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Technological Narcolepsy

I came to write an article at short notice today and realised that, for the first time in a long while, I had nothing to say.

Those of you who are regular followers of my musings will probably be surprised at this, due to the ramblings which I can happily dish out on a bi-monthly basis. As I pottered around the writers block, I began to realise why I had nothing in particular to say. That reason is there just isn’t anything happening at the moment that excites me.

Now, before you gather together a posse to come down to Kna towers (with flaming torches and pitchforks) for daring to suggest that the next pipeline on a graphics card, or the extra megahertz delivered on PCI Express, isn’t worth the pant wetting excitement, I will have my say (as usual).

"The PC component market is a veritable minefield of crap which only interests the people who deal with it"

You might assume that a tech columnist would be jumping on these new features with the rabid abandon of a fly to the proverbial; however, I do also like to maintain a healthy distance from the latest marketing buzzwords in order to try to keep my experience of upcoming products more akin to something those of you in the real world would see (unlike Wil, who, as Editor, has to read press releases every night before bed).

Right now, nothing is interesting me.

Sure, we have PCI-Express, we have a raft of new graphics card technology and we have 64-Bit computing. I’m sure these will be nothing less than groundbreaking to journalists huddled around their one free drink (after a four hour session of PowerPoint hell), those for whom the latest tech gives them column inches to earn their wages; or those people who simply have to have the best in technology to download pornography. However to me they’re just the same tired old pieces of kit being re-hashed in order for me to do the same old thing over again.

Granted, rehashing probably isn’t fair. PCI Express is supposedly cool new technology, but its only really a re-engineering of what we have had before. Where are the new technologies, the inventions?

The constant merry-go round of PC hardware standards means that the component market is a veritable minefield of crap which only interests the people who deal with it. The amount of confused punters who browse shelves in PC World, wondering if what they’ve bought to go in their computer is actually going to work when they get it home, is overwhelming. I’m a techno-savvy guy (and am more than capable of getting things working together), but the majority of the time it is only when I’ve already got the components in front of me that I realise that the flux-capacitor isn’t the right voltage to interlock with the spangalated flexboard. The constant mess of new standards and new buzzwords makes the whole thing incredibly confusing for the consumer.

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Chris Caines


All this would be forgivable, perhaps, if it really made a difference to what we do with our machines. Unfortunately, no-one is really doing anything exciting with this functionality. Example; for the last three years I have been looking at technology demos from certain popular graphics manufacturers. Every single year, I see the capabilities of these cards pushed to the limits and think ‘Wow, now that is realistic, I can’t wait until I can play games that good’. And, sure as eggs is eggs, every year games crawl along as if they weren’t told about how good these cards are. Sure, the actual graphics are getting better but no way in the leaps and bounds I should be expecting. Honestly, Far Cry is the only game in the last year that even thinks about taxing the latest cards. So if there's nothing worth doing with this stuff, why have the hardware? All the pipelines and pixel shaders in the world won't interest me, if I am still getting the same apparent performance out of my games as I was last time.

"When I think of new and exciting technology I’m interested in PVR’s, clearer and bigger LCD Monitors, new input devices and the like"

This is not limited to graphics cards obviously; however they do seem to be the most ‘in your face’ technology around at the moment. 64-Bit computing - where's the application? PCI-Express - where do we need the bandwidth? DDR 2 - it’s not even as fast, in some apps, as what we have now. What's the point?

When I think of new and exciting technology I’m interested in PVR’s, clearer and bigger LCD Monitors, new input devices and the like. Do you realise the single most interesting thing to me about SATA drives is the fact the cables are neater in my machine? Has anyone, apart from those using lightning-fast Raptors, noticed the benefits of SATA?

Come on developers. PC’s are boring enough as it is... please let’s try and make them a little more exciting. Start inventing, be it cool new technologies or awesome new applications, instead of revisiting whats gone before.