enough. Current speeds are up to 166 Mb per second about half the speed of current SATA II hard drives. And they are evolving & increasing the storage amounts and read/write speeds very quickly, it won’ t be long until they are fast enough for this type of computer.
Compatibility would only be limited by the software, (emulation programs) that you have in your library. Since DOS [Windows (really past it as far as an operating system base goes) ] and UNIX (Mac OS X among others), are only software anyway, so you could be running Mac OS X one minute and Windows 7 the next. Hopefully a new type of operating system would emerge which would be its own base, and much more of a look and feel rather than a limit for the OS programmers to utilise.
So my types of computer could use the fastest current CPU technology, as the controller chip. They would really only have to co-ordinate emulation software, be able to toggle Flash memory from storage state to memory state, and of course co-ordinate any types of Input/Output devices (keyboard, mouse etc). Speeds of the emulated components could be governed by their emulation software, but with little or no data bottlenecks!
C’mon people make it happen!
Remember I thought of it first, let’s move things forward!
Hello All below is a link to new storage on the horizon
I believe this flash storage is the first big step to making my computer design a reality. Remember, my invention is based on existing technology, and all it needs is development and funding. You heard it here first.
Love & Light.