VOGONS


First post, by user33331

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Hello
1990 and 2000 companies used computers much longer.
Companies(if not very small ones) now replace them every 3 years.

I'm starting to dislike this more and more.
It surely is not a green way of thinking and effects global warming and such.

After every 3 years computers just disappear somewhere(maybe "recycled" in Asia\Africa) and a hoard of new ones come in.

Will we get longer replace periods in the future maybe 10-15 years ?
Hmm...Who invented the "every 3 year "-rule it is not rational.

Someone should really do something about this.
- Even as low as year mfg.2008 machines will run Windows 10 fine.
( I have a dell laptop from 2006 with Win10.)
- Most of my old computers are from industrial use dating: 1991-2006 and 100% working.

Bill Gates should make PCs greener. 😀

Reply 2 of 40, by derSammler

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There's nothing wrong with replacing PCs after three years, as long as they are not just trashed. I know many companies myself that donate old PCs to schools etc.

But companies must do that for various reasons. First, time is money. Yes, a 3-year old PC might still work, but it can hardly keep up with newer, more-demanding software (you can't just stay with old software when running a company) and internet sites becoming more and more complex. Second, administration work is easier and less time-consuming the more identical the PCs are. Third, it's an economical thing. After three years, the value of a PC has been written off and it's cheaper to buy new ones than maintaining the old ones.

And honestly, it's what most of us do with e.g. their mobile phones as well. Buying a new one every or every second year, even if the old one is still working. So don't blame companies for that.

http://retro-net.de/blog.html

Reply 3 of 40, by LHN91

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I work for a smaller business and almost exclusively buy 3-year or so old refurbished machines for the office staff (and myself). Generally maintenance costs are minimal and the performance is more than sufficient for the work we do. We let somebody else pay the initial depreciation of a 1200-1400$ machine, and still generally get 2-3 years of trouble-free service from the refurbished machines. The nicest thing is that if there is a failure it's not terribly expensive to replace the hardware, just swap in a spare unit and grab another refurb for 300-ish dollars CDN.

It does help that I perform the maintenance in-house and we're small enough to get by with about a dozen machines total, though.

Reply 4 of 40, by dionb

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derSammler wrote on 2020-02-18, 13:25:

There's nothing wrong with replacing PCs after three years, as long as they are not just trashed. I know many companies myself that donate old PCs to schools etc.

But companies must do that for various reasons. First, time is money. Yes, a 3-year old PC might still work, but it can hardly keep up with newer, more-demanding software (you can't just stay with old software when running a company) and internet sites becoming more and more complex. Second, administration work is easier and less time-consuming the more identical the PCs are. Third, it's an economical thing. After three years, the value of a PC has been written off and it's cheaper to buy new ones than maintaining the old ones.

And honestly, it's what most of us do with e.g. their mobile phones as well. Buying a new one every or every second year, even if the old one is still working. So don't blame companies for that.

The odd thing is that replacement cycles have been getting shorter as technical lifecycles have been getting longer. Back in the 1990's a 5-year cycle was common. That means you were working on a 386DX-40 when a Pentium 100 was current and on that Pentium 100 when a P3-800 was mainstream. That was painful, you really could not run up-to-date software from the P3 era on a P100. Now by contrast we have 3-year cycles when the difference is negligible. We're now on Coffee Lake, 3 years ago a new device would have had Kaby lake. Even assuming an older Skylake device, clock-for-clock the difference is less than 10% in office tasks. There is nothing you can run on Coffee Lake you couldn't also run on Skylake. A Skylake system would also have a fast SSD, comparable energy efficiency etc.
At home I have systems ranging from Clarkdale (10 years old) to Kaby Lake. All are equipped with SSD and I for one don't notice any difference at all in terms of desktop responsiveness or office productivity - in fact except in my son's Minecraft (he does insane stuff with Redstone that needs massive single-thread performance), all the systems are bottlenecked by GPU, not CPU, even my venerable Sandy Bridge i7 with GTX1070.

