% fortune -ae paul murphy

Questioning the Quad Drive Hummer

An analogy I made last week to a car led one of the talkback contributors to venture the traditional "If Microsoft made cars" headline; happily, without the traditional unfunny jokes attached to it.

My guess is that a Microsoft car would look like a nineties Volvo, offer the reliability of a frequently patched Trabant, and combine motorcycle safety with Hummer like fuel economy - but it's the Hummer reference here that gets us into serious stuff.

The argument the anti-SUV people make is that nobody needs a 5,000 pound vehicle to get groceries or ferry the kids to school. By the same token I think it may be time to ask whether a 3.0 Ghz dual core accessing 2GB of RAM and a 120GB disk is really needed to read e-mail, access some web pages, or play an MP3 file.

Basically, I wonder how many of the people who don't approve of the 300HP engine in a Volvo S60/R routinely power up a 70 million line OS so they can vent their environmental concerns using the most convoluted, inefficient, and generally power hungry tools available anywhere?

The nonsense about what Jesus would drive is aimed at getting you to question that gas guzzling Hummer, but drive the typical x86 PC to your nearest email server and you'll waste more energy just on heat losses in the primary power transformer than it takes to run a dozen Sun Rays - and it'll take longer to load your e-mail.

More to the point, most Hummer owners drive them around town, not up mountain creek beds - just as most of the people buying either Intel's bandwidth crippled twinned CPU heat engines or AMD's software crippled dual socket quadFX will more commonly burn 600+ watts playing doom against themselves than crunching numbers in the search for a cancer cure.

I can empathasize with people who want a Hummer, but the only software that can drive the QuadFX effectively is Solaris and the typical hobbyist or gamer is going to be Wintel true believer, so what's the point? And if there isn't one, shouldn't the people who rail against SUVs and want the government to force their opinions on the rest of us, be at least equally upset about power gulping home x86 users?

Paul Murphy wrote and published The Unix Guide to Defenestration. Murphy is a 25-year veteran of the I.T. consulting industry, specializing in Unix and Unix-related management issues.