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Fri, Oct 21, 2016 19:45
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Hardware and software


One of the interesting facts about technology is that hardware is always ahead of the software behind it. It was true when the early computers had only 2,300 transistors; and it's true today when a Xenon chip has 4.2 billion transistors.  Software (programs) to use the newest hardware is always playing catch-up. 

Unless you are in a high tech corporate world, the cutting edge of software is in games.  Hard to believe, unless you are into games. And by games, I mean the first person shooter games and the like that are updated every year, at least for the successful ones.  These have action and graphics that strain even the most sophisticated computer system. 

The key to all of this is graphics.  Our current high definition (HD) computer monitors display a 1920 x 1080 pixel picture.  Smaller monitors can show these in 90 pixels per inch.  My larger 22 inch monitor shows only about 49 pixels per inch.  Regardless, the computer must tell each one of these little pixels a color and a brightness about 60 times a second.  That's a lot of work for the million or so pixels in the whole screen. For fast moving games, this work requires a special video card inside the computer to do the work.  The best of these cards cost $1,000 or more.  That's just a video card.

So just when it seems that software is getting an edge, along comes the latest, a so called 4K monitor, or one that has 3840 x 2160 pixels on the screen.  Even the best video cards would have trouble with this.  Usher in multiple video cards, in fact three in the latest "MaximumPC" magazine’s ultra PC build.

The leading edge of how many pixels can be put in one inch of screen isn't in computers at all but is in our cell phones.  Some of the latest phone screens boast over 450 pixels per inch.  This density in a 5" screen renders the pixels invisible to the naked eye, regardless how close you are to the screen. I would say that this level of technology would not be needed in TVs.  But then one time in the not-too-distant past, a very smart guy said that no one would need more than 25 Kilobytes of data.

Gene Canavan is a retired West Point Graduate and Paper Mill Utilities Manager and lives in Prattville, Alabama, USA.

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