Fully agreed that admin (and tech support for that matter) is easier the more identical systems are. That sounds like an argument to keep using the same for longer more than anything else.

The argument that the systems are written off in three years is circular: we write them off in three years because we write them off in three years. Doing so in less time would cause trouble with the tax office, but there is nothing external that prevents you doing it in more time.

Reply 5 of 40, by derSammler

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dionb wrote on 2020-02-18, 14:56:

but there is nothing external that prevents you doing it in more time.

There is. If you choose e.g. 5 years instead, you have a high risk that new software released 3 or 4 years later will only run sluggish on it. And if you have to replace the PC then, you lose money. While I agree that performance is no longer increasing as it used to be a decade ago, it's still a risk no company will take. Three years seems to be a good tradeoff.

http://retro-net.de/blog.html

Reply 6 of 40, by Dochartaigh

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My companies timeline is much longer - maybe 5 years (but I think we're the outlier and people complained constantly of the computers being so slow).

Honestly, for personal use though (talking laptops here as that's what non-gamers use like 95% of the time I find), PC laptops after ~4 years are just garbage (and these are good brand mid-level, not $399 specials). Usually the computer case itself is the worse, ports malfunctioning, cracks, separation of the case and broken tabs, keyboard jacked up (even after routine blowing-out) etc. etc. etc. (and I'm even talking my parents multiple lightly used laptops...and they still have the same couches after 25 years in perfect shape for an example of how well they take care of things...).

Mac's on the other hand...I get like 8+ years out of those laptops no problem. Retired my 2008 Macbook Pro last year. All my friends get similar periods of time out of their Mac as well (usually juice them mid-way...which you can't even do with brand new ones which sucks, but I digress).

Reply 7 of 40, by imi

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new software runs sluggish by design, ever since the "ribbon-interface" was introduced and everything gets divided up into multiple cascaded windows, no new hardware is going to change that :p

working on old hardware with old software is going to be faster, heck we deliberately use old versions of some software because the workflow is so much faster compared to the up to date version.

we also run a lot of software that simply won't run on new machines anyways and we will have to for years to come.
we'll always have to keep legacy machines around as they are very demanding, and running in a VM is not an option atm.

my CAD workstation is a Phenom X6 1055T, that machine is 10 years old now and runs everything I need just fine, yes some programs are cumbersome and slow, but they're equally slow on our newest machine which is a i5 8600k with quadro card.
the only issue I had is that there are no windows 10 compatible drivers for my onboard GPU anymore.

a lot of software in the professional space is coded horribly and does not benefit from new hardware, a lot of them don't even support multi-threading yet.

Reply 8 of 40, by dionb

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derSammler wrote on 2020-02-18, 15:06:
dionb wrote on 2020-02-18, 14:56:

but there is nothing external that prevents you doing it in more time.

There is. If you choose e.g. 5 years instead, you have a high risk that new software released 3 or 4 years later will only run sluggish on it. And if you have to replace the PC then, you lose money. While I agree that performance is no longer increasing as it used to be a decade ago, it's still a risk no company will take. Three years seems a good tradeoff.

The last time a 5-year old system would not happily run current software was around 2010. For three 3-year cycles companies have been getting rid of perfectly serviceable systems. Great for the 2nd hand market (I like 3-year old corporate laptops!), but awful financial sense for the companies. There is a risk, but it is more than balanced by the certainty of overspending on hardware by 50%. The savings of moving to 5 years by default would more than compensate having to upgrade the handful of power users who actually need a really cutting-edge system sooner (and even with 3 year cycles, we get custom stuff anyway).

Also, look at the software side to estimate the risk. MS is getting marginally more aggressive at deprecating their old OSs, but Windows 7 was declared EOL a month ago, almost 11 years after introduction in 2009. Windows 10 has the strictest requirements yet - but it's 5 years old already and still going strong. De facto Windows 10 requires UEFI + secure boot in a corporate environment, which only became common in early 2012. That's still 8 years ago. There really isn't any software requirement that would not be perfectly met by a 5-year old system, with 3 years' margin on top of that.

