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Old 01-25-2021, 05:33 AM   #1
maximara
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Default Complexity for computers and the real world

Complexity for computers is abstract measure of processing power and is a logarithmic scale ie Complexity 2 is 10 times the processing power of Complexity 1.

For reference most 2004 home computers were Complexity 4 with many systems in the 2-3 range. CPUwise this was the "PowerPC G5" for the Mac and the Pentium 4 for the PC.

With all that how does Computer Complexity relate to the real world in ball park terms?

What is meant by "processing power"? Speed? Energy used vs performance? Moore's Law? Maximum amount of RAM you can get for/put into the computer?

What complexity would home computers of 2021 have? Ie a i9 vs an M1?

Does Computer Complexity related to TL? Ie does a Complexity 2 TL9 computer have more "processing power" then a Complexity 3 TL8 computer?
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Old 01-25-2021, 05:46 AM   #2
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Default Re: Complexity for computers and the real world

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Originally Posted by maximara View Post
With all that how does Computer Complexity relate to the real world in ball park terms?
It doesn't.

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What is meant by "processing power"? Speed? Energy used vs performance? Moore's Law? Maximum amount of RAM you can get for/put into the computer?
Flops is probably closest, but it's really just an abstraction to determine how many programs you can run.

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Does Computer Complexity related to TL? Ie does a Complexity 2 TL9 computer have more "processing power" then a Complexity 3 TL8 computer?
That is a hard no. Complexity is TL-independent.
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Old 01-25-2021, 05:50 AM   #3
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Default Re: Complexity for computers and the real world

Maybe you shoud take a look in High-Tech, Electricity and Electronics, pages 36 to 41.
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Old 01-25-2021, 06:58 AM   #4
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Default Re: Complexity for computers and the real world

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Maybe you shoud take a look in High-Tech, Electricity and Electronics, pages 36 to 41.
That actually is more confusing:

"Megacomputer (TL7): An early, very large computer, or a computer complex at a major research facility. Industrial power. $10,000,000, 20 tons. 1940. Complexity 7."

"Medium Computer (TL7): A smaller desktop (often built into a monitor or keyboard), or the internal components of a laptop. Household power or Rechargeable/8 hours. $1,000, 4 lbs. 1977. Complexity 3."

Yet my 2013 iMac is more powerful the either of these and but an entry level M1 Mac (which uses a variant of a Small Computer (TL8) CPU which is Complexity 2) cleans its clock and then asks for its lunch money. :-)

This is exactly why I asked because based on this, Complexity is TL based because there is no way a 2021 computer using a 7 nm CPU is less complex (ie has less computing power) then a 1940 monstrosity that used vacuum tubes.
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Old 01-25-2021, 07:29 AM   #5
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Default Re: Complexity for computers and the real world

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For reference most 2004 home computers were Complexity 4 with many systems in the 2-3 range.
No. The BEST 2004 desktop systems are Complexity 4. The TYPICAL system is Complexity 2 or 3.

I take this to mean approximately this: a consumer-level or office-level computer in 2004 is Complexity 2, a typical workstation-level computer is Complexity 3, and one of those systems that you see on someone's desk and say "But why?" is Complexity 4.

I could imagine each class of computer today being bumped up one Complexity level each.

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With all that how does Computer Complexity relate to the real world in ball park terms?

What is meant by "processing power"? Speed? Energy used vs performance? Moore's Law? Maximum amount of RAM you can get for/put into the computer?
It doesn't break down this way. Don't bother trying. Complexity cannot and does not try to simulate computer components. It's only about how many programs, also arbitrarily assigned a Complexity, can this computer run, and how expensive is it to make or buy such a program? That's all it does.

