Monday, April 08, 2024

Ancient History

I bought a four terabyte (4TB) SSD the other day at the local big box store. A Samsung T7 Shield (which I think just means it comes with a rubberlike case around it). It was substantially discounted, probably because the new T9 model is out. Easily fits in my shirt pocket. Hooked it up via the included USB cable to our network-attached storage box, and I'm now using it to automatically back up two Mac laptops and a Mac desktop at the Palatial Overclock Estate.

Mind blown.

Because I am ancient almost beyond belief - it's a miracle I'm still alive, especially considering my hobbies - I remember thirty years ago helping to write a proposal to DARPA to build a one terabyte (1TB) hierarchical storage system that would have included rotating disks and a robotic tape library. It would have taken up an entire room. Can't blame them for not funding it. Someone smarter than me (which could have been just about anyone) probably saw this all coming.

That same organization, the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder Colorado, had the only CRAY-3 supercomputer outside of Seymour Cray's Cray Computer Corporation. Today, your Raspberry Pi Single Board Computer (SBC) - and not even the latest Pi model 5 - has more horsepower than that CRAY-3. And the SBC would fit in your shirt pocket as well.

Don't bet against Moore's Law.

Although as I am always quick to point out, what exactly Moore's Law implies has changed over the past few years. Which is why I was tickled when someone who is using my Diminuto C systems programming library passed along a command line to build the software by running make across sixteen parallel threads of execution - taking advantage of the trend towards multicore processors, now that it's become difficult to make individual processors faster. Between much of the build process being I/O bound, and having four processor cores on the Raspberry Pi 5, this approach really speeds up the makefile.


That's me, about thirty years ago, leaning against the world's most expensive aquarium; the CRAY-3 logic modules were visible under the transparent top, fully immersed in Fluorinert.

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