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Technology Lag

December 29, 1998
by Alex Zavatone

by Zav Altitude: 33,000 ft. Location: off the Ca coast.

Director 7's finally been released. I think that this is the first holiday season in 4 years where the Director team can actually go home for Christmas. Nice change of pace for the troops at the mothership. But let's step in to the "Wayback Machine", Sherman. Back in the fall of a year known as 1996 (if memory serves) there were a group of stalwart individuals who started out planning what Director 7 would be.

Fortunately, I got to participate in those meetings where we hashed out event structure and broadcasting, planned on putting the IML in Dir 7 (and prepared for the political battle to make it happen), went over feature after feature and preplanned what we thought 7 was going to be. That was about 2 years ago. Needless to say, the resulting Director 7 is different from what we planned way back then and is damn impressive in what the engineers were able to accomplish. Actually, if you trace the roots of the IML/PP (Idealized Machine Layer/Portable Player) that makes the underpinnings of Director, you can go back to more then 4 years ago to DPW or the Director Player for Windows. That bit of trivia may be great but what you care about is when the technology gets in your hands so you can create products to put in your customer's hands. That's what this "Technology Lag" is all about.

Aware of this concept, it is really funky to be working on a product with great features and knowing when it will be available for purchase. With Director and knowledge of the future feature set, I noticed that what we were planning would not be in the hands of developers for a few years. From there, the developers have to get contracts and create material for their clients. This time delay from inception to delivery to developers and then customers allows the keen observer to predict the features that consumers/clients/customers will have from 2 to 3 years before they will see it. In essence, you know your market up to 3 years ahead of time! You can know the inside track years before it happens.

This wonderful competitive advantage is also applicable to the hardware world as well. Barring my mac bias, the powerpc is MUCH 'better' than the Pentium line of chips. Hell, currently, a 300 mhz G3 laptop is faster than any pentium laptop and when you run time tests, my 266 G3 runs lingo functions at exactly 2 TIMES the speed of a Pentium II 233 with MMX. Lingo on a 266 G3 = Lingo a pentium II 466 MMX. According to the following links, the Motorola power pc chip is at a mature point of development and is technically superior to the Pentium II line which is near the end of its lifetime.

So what's to happen within the next few years ala processors? Well, Intel will use copper in their chips instead of aluminium, thereby providing some more life to the PII line, Motorola's Altivec will far surpass MMX technology and then be build on copper after the Altivec rollout. The Motorola G4 Processors are rumored to START at 400 MHZ and run under less power, have a larger backside cache and allow multiprocessing. In fact, Daystar is rumored to be working on just that. Imagine a 4 processor upgrade card for your g3 and an OS that can take advantage of that. All this should be available to the public within the next two years. If any of this is true, it sure looks like a very nice future indeed. Director 7's functionality should work just fine on machines with all this horsepower under the hood.

But here, there are two more items that will dictate the market in the next two years. That of fat bandwidth in the home and 3d capabilities of the most popular games being able to be accessed within Director. I'll leave the prediction of the emergence of those two up to you.

So waadda we have here? Simply, the ability to look forwards by up to 3 years realistically and predict the conditions of the hardware, software and connectivity capabilities that you will be faced with. Now go forth and make some money.

Links:
http://www.MacKiDo.com/Hardware/AltiVecVsKNI.html
http://www.daystar.com/pages/hardware/upgrades/g4/g4.html

A Director user since 1987, Alex (Zav) Zavatone has worked on the engineering teams for both Director and Shockwave, 4, 5, 6 and 7. Recent investigations find him developing foundation classes for Director with asynchronous process management and other life threatening activities. In its early days, he had something to do with this Internet thing known as "DOUG". A noted ne'erdowell, slacker and laggard, Mr. Zavatone is nonetheless is trusted by children, small animals and the elderly. In his spare time, Mr. Zavatone rehabilitates lame desert trout.

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