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Does Computer Complexity related to TL? Ie does a Complexity 2 TL9 computer have more "processing power" then a Complexity 3 TL8 computer?
It has more abstract processing power, but you can't break that down into components. The Complexity 3 computer can run 20 Complexity 2 programs simultaneously; the Complexity 2 computer can run 2 of them. For whatever reason, someone in TL9 decided to manufacture a computer that was less capable than another computer in TL8. Cost? Size? Aesthetics? Nostalgia? Whatever. Doesn't matter.
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Old 01-25-2021, 07:39 AM   #6
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Default Re: Complexity for computers and the real world

The problem with comparing Complexity to real life is that it does not map at all. The average desktop in 2021 possesses 1000x the processing speed and 1 million times the RAM of the average desktop in 1981, but they are both TL8 desktops, so they are both technically Complexity 3.
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Old 01-25-2021, 07:49 AM   #7
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Default Re: Complexity for computers and the real world

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It has more abstract processing power, but you can't break that down into components. The Complexity 3 computer can run 20 Complexity 2 programs simultaneously; the Complexity 2 computer can run 2 of them. For whatever reason, someone in TL9 decided to manufacture a computer that was less capable than another computer in TL8. Cost? Size? Aesthetics? Nostalgia? Whatever. Doesn't matter.
There was a reason I included "What complexity would home computers of 2021 have? Ie a i9 vs an M1?" in the series of questions.

The M1 is a variant of the CPU found in iPhones and iPads which logically are less complex than a desktop and yet it is cleaning the clock of even some i9 workstations which logically should have ''more'' processing power.

Heck, Unix which was designed for Minicomputers connected to dumb terminals is run on modern Macs. I worked with Minicomputer systems in the 1970s and I can tell you nearly any modern PC would curb stomp them. Yet despite this a Minicomputer should have ''more'' processing power. How does that work?
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Old 01-25-2021, 08:02 AM   #8
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Default Re: Complexity for computers and the real world

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The problem with comparing Complexity to real life is that it does not map at all. The average desktop in 2021 possesses 1000x the processing speed and 1 million times the RAM of the average desktop in 1981, but they are both TL8 desktops, so they are both technically Complexity 3.
But this makes no sense even by the Complexity guidelines as via emulators I can run far more programs of 1981 Complexity 3 on a modern Complexity 3 computer than I can with regards to modern Complexity 3 programs.

More over per High-Tech, Electricity and Electronics a 1981 Desktop is TL7 not TL8 which kinds of points to a connection between TL and Complexity.
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Old 01-25-2021, 08:29 AM   #9
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Default Re: Complexity for computers and the real world

Quote:
Originally Posted by maximara View Post
The M1 is a variant of the CPU found in iPhones and iPads which logically are less complex than a desktop and yet it is cleaning the clock of even some i9 workstations which logically should have ''more'' processing power.

Heck, Unix which was designed for Minicomputers connected to dumb terminals is run on modern Macs. I worked with Minicomputer systems in the 1970s and I can tell you nearly any modern PC would curb stomp them. Yet despite this a Minicomputer should have ''more'' processing power. How does that work?
GURPS COMPLEXITY DOES NOT COMPARE THE POWER OF INDIVIDUAL COMPONENTS. You simply cannot break down the real-world components of a computer to arrive at the parts that go into calculating Complexity. As far as GURPS is concerned, a computer is a black box in which Complexity happens and a result comes out. That's it.

GURPS is not simulating anything about how the real world works with Complexity ratings. It's just a game, not a formula for reflecting or predicting the real world. Use Complexity to describe the capabilities of equipment in GURPS; do not try to use equipment to derive Complexity.
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Old 01-25-2021, 08:42 AM   #10
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Default Re: Complexity for computers and the real world

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That actually is more confusing:

"Megacomputer (TL7): An early, very large computer, or a computer complex at a major research facility. Industrial power. $10,000,000, 20 tons. 1940. Complexity 7."

"Medium Computer (TL7): A smaller desktop (often built into a monitor or keyboard), or the internal components of a laptop. Household power or Rechargeable/8 hours. $1,000, 4 lbs. 1977. Complexity 3."
Look up Computer design options at the bottom. An Electromechanical computer (which is all that is available at early TL7) will have -5 to Complexity, giving it Complexity 2. Your medium computer (if also TL7) will be from later in TL 7, when LSI is available, giving it -2 to Complexity, or Complexity 1. Medium Computers don't start competing with Colossus until early TL8, so 1980 or so.
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