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December 11, 2005

the journey continues

ladies and gentlemen, it's upgrade time here at m2k2sda.

my roommate, rachel, has decided to take back her pc, which i have used for the past sixteen months or so to process all of the incoming material for the sites. i should probably give some background about how this situation arose.

when we were moving into the new apartment in august of 2004, it became clear to us that i was the one who needed the insane speed of her new pc, which she had just built with her parents' money. therefore, i traded with her, loaning her my old athlon 1.1 ghz for her athlon 64 3400+. i ended up upgrading the machine several times, giving it a second dvd writer and several 250 gig hard drives. i never really liked the thing, though, mostly because it wasn't mine, and because it had a few kooky hardware problems that i was never able to track down (it doesn't help when running the program inside a debugger stops it from crashing).

a few days ago, she announced that she had bought quake 4 and wanted her machine back to play it. i knew that my old pc is actually something like eight times slower than hers, meaning that it would take eight days to export a run that takes just over 24 hours to export now. it was time to kick my upgrade plans into high gear.

i had been saving since classes started this semester for a new "sda beast," but i had been planning on waiting until january or even later to actually buy it. i spent about an hour on the phone with my parents last night, and i was able to get them to push my graduation gift back from may to the present time, ensuring that i can buy the new machine now, and averting potential disaster as runs continue to come in at a rate that is certainly brisker than one per week.

but what should it be? dad was quick to point out that since 2004, prices on custom built brand-name units have continued to fall, but prices on individual parts (such as cpus) have not. we seem to have hit a wall where it's cheaper to buy a bare bones pc from hp or dell than to buy the exact same parts and assemble it yourself. he said that he thought it was because the "microsoft tax" the pc manufacturers pay has gone down so much, but to me the reason is irrelevant; i just wanted to know how i could get the most power for the least money.

and so i went to the hp site and customized a d4100e series pavilion, the highest powered one i saw with amd inside. (as anyone following the cpu wars knows, intel is not a good buy right now.) i selected the fastest cpu available, an amd 64 dual core 4200+. it came to about $1,100 after a buttload of rebates. i agreed to pay $400 of it, and my parents would shoulder the rest. but then i noticed something: there was no agp slot on this motherboard! my all-in-wonder capture card is agp ... so that meant either back to the drawing board or buying a new capture card.

luckily, it looks like i can get the all-in-wonder x800 xl (a pci express 16x card) for less than $150, and my parents also agreed to pay for it. because i'll be at my parents' around christmas, i decided to wait a few days to ensure that the new sda beast is not delivered during that time and has to wait in the cold for me to come home. thus, i'll have my first reports and captures from the new machine right at the end of the year. at this point i can only imagine what improvements the folks at ati have made to their all-in-wonders over the past two years.

incidentally, radix is probably the biggest winner in all of this: he gets my old 1.1 ghz athlon with motherboard and all-in-wonder. what's so special about that, you ask? well, if you weren't aware, he's currently using a 450 mhz computer ... a cd-rom drive that can't even read 700 mb discs ... and a capture device ... well, i wouldn't even call that thing a capture device. suffice to say that he's going to have a blast capturing his own awesome runs with my old hardware.

Posted by njahnke at December 11, 2005 1:02 PM


Well, that explains why Radix said to hold off submissions for a while.

Posted by: Forgotten One at December 13, 2005 4:29 PM

nah, he said that for a totally unrelated reason. i'm confident i'll be able to make up the slack soon after i get the new sda beast, hopefully about two weeks from tomorrow.

Posted by: nate Author Profile Page at December 13, 2005 4:43 PM

Is Radix really running on that? Wow, that's really harsh. Thankfully you're generous enough to give him something better. He'll pretty much be running on what I have; though it's dying at the time of this writing.

Posted by: Liku at December 16, 2005 12:23 AM

bah ha ha ha thats funny nice PC radix :D
fuck you could combined them together and from the beast...to a mega beast if those mother boards were compatible...
still glad to hear that SDA will live long again from this day
it's a really a big day to us all :D

Posted by: darksaberx at December 16, 2005 2:02 AM

upgrading is always a good thing. i bet Radix will notice a huge difference with the new computer. i remember when i asked him about his computer and i couldn't believe it was slower than mine :p

Posted by: PiccoloCube at December 16, 2005 3:06 AM

Actually I've still got an old 233 mhz as an emergency laptop if my current one goes to hell and it happens during school. Its got a battery in it, but it doesn't charge. not 1 second after 10 hours of charging.

Also until recently when my father decided to be stupid, I also had an IBM 5155, which for those of you who don't know models, it was the world's first portable computer, but it weighted 40 lbs and only ran DOS3.1, but it was the only way to play some of the old games because computers are just too fast these days and they didn't put code in to slow the CPU time in back then because they needed every byte for those 5 1/4" disks

Posted by: Brightstar at December 16, 2005 11:21 AM

Your dedication to SDA astounds me. :)

Posted by: Lag.Com at December 16, 2005 11:52 AM

Wow, dual core. That's gonna be great; twice as fast as the 3400+ for encoding... but only for multithreaded codecs. But worry not: if it only uses one CPU, just start encoding another thing at the same time, both will run at full speed :)

I don't know why they market it as a 512 KB cache part: it has two independent 512 KB caches, one for each core. So unlike Intel's shit, you can get a real 2x speedup on mostly everything, assuming you have enough work to do, which you do :)

The X800 XL is quite a monster too, about an order of magnitude better than what you had before... And if you are just encoding to DIVX, you can play games at the same time (if you don't do what I just said :D)

I'm happy you get this new computer; it's a shame people like you and radix are starved for good comps...

Posted by: Anonymous at December 18, 2005 5:55 AM

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