Technology has come a long way from the time of the early computers to the era of Nvidia. Compared to early computers, the technology that Nvidia and its competitors use, such as Advanced Micro Device, is light years more advanced. The age of analog computers has given way to the age of graphics processing units. However, it is interesting to see how technology has progressed.
In World War Two, analog computers were used for fire control on warships. The purpose of these machines was to predict the path of enemy aircraft and help with aiming of the ship’s weapons. They had to correct for both the movement of the ship and the ship’s target.
These early computers were made of surprisingly primitive material compared to the digital computers of today. The old fire-control systems were made of an array of shafts, gears, and dials such that it seems strange to call them computers in today’s sense of the word.
Operating the World War Two analog computers was not a relatively simple matter of punching in numbers. Rather, it was done by turning cranks and gears or loosening and tightening clamps. It was a very hands on process. Of course, all this had to be done while in the heat of battle. Compared to the modern technology used in a Nvidia or Radeon GPU, the old fire-control systems seem like something out of the Stone Age. Nevertheless, they managed to get the job done.
It would take a while before digital computers could become practical enough to use on a wide scale. Early digital computers were far less energy-efficient than their modern counterparts. The electronic numerical integrator and computer (or ENIAC) was an early electronic computer. Compared to the computers of today, ENIAC was massive. It consisted of thirty different units and a cooling unit – not exactly efficient for online gaming. ENIAC had 19 thousand vacuum tubes. It used about 200 kilowatts of energy. By comparison, a Dell XPS 12 Notebook uses between 12 and 71 watts, according to one study.
These old computers may have been very primitive, but they helped pave the way for the more advanced technology of today. It is rather remarkable how far and fast technology has progressed.
Fast forward to the current century and the situation has changed a great deal. Now computers are easily portable and very efficient. They are accessible and cheap enough that they can be used for things such as games and social media.
Nvidia has moved innovation forward with its graphics processing unit. Graphics processing units are used to make video Nvidia’s first GPU was the GeForce 256. Current GPU’s can process over 2 billion polygons per second. The days of manually turning cranks on primitive computers are long gone.
Nvidia has gone on to develop graphics processors for such things as the original Xbox as well as the Playstation 3. Gaming consoles are probably taken for granted these days, but technology like this could scarcely have been imagined in the days of ENIAC. Nvidia, along with AMD, is one of the two biggest suppliers of graphics processing units.
The world of computer technology has come a long way since the old analog computers. The technology used by companies such as Nvidia and AMD is incredibly advanced compared to early computers. Yet, most of this innovation has come in less than a century. What will the next century bring?
Editorial By Zach Kirkman