Reply 9 of 40, by imi

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I mean it really depends on the field, if you're working a lot with visual effects, 3D modeling and rendering for example, an uprade cycle closer to a single year might actually make sense even.

all the machines in our office were actually built by myself, we don't use prebuilts, so upgrading is as simple as switching a few parts, often companies throw out a perfectly fine computer when the only thing they needed was a new cpu/ram or gpu... of course this is easy with a small company... when you have to manage hundreds of machines there's not really a way around that.

Reply 10 of 40, by derSammler

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You also need to consider warranty. Most manufacturers only give three years - unless you pay extra. No company wants broken PCs that can not be fixed since they are out of warranty with no spare parts available. And, of course, the longer you use a PC, the higher the risk of a failure is. From an economical point of view, there's really no arguing against that practise. Again, there's also nothing wrong with it as long as the "old" PCs are not trashed.

Also, think about this: if new PCs are used for three years, they are still good enough after that time to donate them. If they would be used for five years, they are most likely no longer. So while it seems responsible to use them longer, it probably isn't.

http://retro-net.de/blog.html

Reply 11 of 40, by cyclone3d

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We used to do every 3 years. Now it is every 5.

I give away and /or donate the old systems to whoever will take them. Nothing goes to recycling at all since the last decent recycler close to us closed down a few years ago. And even then, the only stuff I sent to the recycler was stuff that was broken and not worth fixing.

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Reply 12 of 40, by douglar

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Many companies lease hardware, not so much for the hardware obsolescence, but for the accounting & governance. A lease is a series of one time expenses (like a utility) that arrive in manageable amounts and are easily directed to a business units annual budget. Purchasing computers is a capital outlay (like a new building), requires upfront funding, which in turn requires more governance & fraud oversight, both during the purchase and the ownership. It is also more complicated from an accounting standpoint, ( depreciation, write-offs, audits, etc) and complicated finances can be a liability. It's easier if someone else owns & tracks the computers. Once the lease is up, the computer gets taken back to the vendor and replaced with a current model.

Scheduled replacement also makes it harder for end users to sneak in undocumented shadow infrastructure. For example, you don't get situations where that the burned out desktop in the corner with no monitor had been feeding bar code fonts to the mail room printer for the last 10 years, or that there was a piece of ancient CAD software with a special add in from a defunct company that was vital to engineering and the XP laptop it was running on just died. Making everyone hand in the stuff & reinstall every three years keeps many of the worst case shadow infrastructure situations from happening. The software doesn't stick around long once the installation process is forgotten.

And while scheduled replacement definitely increases scheduled outages, scheduled PC replacement almost certainly reduces unscheduled hardware & software outages. It's kind of like how changing all the light bulbs on a rotating schedule, burnt or not, can save overall maintenance costs compared to the costs of assigning one off tickets to change them haphazardly when there are outages, even if it wastes a few light bulbs. Likewise, if you can pick the week your laptop breaks I mean gets replaced, it should be less traumatic than having it burn out right before the next deploy. And because you swapped computers not that long ago, the process should be better understood.

Last edited by douglar on 2020-02-18, 18:59. Edited 1 time in total.

Reply 13 of 40, by Oetker

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We compile a large code base and there the 3 year cycle makes some sense, as growing core counts and faster ssds, things you don't really notice for normal/gaming usage, do make a difference. On the flip side, the brand name work stations we need to buy to get that kind of stuff are incredibly overpriced and come with shitty, overpriced Quadro cards. When the company used Dell we at least could cheat the system by getting Alienware desktops - the customizable LED lighting was a nice bonus.

