Douwe Osinga's Blog: Computers: so fast and yet so slow

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Computers: so fast and yet so slow

My first computer was a BBC Micro (ok, it was my parent's). 2 Mhz, 32KByte. If I recall correctly, wordprocessing wasn't much slower than nowadays on MS Word. I'm pretty sure that WordWise started a lot faster. The 6502 that powered the BBC was per megaherz probably a factor 10 or so slower. That means a middle of the road pentium is about 10.000. times faster. But my computer isn't.

Of course not, you might reply. Word 2000 does a lot more stuff than WordWise ever dreamed about. Sure, but 10.000. times? That's the difference between a snail (11 meters/hour) and a car on a highway.

Starting applications is the worst. Programs like Photoshop or Delphi take forever to get ready. And what do they accomplish? The initial state, which when you think about it, comes down to maybe 20 megabyte of memory initialized in the same way anytime they start. That's got me thinking, why can't the app tell the OS after initializing, ok, I'm ready to be used, this is the my initial state. Please write the image of me to disk and next time you want to start me, just load the image. Ultra DMA100 should do 100Mbyte/sec, so word should start in 0.2 seconds.