[SATLUG] question of the measurement of processing power past and present

Todd W. Bucy toddwbucy at grandecom.net
Tue Aug 12 10:32:30 CDT 2008

I am still hacking away at this paper.  The paper looks at F/OSS in
terms of a gift economy.  One of the trueism that has always been noted
about gift economies is that they occur in environments which are
relatively wealthy and where competition for resources is not as high;
the potlatch of the Kwakutial is often cited as such an example.  I am
making the basic argument that this need not be the case and am offering
the birth of hackers and the F/OSS community as such an example.  If we
consider that the production environemnt for computer software was
severly constricted in terms of resources (computing power) forced an
environment not dictated by competition for resources (as the tragedy of
the commons would predict) but was driven by cooperation in terms of
time sharing protocols. 

what I need to know is it fair, in terms of raw processing power, to
compare a measurement of 0.06 kips of the IBM 650 in 1954 to the
petraFLOPS generated by the IBM Roadrunner of today (or for that matter
the giga flops generated by the the intell q6600).  Obviously the newer
processors (and super computers) of today are much faster then they were
in the 50's and 60's.  I guess what I am looking for is something that
illustrates the dramatic increase of computing power over the last 50 or
so years.

second question
is it generally true that the ability to code software (at a theoretical
level at least) has always outstripped the ability of the hardware to
process such software?  In other words software developers in general
have the ability to write code which demands more from the hardware
hardware (in terms of resources/computing power) then what the hardware
is capable of doing?

thanks for any help

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