Editorial 05-07 - The coming PC dead-end

Hello and sorry for the duration since the last column.

I went to Las Vegas for the ASCDI (Association of Computer Dealers International) show. The other major trade group, CDLA (Computer Dealers and Lessors Association), collapsed years ago and I had not been a member of ASCDI until this show. After 22 years, old dogs learn to play dead or beg.

It was quite funny: Many, if not most, of us rarely see our colleagues in the regular course of business. It?s even getting to the point that we don't even talk anymore. Instant messages and email have seen to that. So, there we were, at the ASCDI meeting and after parties, hundreds of us, wandering around looking down at the nametags in order to recognize our pals. I found the furtive glances at my nametag humorous. Now that's what it must be like for women to have men looking at their cleavage! "Hey, fella, I'm up here."

I knew what to expect at the casinos, but was still shocked to see the stacks of chips and wads of cash. The old slot machines had a distinctive sound as the winner's coins hit their bucket. Now the machines spit out paper receipts instead, and the machines play a recording of the "dink-dink-dink..." sound. I also expected the prices to be high, but I was shocked at the usury that went on. The snacks stand at the Cirque de Soleil charged $8.00 for a bottle of water.

It was odd and quite tiring, being "on" for so many events. There was the requisite amount of small talk, endless cocktails, and not much deal-making that I could detect. Even so, it was great to get away from the office for a long weekend.Now that we are back in our saddles, let's get pumping!

I learned some interesting things from Dr. Frank Soltis from IBM.According to Dr. Soltis, we have reached the point of diminishing returns on the current crop of PC microprocessors.The heat issues are forcing the designers to move to multithreaded processors (Duo core, et. al.).Many applications cannot be run in multithreaded mode and will actually run slower on the newest PC servers.I suppose that there will be patches and updates from the major software vendors to try to adapt to the changes in basic design.This is mentioned as a background to elucidate the benefits of the IBM iSeries (AS/400, etc.) processors.Apparently, IBM's processors don't have the same heat problem as the aforementioned processors from Intel and AMD.Clock rates of over 6GHz were in production, with specialized processors running over 10GHz, all without any changes to applications.

Did you know that IBM's Power processors run all the latest game consoles?It has been said that these machines (Playstation, Nintendo, Xbox, etc.) are supercomputers in disguise.All that research and development has paid off.Also, did you know that Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) chips in IBM factories?I suspect that means that we will probably see the integration of AMD microprocessors in future frame releases.

In the news is a soon-to-be-announced/released replacement for the venerable Advanced System 36.

The price of color laser printers continues to slide.The purchase price often includes "starter" supplies.Just wait until its time to refill. Ouch! More expensive than the whole machine was. Give them the razor and sell them the blades.Nothing new.

We have made some interesting and very useful changes to our web site.You can now use Paypal, or, if approved, we can put you on credit terms.We can even have the web site automatically reflect your discounts.Ask me for details.

Used equipment is abundant, as demand has slowed in our sectors.More and more users are falling into the trap.Buy the new machines, pay out the nose for toner.We use a color laser in house.It has been down cold for three weeks now as the manufacturer's technicians replace part after part.Now they will "have to replace the machine".So, another unit off the skid (ouch, my back), and another setup menu navigation.But it is shiny, the chrome gleaming like a Cheshire cat. Sure, they're inexpensive (relatively speaking), but the quality of the machines gives pause to new acquisitions.Buy it refurbed- if you are going to have issues, better it not be on a brand new machine at brand-new prices .

David T. Mendelson