There's a world between email, games

Work or Play – Everyone expects their monitor to instantly refresh.  They demand that the graphics to be lightning fast as well as ultra-realistic.  Of course that also needs to be wrapped in a low-cost, environmentally kindly system.  When all of this doesn’t come together we’re a little concerned. Photo Source — Paramount

“Mayday! Mayday!” – Ted Striker (Robert Hays) – Airplane (1980)

No one flies today just for the fun of it.  Arrive two hours ahead of time.  Fumbling full body search.  Extra fee if you want to take a bag along (you know clothes).  Extra fee for a drink of water.  Extra fee for a snack.  Quarter to use the restroom.

Shoehorned between a guy who drank his lunch and dude who forgot about physical hygiene.  Behind a lady who wants to lie down the entire flight.

You get the feeling Ted Striker was talking about air travel when he said, “It was a rough place – the seediest dive on the wharf. Populated with every reject and cutthroat from Bombay to Calcutta. It’s worse than Detroit.”

In the waiting area we watched a guy whip out his cute little Asus Eee and go thru his email.  Cute but not really designed for a lot of “real” work.

Game Power

Sitting across the aisle we watched a young guy whip out some serious hardware, Alienware.  Obviously he wanted to get some real work done. Wrong…he came to play! The graphics were awesome!  The action was more so!!

We figured we could spend the time editing some family video on our new dual-core, 2GB RAM, reasonable weight notebook.  The work went reasonably fast but rendering took “a little horsepower” and time.  Three hours into the project the tray table had melted and the “save or else” battery warning light had the flight attendant stopping by to see what we wanted.

Gamer was still playing and the Eee user sitting two rows up was happily juggling his expense report.  As McCroskey said, “Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit drinking.”  Our business system wasn’t cheap but right then it seemed like a poor compromise. There are a lot of gamers but there are a lot more people who just want to work on their notebooks.

Figure 1 – Game Power – When you’re looking for graphics power on your computer you check out the systems that were designed for game fanatics.  Desktop or notebook, the systems have it all – power, speed, weight and…cost.  But they are so sleek!!!  Source — AP

Why should the kid across the aisle have all the power?


Depending on whether you believe Intel or Nvidia (ok so you can throw AMD in the mix also) the secret isn’t the CPU alone but the best video power is generated by the GPU (Graphics Processor Unit) and its storage buffer.

Figure 2 – Differences of Opinion – Intel’s position is that they can design in all the necessary features and capabilities for GPU work into their new dual- and quad-core chips.  Naturally Nvidia thinks that raw CPU power is a huge waste of time, effort and…money.  All we want is fast, reliable graphics efforts.  Source — Intel

To hear Intel tell the story they’ve embedded new capabilities in their CPUs that deliver the clock speeds and core-to-core communications that deliver the power and strength people like ourselves occasionally need when we’re using the system to render multi-layer video segments.

Oh yeah…the software has to be completely rewritten to be optimized for multi-core, multi-threading. To which Nvidia responds looking directly at the attendant, “Elaine, you’re a member of this crew.  Can you face some unpleasant facts?”  We can’t.  Especially when we had just dropped nearly two grand on the notebook!

Nvidia says that you really need a dedicated GPU and firmware. Then the video post production software needs to be designed use all of the GPU’s processors for video transcoding.

Figure 3 – We Never Knew – We never thought twice about all of the firmware and software that goes into a chip.  Even more is designed into elegant GPUs and software has been specially designed to take optimum advantage of the GPU chips special features/ capabilities.

That’s all fine and dandy for the system at home.  The kid had just souped up the system with a new $400 Nvidia card.  Made his games stream look like the best highdef TV you’ve seen.   Allowed the wife and daughter to fly through their photo and video editing.  Let us quickly cut the 10 commercials from the Dr. Who shows we wanted to watch on our trip.  Didn’t do much for our notebook because there was no slot available!  When we got home and looked at the notebook specs we found the GPU listed in the mouse type.

Buffer storage?  512K…we’ve got $10 USB drives with more memory than that!