Archive for December, 2015

computersComputing power is basically just your computer’s ability to perform an operation quickly. Everything it does can be broken down into mathematical processes; your computer’s processor just interprets commands that you execute as a series of math problems. The faster the processor, the more calculations per second it can handle. Fast processors are also better at dealing with really difficult mathematical equations.

You’ve likely heard of a CPU or Central Processing Unit. Your computer and any other personal computer you’ve come into contact with likely has a CPU. Within the CPU is an electronic clock, which generates a series of electrical pulses at regular intervals. This allows the computer to synchronize all its components and it determines the speed at which the computer┬áretrieve data from its stored memory and undergo the calculations necessary for your commands to be performed.

This means that when you’re talking about processing power, what you’re really referring to is the clock speed, which in turn refers to the number of electrical pulses your CPU sends out each second. The more pulses it sends out, the more equations can be performed and the faster memory can be retrieved. When you see a processor that is rated at 3.2 gigahertz, you’re looking at a processor that sends out around 3.2 billion pulses each second. It’s even possible to overclock processors, or push them past their advertised speed, but each clock has its limit.

So how super can a computer be? The Tianhe-2 supercomputer developed by China’s National University of Defense Technology was the wold’s fastest computer in 2014 with a processing power of 33.86 petaflops (quadrillions of calculations per second) on the Linpack benchmark. As 2015 draws to a close, we’re likely to have a new contender.

You may be asking, what the heck is a petaflop? Flop signifies floating-point operations per second. Most desktop computers have processors that can handle billions of flops per second, i.e. gigaflops. Computers with multiple processors are faster than single-processor machines because each processor core can handle a certain number of calculations per second. Multi-core processors are able to increase computing power while using less electricity, giving them yet another advantage.

3d illustration of cpu chip over white background

3d illustration of cpu chip over white background

Even the fastest computers can take years to complete certain tasks, especially if they’re being put to the task of de-encrypting information. A lot of times these tasks involve finding prime factors of a very large number, which is difficult because the computer must first determine the factors of the large number and then determine if each individual number is prime. If a number is incredible large, this kind of task can keep a computer busy for a long time.

Encryption has decryption has become a major facet of computing technology, as anything from internet currency like the bitcoin to national secrets are stored and kept safe by creating situations in which only intense processing power can act as a key. However, with quantum computing on the horizon, even this newly developed world is bound to change soon and yield bigger and better things for the tech industry and all the industries that surround it.

 

defragIf you’ve heard of it but are not clear on exactly what it is, this is the article for you. “Disk defrag” is short for “disk defragmenter” which is a tool that helps to solve storage problems with hard disk drives.

A common issue with hard drives as they begin to fill up with information is new information cannot be stored sequentially. Instead, it needs to be stored wherever it can fit the open pockets throughout the drive. What ends up happening is that there’s a delayed loading the occurs whenever you try to upload any of the fragmented information because the arm of the hard drive has to take so many trips around the hard disk to get all the necessary information.

A disk defragmenter solves this issue by reorganizing all the files on your hard disk drive so that as many files can be stored sequentially as possible. A good defragmenter might even put all your applications near the operating system so that your apps load faster.

What does that even mean? Well keep in mind that storing information on your drive involves instructing read-write heads to travel all around the platters in your hard drive, magnetizing and demagnetizing microscopic pieces of metal depending on what binary code your personal files break down into. The read-write heads are also magnets and they are located on an arm that understands where to travel around the platters based on metadata that it stores regarding what’s where. The arm travels at a max speed across a very real physical space, so the more the metadata tells it to run all around the platters to find the necessary magnetic/binary information that makes up the picture of your grandma riding a horse that you’re trying to click on, the longer it’s going to take to process the entire picture. The defrag takes the information stored in our metadata, notes a better way of organizing all of it, and recopies everything onto the hard drive based on the optimum fit that will then allow for new things that you want to store to be written in a series, which is the fastest way for it to be read in the future.

defrag

You’re only going to notice the work of a disk defragmenter if you have a full hard drive; if you have one that’s never been filled up, its files are already stored sequentially. Defrag is more for the drives that have been constantly full and had info deleted off of them so the user can store new stuff there. In those cases, there’s generally a significant upload speed difference before and after the drive is defragmented.

Because so much data must be moved around in order to defrag a disk, you generally have to set aside a few hours for your computer to complete the process. You should also make sure that none of the applications on your hard disk drive are running during the process. You also need to disable any screen saver you have in use.