How Fast is Fast Enough?

It seems that computers can never be fast enough. My work computer from my consulting firm is a 1.7GHz laptop equipped with 1GB RAM. OK, the model is almost three years old now, but it seems that it should be reasonably fast for most of the programming tasks; at least that was what I thought. But to my surprise, it gives feels like I was running Windows 95 on a 386

I remember the days when I was running DOS 3.1 on my 286 (10MHz), and it was reasonably fast for most of the tasks I did. It never took more than 30 seconds to boot up. You may argue that the OS nowadays are much cooler, and the programs we run are significantly more sophisticated, but given how much faster our modern CPUs have become it just does not seem right.

If you have ever used a major Java IDE (e.g. Intellij or NetBeans) you will know what I meant. On my 3GHz desktop (2 GB RAM) at home, it took nearly 40 seconds for the NetBeans 4.0 IDE to start up and the time it took to start up a Borland Pascal 7.0 under DOS on a 286 is only a couple of seconds.

Theres no doubt that software has become much less efficient, and its about time to rethink about efficient programming.

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