Anyway yes I feel it's wasteful and nonsensical in general but companies want the warranty, and it does mean that I can buy cheap professional (= better built) laptops for home and that at work we have a supply of slightly old machines to us as test systems (unfortunately IT got stricter about getting hold of surplus machines).

Reply 14 of 40, by SirNickity

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douglar wrote on 2020-02-18, 18:42:

Many companies lease hardware, not so much for the hardware obsolescence, but for the accounting & governance. [..] It's easier if someone else owns & tracks the computers. Once the lease is up, the computer gets taken back to the vendor and replaced with a current model. [..] Scheduled replacement also makes it harder for end users to sneak in undocumented shadow infrastructure. [..] Scheduled PC replacement almost certainly reduces unscheduled hardware & software outages.

^ Winning post.

This is exactly it. Exactly. Op-Ex beats Cap-Ex. Replace on a schedule to keep the process ingrained, hardware fresh, and obsolete systems are NOT PERMITTED to stick around.

I just helped a customer remove half a rack of like three year old servers that got cut over to a new blade server chassis. They could easily have been re-purposed as additional VMware pool resources for easier maintenance windows, usage surges, development... but when we asked if they wanted to do anything like that, the answer was a quick and firm: "NNNOoooooooo. I don't even want that to make its way back to the office. If it even shows up on a cart somewhere, it'll get squirreled away into the engineer's den and tomorrow it's mission critical. I hope it gets stolen out of the back of the truck during lunch."

Reply 15 of 40, by Deczor

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imi wrote on 2020-02-18, 15:30:

I mean it really depends on the field, if you're working a lot with visual effects, 3D modeling and rendering for example, an uprade cycle closer to a single year might actually make sense even.

Well, not even then. My flatmates are professional 3D animators and graphics dudes working with high res footage and demanding rendering stuff. One is quite happy with his old i7 3828 and 32Gigs of ram. The other only just bought a new PC after using the same macbook for 5 years.

I know that at Weta most of the heavy lifting is done clustered servers running some custom linux thing rather than the desktops themselves.

Reply 16 of 40, by imi

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yeah in practice it's probably not that common, I just meant that would be a field where they'd actually have a good reason to upgrade.

also in general I certainly don't like the idea of outsourcing control over your infrastructure, our small office is moving into a bigger building soon joining the parent company, and with that we won't have our own server infrastructure anymore and I am definitely not looking forward to that, instead of taking care of things myself I will have to probably spend and equal if not more amount of work dealing with a seperate IT department then.
Also if everything goes their way we will probably throw out all the custom built machines and get generic workstations... because "warranty". It'll be several times the cost, and fixing anything will be cumbersome because it'll have to go through IT insteat of just getting new RAM or a new GPU and throwing it in.

Reply 17 of 40, by dionb

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Opex beats capex? Then why is my manager always telling me to try to capex every single thing I do? We're always under pressure to reduce opex in any way possible. Always leads to huge discussions around maintenance contracts on test equipment as we try to buy it off for years, in perpetuity if possible, just so we can book the lot under capex instead of having to accept more opex...

Reply 18 of 40, by pentiumspeed

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Be thankful for this, I purchased large number of ex-business computers and salvaged many notebooks that was from business as well for personal and for work. Made life much easier especially when you are trying to get decent computers for your small business with few employees.

Also this is best way to get as well since you can activate windows without needing for purchase of COA key sticker, and made parts more accessible when repair is needed. I can't say for same for some consumer grade notebook models for example Asus computers, very hard to get for example and fail easily. I no longer buy consumer notebooks unless some lands in my lap for nothing then if not repairable, goes it back to recycling.

Cheers,

Reply 19 of 40, by BinaryDemon

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I wish my company upgraded every 3 years! 😀

Check out DOSBox Distro:

https://sites.google.com/site/dosboxdistro/ [*]

a lightweight Linux distro (tinycore) which boots off a usb flash drive and goes straight to DOSBox.

Make your dos retrogaming experience portable!